The federal government allows its court reporters to charge for copies of federal court transcripts, and many court reporters supplement their incomes by doing so. One very high-profile federal case underway at the moment is that of one of the brothers accused of bombing the Boston Marathon last year. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is currently on trial for his role in this horrific crime.
Court reporter Marcia Patrisso is responsible for documenting the proceedings of the Tsarnaev trial. She told Boston.com that a rough estimate of the cost to obtain the full transcript of the proceedings would be $92,565.
She estimates that the trial will take around 68 days and last for 5.5 hours a day. A trial of this pace should generate about 225 pages of transcript a day that will result in a transcript about 15,300 pages long. The cost of transcripts for the first three days alone would run around $1,600.
The federal government sets the rate for transcripts, and rush transcripts are much more expensive. First-time buyers pay $6.05 a page while subsequent purchasers are charged $1.20 for each page.
The cost of obtaining this transcript is prohibitively expensive for many media outlets, and they have managed to work around it. For example, they can obtain testimony if it has been attached as a case motion.
The National Court Reporters Association encourages court reporters to offer daily copy transcripts. They argue that trial lawyers could take advantage of this opportunity and save a significant amount of money compared to having to attend a full lengthy trial. The lawyers can also ensure the accuracy of the proceedings as the trial progresses.
Members of the public who cannot afford the rates for this transcript may be able to watch the Tsarnaev trial from a spectator seat if they get to the Moakley Courthouse early enough in the morning.