Notes From the Field

Notes From the Field

by / March 31, 1997
To the Editor:
I want to congratulate you and the rest of your staff for a well-done publication. I also wanted to say that your views on the justice system were insightful and well put. Perhaps in the future, we as a society will be able to devote our energy to the bettering of ourselves and the world, and not making such a spectacle of the justice system or its original ideals.

John Patterson

To the Editor:
I have been receiving Government Technology for a few months and feel the necessity to write to you at this time. I find your publication to be very interesting and useful to me as mayor of a small city. The articles touch on a wide variety of issues that challenge us today, as we attempt to keep up with changes in technology, legislation and the market.

We are struggling with the reality that small cities no longer enjoy a monopoly of providing services to our citizens. We must update our processes, revise our philosophy to that of providing service and become the low-cost provider of services to our citizens in order to stay in business.

The articles in your publication encourage us to open our perspective, broaden our horizons and become better prepared to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow. You are successful in your endeavor.

Thank you for an excellent publication. I wish you the best for your continued success in the future.

Leonard E. Sanderson, Mayor
City of Milton, Wash.

To the Editor:
In the January "Justice & Technology" column, How to Improve Court Efficiency, author Richard Power makes a number of sweeping statements about how our courts should be using advanced computer technology. As long-time proponents for the greater use of technology in the courts, we are glad to see legal professionals espouse the benefits and cost-effectiveness of computerizing the judicial system. However, some points the column raised concerning current procedures involving transcripts need further explanation.

The author notes that education and standards are necessary elements in bringing technology to the courts, both of which court reporters have done through educational programs such as the Advanced Court Technology symposium, as well as stringent certification such as the Registered Professional Reporter program. In addition, court reporters are bringing computerization to our courts at their own expense. Ninety percent of court reporters in the U.S. use computer-aided transcription programs they have purchased themselves. These court reporters are able to provide daily rough copies to attorneys on diskettes, by modem or in the traditional paper-based format.

With an additional component and some training, many court reporters also provide realtime technology to our nation's courts. Realtime can be expanded to include systems that convert spoken testimony into printed text or captioned video for hard-of-hearing persons, and into Braille or enhanced sound for persons who are blind or have vision loss. This helps the courts meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. In fact, the advanced computerized systems that we saw in the O.J. criminal trial, Rodney King trials and Exxon Valdez trials were all provided by the court reporters in the same case. They were not purchased with taxpayers' money.

Many court reporters already provide the technology touched on in Mr. Power's column -- transcripts produced by court reporters can be researched, corrected, telecommunicated, stored on CD-ROM or other computer media, integrated with exhibits or a videotape, or simply printed out in a conventional or condensed format.

Through constantly upgrading continuing education programs, the National Court Reporters Association is helping to keep court reporters at the forefront of technology. As a result, court reporters are training judges, attorneys and court administrators on how to utilize technology, making the justice system more efficient and leading the courts into the 21st century.

Rosalie Stevens
RPR, CPE, President
National Court Reporters Association

[ April Table of Contents]