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What Does a Court Reporter Do?

A court reporter, officially known as a certified shorthand reporter, must record everything that is said during official court proceedings. The proceeding might be a trial or a hearing. Rather than using a pencil and paper or a regular word processor that has a full keyboard, the court reporter uses a stenographic machine that has just 22 keys. Using those 22 keys, a court reporter can make symbols on a narrow strip of paper in the stenographic machine to record what is said in court. The stenographic machine has a computer to help convert the symbols into English.

A court reporter must also read out loud in court portions of what he or she has transcribed on the stenographic machine when the judge instructs the court reporter to do so.

A court reporter must also prepare an official written transcript of the proceeding.

How Does Someone Become A Court Reporter?

To become a certified shorthand reporter for the State of California Superior Court, a person must:

  • Learn how to use a stenographic machine and to record what people are saying as they are saying it.
  • Have a high school diploma.
  • Meet a number of academic requirements, such as taking classes in English and medical and legal terminology.
  • Attend a specialized court reporting school.
  • Be able to write down and translate symbols into a typed English format at the rate of 200 words a minute.
  • Pass the state-required test to obtain a Certified Shorthand Reporter (CSR) License issued by the Court Reporters Board of California.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do I obtain a transcript?

  • A: Call the Court Clerk's Office with the following information: the Date of the Hearing, the name of the case and case number, and the name of the judge. You will be referred to the person who reported the hearing on that date.

Q: How much does a transcript cost?

  • A: The cost varies with the length of the transcript. The rate is set by statute. The court reporter will provide a cost estimate. Upon receipt of payment, the reporter will begin preparation of the transcript.

Q: If we have paid for reporter fees, why don't we get a free transcript?

  • A: That's only to have a reporter present, making a record of the proceedings.

Q: How much do you charge a page?

  • A: We charge by Folio (100 words) not by page.