Court Reporting

Many legal entities rely on a reputable legal transcription company for timely and accurate transcripts of court proceedings. According to a recent ABA article, social distancing requirements have led to important court hearings and multi-billion-dollar negotiations being held via audio calls and videoconferences. Is the transcription process also changing through the adoption of AI and automation tools? Given the shortage of court reporters, technology has made its way into courtrooms, but accurate and timely transcripts from the digital recordings would be still necessary.

Reports of court proceedings must cover everything that goes on the court and was said by the prosecution and the defence. They must contain the charges, all the evidence, as well as the verdict and sentence. Accurate capture of the words spoken by all parties involved in the judicial process is of utmost importance – any error can have a significant impact on people’s lives. Error-free verbatim transcripts of court proceedings capture both the verbal and non-verbal elements that communicate the true intent behind the spoken words.

Digital recording can be an effective way to capture, produce and preserve the court record. Digitally recording court proceedings involves the use of strategically placed microphones and video recorders throughout the courtroom. The state-of-the-art recording equipment used to record court proceedings have several systems in place to identify speakers, can be played back, and ensure relevant notes.

The reliability of digital recording, however, depends on having protections to ensure that the system is working properly. The quality of the equipment and on security policies governing use of the equipment are also important factors when it comes to reliability. There should be proper methods in place to for safe storage, archiving, and retrieving recordings of proceedings as well as for court proceedings transcription. Today, AI and natural language processing is being used to examine and transcribe court records. With social distancing and the shortage of court reporters, AI transcription seems to be a practical, time-saving, and cost-effective option.

But how reliable is AI-assisted legal transcription?

In a recent article in the ABA Journal, legal professionals expressed their opinion about this. Chelsie M. Lamie, a Florida based civil lawyer, said she in favor of developing and using AI-driven technologies in the legal industry, but is not supportive of replacing a court reporter with AI technology, such as voice to text or video to text. Another lawyer pointed out that AI cannot replace a court reporter: A human court reporter is important to ensure accurate verbatim transcripts which play a critical role in litigation, court proceedings and the appellate process,” says Reesa Parker, co-founder of Dallas-based Goucher Parker Spivey. Court reporters will clarify a spelling or if the deponent’s speech is inaudible or difficult to understand. AI cannot do this.

Studies that compared the accuracy rates of human transcriptionists and automated speech recognition software found that the error rate of human transcriptionists was about 4% while ASR transcription software had an error rate of 12% (www.business2community.com). Machines or AI have not advanced to the point where they can pick up the nuances of human language nuances. Automated transcription software cannot understand and place specific terms, accents, tones, nuances, and idioms as competently as a human transcriptionist.

Established digital transcription service providers, on the other hand, have all the resources necessary to deliver timely and accurate courts proceeding transcription.

  • They have professional transcriptionists and proofreaders who are well-versed in legal terminology and jargon and can easily deliver accurate transcripts.
  • Teams work with sophisticated tools to support collaboration among digital reporters, transcribers and proofreaders and ensure highly accurate and timely transcripts.
  • They can offer daily and even hourly turnaround for transcripts of any size.

The accuracy of legal transcripts is vital when it comes to winning the case, but it is clear that speech-to-text dictation and other transcription software cannot provide complete accuracy. While AI-augmented transcription tools may provide a solution for documentation backlogs that may occur due to social distancing, only an experienced legal transcription company will be able to provide error-free transcripts of legal proceedings.