Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

County Needs Court Reporters ; Court: Reporters Can Earn Up to $54,839

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

County Needs Court Reporters ; Court: Reporters Can Earn Up to $54,839

Article excerpt

Shawnee County District Court is "very short" on the number of its court reporters, who record every word said during court hearings and trials before the court's 15 judges, the managing court reporter for district courts said.

The court has eight court reporters, according to Miranda Cummings, a court reporter for eight years, all in Shawnee County District Court.

"We are constantly shuffling from judge to judge, all day long, all of us," Cummings said. "Ideally, if we had 12 reporters, that would sufficiently cover what we need."

Not all judges require a court reporter all the time, Cummings said. Some do.

The court reporter is the person sitting in front of the judge's bench who records everything said during a court proceeding.

Besides recording a word-for-word record, the reporter also keeps track of the evidence as it is entered during the proceeding, which is a crucial task, Chief Judge Evelyn Wilson said.

The best way to keep an accurate and complete record is through a court reporter, Wilson said.

"It's critically important because people have a right to appeal (a case) to an appellate court for the assurance that what was done here was done correctly," Wilson said.

When a case is appealed, appellate judges review the evidence, including everything said during trials and hearings in a district courtroom.

If court reporters don't record what is said in court, plan B would be a digital recording of the proceedings, Wilson said.

"Plan B is never as good as a court reporter," the chief judge said, adding digital recording isn't as reliable as a court reporter.

Crucial quotes in a case can be obscured in digital recordings by the shuffling of papers, coughing, a crying baby or someone clicking a pen.

If the missing quotations are critical to a case, the only way to fix the problem might require a retrial of the case, the chief judge said.

The court reporter either uses a keyboard to type everything said by the judge, lawyers and witnesses or speaks into a steno mask, a handheld mask with a voice silencer to record the hearing. …

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