Court Reporter's Station
While the trend in many courts has been away from the use of live court reporters, many courts continue to use live court reporters in the courtroom to take the official record.
The court reporter's station should be adjacent to the witness stand so that the reporter can clearly view the witness's facial expressions and hear voice testimony. The court reporter should also have an unobstructed view of all participants in the courtroom, including the judge, witness box, jury box, and attorney's tables. The court reporter should be as inconspicuous as possible, particularly to the witness, who should not be made to feel self-conscious, and to the jurors, who should not be distracted from the witness's testimony.
In courts using electronic audio recording, a specially trained clerk usually monitors the equipment to make sure that it is recording properly. This recording monitor's station can be located where the court reporter would normally sit or can be at the court clerk’s station. Most live court reporters also make use of audio recording equipment as a means of providing back up and need space and electrical outlets for their equipment.
The court reporter should have a small dedicated work area, storage space, and be shielded by a modesty panel. An enclosed, or semi-enclosed area also helps to hide equipment from view and permits a neater and more dignified appearance.
Access to the reporter's station should be easy and direct from the courtroom’s public entrance or side staff entrance.
Court reporters should be located within easy sight and hearing of the witness and the judge. Typically the court reporter is located between the judge and witness, or in front of the witness stand.
The court reporter should not obstruct the view of the witness by the judge or the jurors. These placements allow for private communication between the reporter and the judge and close proximity to witnesses, whose testimony may often be difficult to hear or understand. When side-bar conferences occur between the judge and attorneys, the reporter is in a position to hear and record the remarks. These locations also provide the court reporter with the full visual command of the litigation area, and a position that enables the judge, jurors, and attorneys to hear the reporter equally well when the judge requests that parts of the transcript be read.
The reporter should be separated from the witness box by one or two feet. If the two areas are immediately adjacent to one another, a barrier should be provided between the witness box and the court reporter.
Each court of record should have a work station for recording trial proceedings. The design and image of the court reporter's station should be compatible with the style and finishes of the judge's bench and other courtroom furniture.
The court reporter's station may be at floor level or elevated on one riser. A floor-level location is more accessible to persons with a disability, further accentuates the prominence of the judge's bench, and minimizes the possibility of obstructing the judge's or attorneys' view of the witness. An elevated location puts the court reporter on the same level with the witness, a benefit for recording, and provides a better overall view of the courtroom.
The court reporter's station should have the same task lighting as the judge's bench. The acoustic needs of live court reporters are different from those of an electronic recording system. Live court reporters typically require a more acoustically live courtroom than does the electronic recording.
Although the court reporter's equipment will be determined by the method of court reporting, the space described above should accommodate the following reporting methods:
- Stenotype. Requires a movable chair, space for the stenotype machine, and adequate electrical outlets.
- Computer-aided transcription. Requires a comfortable chair with back support, desk space for transcription machine, video monitor, silent printer, and adequate electrical outlets.
- Electronic recording. Requires a permanent workstation that will accommodate recording equipment, space for note-taking and log entries, audio jacks for the sound-recording equipment, and a comfortable chair.
- Videotaping. Requires appropriate camera locations, a permanent workstation that will accommodate any in-court monitoring equipment, conduits for the necessary wiring, and a comfortable chair. The permanent work station may be located outside the courtroom.
The court reporter's station need not be immediately accessible but should be adaptable to provide future accessibility. This requires space to accommodate a wheelchair and unobstructed turning space within the workspace, an accessible path to the work area which coincides with the non-accessible circulation path to the area, space to locate a permanent ramp or lift, and an accessible desk.
Raised floor levels at the court reporter's position may be served with a movable ramp, as court reporters are often employees of the court, and advance planning will allow temporary installation of the ramp for court personnel assigned to that courtroom who require access to their workstation. Not all court reporters, however, are court employees.
Many courts make use of contract or outside reporters who need access from the public circulation system. Many court reporter positions will need to be accessible from both the public and private circulation areas of the courthouse. A relatively easy solution to making the court reporter station wheelchair accessible is to locate it at floor level adjacent to the witness stand.
Because a court reporter may at times be sitting near a potentially hostile and violent witness, the court reporter's station should allow for an easy escape.
The court reporter may have a small desk for storing supplies, recording tapes, and equipment. If the station is adjacent to the judge, the distance from the desk to the back wall should be at least 5 feet, to accommodate equipment, various seating angles, and easy access.
If located in the litigation area, the court reporter should have table space and comfortable seating appropriate to the recording methods being used.
The court reporter's station requires approximately 25 to 30 square feet, including circulation.
The court reporter station should have several electrical outlets and enough space for audio recording equipment. The station should also be made ready for computer terminals and video technology. A silent printer for producing transcripts in the courtroom may be needed.