Court Reporters – What To Do When You Make a Mistake

Recently several stories relating to court reporters making various mistakes have been in the news. In one case a man, working in the Manhattan courts, typed “gibberish” instead of accurately recording court proceedings. That situation resulted in up to 40 closed cases being put in jeopardy.

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In another case a court reporter’s computer suffered a virus that wiped out the record of a trial that resulted in a murder case conviction. Her backup memory was accidentally overwritten, and all traces of the court record were lost. In that case, a new trial was ordered for the defendant after the judge could not locate the report in order to weigh an appeal.

As can be seen in these examples, court reporters have extremely important jobs and play a vital role in the legal systems they serve. But, court reporters are human. In the case that a court reporter makes a mistake, many wonder what they should do.

The first step to resolving a critical mistake relating to the court report is to immediately talk with your superiors and notify them of the issue. Often times such mistakes can more easily be corrected quickly, and waiting often only makes things worse.

In the case of a catastrophic loss of the court report, such as those mentioned above, it may be practically impossible to retrieve them. But, this does not mean that all is necessarily lost. Depending on the jurisdiction, the courts may be able to recall witnesses and experts in order to create a proxy report, which will serve in the place of the original.

This was the solution that the Manhattan courts decided upon after its reporter wrote the unintelligible reports. In any case, reporting the mistake as soon as possible is likely essential to solving the problem effectively.

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