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A court reporter is first and foremost a reporter — someone who tells what happened in a certain place at a certain time.
A court reporter is an official witness to a legal proceeding of any type who can accurately relate what was said by all of the people present. The reporter is unbiased in the sense that he has no compelling personal interest in the matter he is witnessing. All or nearly all of the other people present at a legal proceeding are parties to the case and so have a prejudicial interest in the issues and outcome. The reporter is the neutral observer whose record of the event becomes the official record before the law of what was spoken at a deposition, hearing, trial or any other proceeding.
To facilitate this position as official witness, reporters in many states are also Notaries Public.
At a deposition, which is done outside of a courtroom, the reporter also swears in the witness, putting him under penalty of perjury for false testimony.
Since the events being reported are primarily the spoken word, a court reporter must be skilled at live transcription. A reporter’s skills go beyond transcription, however. In many areas of the United States, court reporters are certified by a state board.
The end product of the reporter’s activity is a transcript of what was said. To this the reporter attaches a signed certificate which states that the transcript is a true and accurate record of the proceedings.