Court Reporting in 2020

The legal world continues to experience change and increased litigation of all types. Here in New York City, one of the most litigious cities in the country, the demand for records and transcripts is constant.

As we settle into a new year and new decade, we’re also looking back. Here at MGR Reporting, 2019 was a year of growth, new challenges, and an expanding client base. The legal world continues to experience change and increased litigation of all types. Here in New York City, one of the most litigious cities in the country, the demand for records and transcripts is constant. My staff and I are grateful for the consistent stream of opportunities.

In the past year, we continued to serve our niche by recording numerous public meetings and municipal hearings, such as creating the record for the Bronx Psychiatric Center Land Use Improvement Project.

In addition to our primary work, we’ve also seen an increase in pro se depositions. Last year, we provided deposition records for a number of individuals proceeding without legal counsel. This growing segment of self-represented litigants is conducting discovery, holding depositions, and appearing in court without an attorney; in most cases, successfully. We are happy to provide our services and have found these clients to be well-prepared, focused, and highly competent.

Keepers of the Record – Then and Now

The National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) held their 2019 Speed Contest in August of 2019, during the Convention & Expo in Denver, Colorado. You can read about the winners here. NCRA began holding the speed contest in 1909, when the stenographers used Pittman or Gregg shorthand to take dictation at 200+ words per minute.

By 1952, all of the contestants used machines and that year’s winner set the record at 220 words per minute with one error. Currently, certification requires a minimum of 225 words per minute with a 95% accuracy. Higher certifications require up to 260 words per minute.

Court stenography is a demanding profession requiring speed, accuracy, intense focus, integrity, and a mastery of the language. It is also a highly rewarding and potentially lucrative career path.

Next month, we celebrate Court Reporting and Captioning Week. My hat’s off to all of the court reporters and legal videographers nationwide who continue to keep the record. With integrity and commitment, they are combining high-performance skills with cutting-edge technology.

Newsworthy Depos

As court reporters, you could say we’ve heard it all – from deposition to witness stand. But every case is different and people will say the most unexpected things on the record. Here are a few high-profile depositions that made the news in 2019:

You’re probably familiar with the June 2019 depo involving Tesla CEO Elon Musk. He was questioned about Tesla’s acquisition of SolarCity and became frustrated with the tactics of attorney Randall Baron. Eventually, Musk responded, “You seem like a very, very bad person. Just a bad human being and I hope you come to regret your actions in the future, but you probably won’t. And that’s sad.” He also called him “a shameful person.” The transcript of the deposition was obtained by PlainSite and you can read it here.

In medical tech news, Nightline aired the previously unreleased transcripts of the deposition of Elizabeth Holmes, former CEO of Theranos. Ms. Holmes committed mind-boggling fraud against investors, doctors, and patients; although she never admitted any wrongdoing. According to the transcript, she responded with “I don’t know” 600 times during the deposition. Watch the broadcast here.

Of course, the most newsworthy depositions of the year have been the Trump impeachment hearings. You can read the transcripts and draw your own conclusions (if you haven’t already) here.

What’s Ahead in 2020?

From remote depositions to digital recorders, we expect technology to become an even greater resource for court reporters in the coming years. Fortunately for us, digital recording won’t be replacing qualified stenographers in the foreseeable future. Any experienced attorney or judge would agree that, when it comes to accurately interpreting the intricacies and nuances of language and communication, human court reporters are irreplaceable.

It’s true that many courts are already incorporating digital recording. For some, it’s been in response to budget cuts. For others, they’re responding to the shortage of qualified professionals. Ironically, at the same time, we’re seeing an increase in litigation. Legal professionals still depend on live court reporters for depositions and transcripts. Technology can provide great tools, but they’re limited and subject to machine failure.

In addition to the legal world, other fields—from medicine to business to politics—continue seeking real-time stenographic court reporters for technical testimony, arbitrations, public hearings, board meetings, seminars, and sports events. This will probably grow even more.

Personally, I’ve been a stenographic court reporter for 25 years and I still love what I do every day. I’m looking forward to whatever 2020 brings!

All of us at MGR Reporting wish you a happy and prosperous year.