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As a rough rule of thumb, it could be said that the work a court reporter does in public, at the deposition or hearing, is about one-half to one-third of the total time needed to prepare a transcript.
There are five phases to getting a transcript produced. They are:
- Translation or Note Reading
- Proofreading & Correction
- Printing & Binding
The first requirement is that a reporter be present at the event to be covered and take down what is said. The most common method these days is through the use of a stenographic writer. The reporter will be present for the entire proceeding. In some states, the reporter swears in the witness. The reporter will also be responsible for any exhibits which have been presented and must mark and catalog these before leaving.
The reporter’s notes have been made, but they are useless to almost anyone except the reporter in their current form. The next step is to get these notes into at least rough English. If the reporter is using a manual shorthand machine, then the paper tape produced by the machine must be read and retyped. More typically, a diskette will be taken from the shorthand machine and read into a personal computer running a CAT program. The CAT program will translate the notes, using a dictionary that matches that reporter’s writing style to English. Such translations are around 90% accurate. So what we have at this point is a rough translation of the text, with some raw steno markings in it and none of the cover pages, index and so forth expected on a finished transcript.
The process of editing this rough translation into a finished transcript is called “scoping“. The CAT programs used for this offer many tools specialized to doing this speedily, but it still remains that the entire text of what was spoken must be read, understood and any questionable areas clarified.
Once the transcript is “finished”, it is read through once again by the reporter and any errors noted for correction. The corrections are then made.
And finally, the entire work is printed and bound.
You can see that someone has to “live through” the deposition or day in court three times over — once at the actual event, once when scoping the job and once again when proofing the transcript.