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Indiana Becomes Latest State to Experiment With Video Court Transcripts

Things continue to spiral in the wrong direction for those in the court-reporting profession. As I have discussed here, states such as Texas have now determined -- over the objection of organizations like the Texas Court Reporters Certification Board -- that oral depositions meant for use in litigation in the courts of Texas can be recorded solely by non-stenographic means (e.g., by video camera or an audio recording). Most recently, The Indiana Lawyer reports, several courts in Indiana launched an "unprecedented experiment" on August 1, 2012, in which they are recording proceedings with digital video. The video will serve as the official trial court record unless the judge specifically orders a paper transcript in a case.

Indiana is attempting to follow in the footsteps of the state of Kentucky, where courts statewide have remarkably "relied almost exclusively on video transcripts for nearly 30 years," The Indiana Lawyer reports. Kurt Maddox of Jefferson Audio Video Systems in Louisville, Ky., which helped introduce cameras in Kentucky in the early 1980s and recently installed cameras in the Indiana courts conducting the experiment, is his company's "chief evangelist" for the use of video recording. Maddox acknowledges that it takes significant effort to overcome the status quo of paper transcripts, but says that the success in Kentucky "sits out there challenging the traditional wisdom every day." He asserts that video transcripts are more accurate than those created by even the most professional court reporters, and that the use of video saves taxpayers approximately $24 million per year.

Still, court reporters continue to fight against the creeping use of video. Proponents of transcripts created the old fashioned way -- by court reporters -- argue that while video is the low-cost option, read-backs in the courtroom can be more difficult with digital recordings. In addition, they say, court reporters can produce a transcript minutes after the proceedings conclude. Some judges disagree, however. Kentucky Justice Michael McDonald, who helped guide Kentucky toward the use of digital recording, says that "[t]he court reporter's transcript is the rankest of hearsay; you're just trusting she hears it correctly."

Posted by Bruce Carton on August 8, 2012 at 02:47 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)


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