What is a Court Reporter?

Divorce and family law books behind a gavel with two gold wedding bands sitting on it

When involved in a deposition, hearing, or trial, you will likely see an individual diligently typing in the corner of the room. These individuals are court reporters, and are employed to transcribe the speech of every party, attorney, witness, and judge during a legal proceeding through stenography, digital, or voice writing. There are many qualifications and regulations that a court reporter must follow as well as many regulations for the employment of one by a party in a legal proceeding. Discuss with your Orlando Family Law Attorney the need for a court reporter and the regulations surrounding their employment.

There are three types of court reporting prescribed in Florida law; stenography, digital reporting, and voice writing. However, the most common comes in the form of stenographic services, or short hand typing. In order to be employed as a court reporter through stenography in a Florida court, the individual must receive the title of Registered Professional Reporter under the National Court Reporters Association. If providing digital court reports, the reporter must have a certification with the American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers. Finally, if reporting through voice writing, a certification with the National Verbatim Reporters Association is required.

Under the Florida Family Rules of Procedure, court reporters are used in depositions, hearings before general magistrates, special magistrates, and judges. If a deposition is taken in a Family Law matter under rule 12.310, the deposition may be videotaped but must also be stenographically recorded, unless the parties agree otherwise. The parties are responsible for acquiring the court reporter for these discovery tactics. Under rule 12.490, hearings before general and special magistrates are also to be recorded. However, within the original order of referral to the general or special magistrate, it will state the method of recording, being electronic or if a court reporter is required. The order will also designate if the court reporter will be provided by the court or the parties. If an action is before a judge, it will be important to determine the type of Family Law action before the judge, prior to determining the method of court reporting necessary.

Florida courts require that digital court reporting alone not be used for Family Law cases such as domestic violence injunctions, delinquency, dependency, and guardianship proceedings. However, in other Family Law actions either stenography or digital court reports are permitted. Therefore, when determining your need for a court reporter, first assess the action before you, if it is a hearing before a magistrate or judge, or if it is a deposition. If there is a deposition, the best practice is to have a stenographer present to report the questioning and responses, however, you are permitted to have the depositions videotaped, and waive the court reporter, but only if both parties agree. Further, if you have a hearing before a magistrate seek out the information of the recording to be used or required, in the order of referral to the magistrate. If the court is providing an electronic recording, or a court reporter in the hearing before a magistrate, you will not need to employ a court reporter on your own unless so desired. Finally, if you are having a hearing or trial before a judge, you will need to determine the type of case and the method of recording required or desired. Generally, the party requesting the deposition will bear the cost of employing a court reporter. However, for hearings or trials, the cost is commonly split between the parties, unless otherwise agreed.  

Court reporters can be crucial to your case as their documents and dictation can be used in many cases later at trial or on appeal. Therefore, it is important to understand their position and necessary requirements and costs. Discuss their position further with your Orlando Family Law Attorney.

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