Court Reporter Shortage Forcing Creativity, Increasing Risk of Issues

Court Reporter Shortage Forcing Creativity, Increasing Risk of Issues

Legal practitioners across the country can agree that there is a court reporter shortage in the industry. This was an issue before the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic; the industry had a shortfall of reporters available compared to the demand for services in courtrooms and depositions. As a result, courts and attorneys have had to use creative methods to document and record proceedings and depositions for litigation matters. A majority of the feedback regarding digital and voice reporting as well as remote court reporting has been positive. That being said, many lawyers and courtrooms have experienced serious errors in reporting and recording of proceedings raising issues of both reliability and admissibility.

Nationwide Issue

Becoming a court reporter is no small feat. According to a study conducted by the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA), the decline in court reporters began in at least 2014 and is mostly due to two factors — experienced court reporters retiring from the industry and not enough new court reporters entering the industry. According to the NCRA report, on average, only 200 new court reporters enter the industry each year for every 1,120 who are retiring. The report predicted that the total number of qualified stenographers in the country will reduce by at least 50% by 2028 when compared to the number in 2014.

Court reporting requires training and education, including licensing. A decline in the enrollment of students at court-reporting schools makes it difficult to produce new graduates ready to enter the industry. Research shows that less than 10% of those who start certified stenographer court reporting schools graduate from the program.

Remote Court Reporters

Remote court reporting has significantly helped fill the holes where coverage was needed and no in-person stenographer was available. Performing court reporting services remotely helps stenographers provide much-needed services without traveling long distances, and the reporter can be in the same room as the parties. Some states’ laws, however, made remote court reporting difficult. California, for example, passed legislation in 2019 preventing courts from utilizing remote court reporters to memorialize court records and prohibited the use of state money to buy remote court reporting equipment.

Once the COVID-19 pandemic ensued, courts and attorneys alike were forced to pivot and allow remote court reporting to move litigation cases (particularly criminal ones) along. There are advantages to remote court reporting, namely–an increase in the pool of available reporters for proceedings and lowered overall costs because of travel and accommodation savings. Advocates state that these benefits outweigh the negative issues that arise with remote court reporting services, including its failure to provide full and open access to the general public and the difficulties found in reading body language via video.

Court Reporting Services

The skilled team at Elizabeth Gallo Court Reporting can help provide you with the litigation support you need–whether in person or remotely. Our reporters pride themselves in providing accurate and timely reporting to courts and attorneys alike. Contact us today. If you need international litigation support, contact Ancillary Legal today. Our team has significant experience and can support all your domestic and international litigation needs.



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