We support the goal of improvement within the legal system to protect the rights of those in the system. Court reporters are the last line of defense for the public against process abuse. Our absolute devotion to impartiality and accuracy is designed to ensure a reliable record for readers one day or 100 years later.
This study did not use live testimony, which court reporters use when they do their job. Audio recordings were played and they were asked to transcribe them and then asked to paraphrase the statements. In our job, court reporters do not interpret; we do not paraphrase. The very nature of our work demands that we not place our subjective judgment of what an utterance should be, or what may have been intended, over what is actually said.
In testimony that is difficult for a given listener to understand, there are options available to the court reporter and participants: (1) interrupting to gain clarity; (2) engagement of a qualified interpreter to ensure that meaning is conveyed accurately; and (3) consulting the court reporter’s real-time display of the transcript to resolve potential misunderstandings. (Only court reporters can provide such real-time displays.) We note that none of these vital options appeared to be available in the foundational study.
Protection of the measured and faithful administration of justice is the basis for court reporters’ very presence in the judicial process. Our system of jurisprudence demands that justice be blind, but justice cannot be deaf. We offer our support and expertise for opportunities that help ensure that words spoken on the record are accurately preserved.
National Court Reporters Association President
NCRA Member and Pennsylvania Court Reporters Association President
This is something white people, especially those living in diverse areas, should make it a point to understand!
In every country, speaking nonstandard varieties of the country’s official language entails disadvantages. I am not very familiar with the situation in the U.S., but I have encountered this sort of issue in several European countries. The author, in typical American fashion, seeks to frame this matter as a question of racism. But this is a parochial standpoint that reflects a fashionable preoccupation with identity politics.
San Salvador de Jujuy, Argentina
John McWhorter’s article only touches the edge of a bigger issue. At Timberwolf Litigation, we assist inmates with post-conviction issues. We have customers who are poor and white as well as poor and Hispanic who have problems with their court transcripts. Typically they also have trouble explaining their case to us and have misunderstood what their criminal and appeal lawyers tried to tell them. Usually this means they will spend time in prison.