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Why we all need a court reporter?

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I see scattered in various parts of threads discussion relevant to court reporters, using tape recorders, etc. So I thought a specific thread dedicated to the court reporting, or tape recording the proceedings would be a good edge-ja-ma-ka-tional discussion.


Basically we all need a court reporter at all hearings, presuming you can afford one, and the transcription fees...ouch!


I know some will argue you don't need a reporter  for certain hearings such as Summary Disposition [sD] or Summary Judgment [sJ]. But the choice is ultimately yours. A lot of pro se litigants and even attorneys for whatever reasons, don't bring a reporter to their hearings. The obvious problem here is if you get an adverse ruling and want to appeal. You have pretty much already shot yourself in one foot, so to speak.


You file your notice of appeal, research, draft, pay the steep filing fees and file your brief.The other side either responds, or doesn't. If you haven't filed a transcript, your half dead in the water. You wait months for the decision, and you get the decision in the mail, you say your Hail Mary's and nervously open it up and BAM!...appeal dismissed! The decision states that w/o a record of the hearing, this court cannot determine what the testimony was, or how/why the court made its ruling, etc.


So that is really discouraging after all the work and money you put into it. So that's what this thread is about.


Most appellate courts won't even consider an appeal if it lacks a transcript of the proceedings being appealed. But will look for error on the face of the record that is apparent. So what are the alternatives?


Most states offer some sort of alternative procedure for a appealing party to submit a statement of the proceedings or something similar in lieu of a transcript if not available for whatever reason.


Taperecorders can be used with permission of course, but obviously your state rules need to be checked for proper procedure. Some states require pre-approval via motion before the hearing and notice to the other side. Some allow a verbal request to the judge at the hearing. I haven't been denied permission yet.


So  either bring a court reporter or if you can't afford one, then the tape recording with permission is the only option. At least with the recording you have a verbatim record of what was said at the hearing. This will allow you to use/make a alternative statement in lieu of the court reporter transcipt. That once approved by the lower trial court, can be submitted along with the rest of the record and briefs for appellate court review.


Bottom line is, everyone needs to have some kind of a record for appellate review.


So if anyone wants to share their experiences with this issue, have at it.

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I always take my laptop. I use a Nikon camera that is usb ready. I also take my wife she is a para and a court reporter....


I invested in the Zoom R16 SD multitrack recorder,,around 400 bucks,

I'm  Nikon girl and my slr camera has grea video and sound. Although I don't know if either are allowed in California court. But this is very interesting to me do to the nature of my case and that my judge has been a little lame so far. But now I have a lawyer on it. I'm going to see what he thinks about all this. I indeed want to record everything from here on out. Sucks I didn't know this earlier.

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In Utah the District Courts all have had a recording system to digitally record the proceedings for a few years. By 1 Jan 2013 all Justice courts will have this same system in place as well. The nice thing about it is that the recording becomes part of the docket history and can be accessed online with an XChange account or at the court house.

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Nice. In Delaware you can't even bring a phone into the courthouse. I'll probably end up having to pay for a court reporter.

It may be worth every penny. I think even if people do bring in recorders they still have to pay a stenographer to make a manuscript for the court. Maybe when you win you can try to recover these fees from the other side?

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If you type in "Statement of the Proceedings", or "The Record on Appeal", or something similar on Google for your state, might help find your states rule that provides info on your options for methods of making a record for the appellate court.


California for example has Rule 8.836 for [limited cases], and Rule 8.134 for [unlimited cases]. Both on Cal. Courts, Judicial Branch online, 14 pages on pdf. Adobe Reader. A short read says that either a court reporter, an agreed or stipulated statement of the proceedings between the parties, and some of those courts have electronic recording of the proceedings available to litigants. If you want/need a recording for appeal, or to support your arguments at a future hearing, you can get one from the court and use it to have a court reporter transcribe it for you.


Best to check way in advance of your hearing, to make sure they record your type of proceeding., ie; family, juvenile, divorce, probate, small claims, general civil, etc. Some states provide a recording for only the first four types, but general civil, they don't. Each state is different. So best to check way in advance what type of cases they do or don't record.


As a backup, a motion can be filed in advance of a hearing requesting permission to record the proceedings on your personal recorder. To have that available option in case something goes wrong with the courts equipment, the bailiff/court room clerk/court technician forgot to turn it on, ran out of tape, or "its out of service", at the last minute before the hearing. Then your SOL for lack of a record on appeal, if needed.


There doesn't appear to be any reason that I know of, why you couldn't use either your own recording, or the court's recording, to draft and submit your Statement of the Proceedings to opposing side. Similar to a transcript. Opposing side or thetrial judge can't argue/object to its own voice/speaking or the verbatim statement of the recording. So the recording keeps everyone on the record a little more cautious of what they say.


Some judges, if they see that you don't have a court reporter present, will rule anyway they want, right or wrong. Same with atty.'s, if the see no reporter present, they will do and say whatever is neccessary to get an order signed.


Of course there are the yellow pages for court reporters. And there's the clickable link above for digital court reporting. Which would provide valuable insight in this type of reporting. I believe the digital reporting can provide a instant transcript right there at the end of the hearing. And I believe it is cheaper than a regular transcript page. A court reporter page last time I checked was like $5.50-$6.00 for a double a spaced page. Whereas a digital page is like a buck a page cheaper, or maybe less. Check that link above for the price per page.


If you can afford a court reporter and transcript, then you don't have to worry about the alternatives above. But if you plan on appealing, you have to have a record for the appellate court. Type "Record on Appeal" for your state in a search engine and see what the appellate court's findings are on appeals brought w/o a proper record on appeal, or a lack of a record on appeal. Most of these cases get affirmed.


Lastly, you don't need a transcript of every hearing, just the one pertinent to your issues on appeal.


Hope this helps.

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