Court reporters are sometimes overlooked in the overall scheme of the average court proceeding, but they are by far one of the most important elements of those proceedings. As the “silent guardian of the record,” they play a critical role in every court case that is presented before a judge. While the job itself may be somewhat understated, court reporters are tasked with the monumental responsibility of generating a word-for-word record of court proceedings.
But some may wonder why it is necessary to even have court reporters; why is a verbatim record of what is said in a courtroom such a necessity?
The answer to that question, in part, can be found in how the court system is structured. It is essentially comprised of two individual levels – appellate courts and trial courts. In appellate courts, cases that come from trials are brought under review in order to ensure that there were no errors. The transcripts that are generated by court reporters are used to carry out those reviews because they identify each person who spoke during the proceedings in a trial, and provide a verbatim record of exactly what each participant said.
The transcripts that are generated by court reporters are reviewed by attorneys and judges outside of court proceedings and sometimes long after a verdict has been handed down. There have even been times when an individual who has been found guilty of a crime and sentenced to prison has been able to recall the transcripts of court proceedings and prove their innocence years later.
Without court reporters, it would be impossible to control and preserve a record of court proceedings in any trial.
It may not be the most glamourous occupation in the world, but it is critical to the judicial system. This is what earns court reporters the reputation of being the “silent guardians of the record.”