Monday, September 10, 2007

For the record: Court reporters are in short supply

Transcribing trials is a must, but these days, fewer people are entering the profession

Sunday, September 09, 2007

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- They've been around since before the days of Perry Mason, tapping out trial testimony to create a permanent record. But these days, the ranks of court reporters are dwindling, making them almost as valuable to court proceedings as the more vocal players -- the witnesses, lawyers and judges.

Courts on Staten Island and elsewhere are scrambling to find good ones and the shortage looks like it will continue. In a city that is home to 8 million people, there are just 405 Supreme Court reporters -- just 25 on Staten Island. There are 10 court reporters deployed in family, civil and criminal court.

According to Reesa Parker, president of the National Court Reporters Association, the number of schools taking part in NCRA's certification programs and their graduates have steadily declined over the decade. Almost 1,000 students graduated from more than 100 NCRA-certified schools in 1996. This year, 62 certified programs across the U.S. will graduate fewer than 350 court reporters.

Student enrollment is down at area schools that offer specialized courses in court reporting, such as Manhattan's New York Career Institute, SUNY Alfred State University and Stenotech in New Jersey.

Many prospective students are scared away from the career path at the get-go, fearing they'll eventually be replaced by a tape recorder.

"They don't want to start a career that may be phased out eventually," says Supreme Court reporter Robin Lueddeke in St. George.

The shortage of court reporters started a number of years ago in state, largely due to a state pilot program that used electronic recording.

"They had made it public knowledge by putting it out in newspapers, that the court systems [were] going to be installing electonic recorders," says Brian DiGiovanna, president of the Association of Surragate's and Supreme Court Reporters, the city's court reporters' union. "It scared people. It scared parents and it scared people who were thinking of going into the field."

When less people showed up to apply for entrance level testing, "they realized that it was a big mistake, and they tried to correct that mistake," DiGiovanna says.

State court officials tried to right the ship by expanding college training programs that had dwindled down to two schools in the New York City area.

Find a court reporter nationwide today

1 comment:

Rosalie Kramm said...

There are currently on-line court reporting schools that are available to students since so many "physical" schools have shut down. Stenograph owns two of the schools. I believe only a disciplined person can graduate from an online school. It can be done.

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