Jotting down someone’s every word isn’t easy. It’s even harder when two people join the conversation. Or three. And they start arguing.
That’s life for Sonoma County’s unsung legal heroes — court reporters — a tight-knit group of professionals responsible for typing up everything that is said in trials and other proceedings to create the official record.
The 10 full-time and four part-time county court reporters are silent witnesses to both criminal and civil matters, providing real-time transcription to judges following on laptop computers.
When they’re not taking verbatim notes at more than 200 words a minute, they prepare thousands of pages of transcripts a year for private attorneys or use their unique skills to provide TV captioning.
“You can’t miss anything,” said Barrie Hart, a court reporter for 29 years. “It’s intimidating. The first couple months I worked I was scared to death. I thought I was going to throw up every day.”
A new study suggests court reporters like Hart will be in high demand in the next three years, leading to a nationwide shortage.
Market analysts Ducker Worldwide said 5,500 new court reporter jobs will be available by 2018 as older workers retire and leave the field. Seventy percent of the nation’s 32,000 court reporters are older than 45, the report said.
Demand is expected to be greatest in California and three other states.
Read the whole story at The Press Democrat