In the 1990s courtrooms across the country began making a switch from court reporter transcribed proceedings to Audio Visual (AV) recording systems, marking the birth of Digital Court Reporting (DCR). Replacing trained stenographers was a sound technician who would operate the latest multichannel microphones strategically placed throughout the courtroom.
The wave of digital reporting is closely linked to progressively shrinking courtroom budgets, with AV recording systems now in a clear majority of courts across the country. Organizations such as the American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers (AAERT) have created a support network with certifications, continuing education, and resource centers for this industry to thrive.
How does DCR differ from vTestify?
Digital reporting has its roots in the courtroom, with little traction over the years for out of court testimony such as depositions. The deposition market is predominately run by freelance court reporters who associate and transcribe for large court reporting agencies throughout the country. vTestify’s service provides support for a host of out-of-court testimony including depositions, arbitrations, client onboarding, and witness preparation.
Both Digital Court Reporters and vTestify capture testimony using cameras and microphones, however, there are some key differences. DCRs use high end, expensive recording equipment with multichannel microphone arrays, sound balancing, mixer boards, and more. These advanced systems that are installed in courtrooms have a high initial cost but can result in savings over time when you factor in the cost savings associated with the reduced reliance on court reporters.
With vTestify, the initial hardware setup is minimal. Today’s consumer webcams and microphones have reached a high level of quality and are typically plug and play, no need for a sound engineering degree. Most modern laptops have high-quality microphones and cameras built in already. However, for an even better experience, we recommend a USB enabled omnidirectional microphone that can cost between $50- $80, a small price to pay in consideration of our cost savings to a court reporter. These configurations make it viable for any attorney to easily record high-quality remote testimony using the computers they already own.
While a significant percentage of courtrooms have switched to digital recordings that don’t require legal transcription, there remain many court proceedings that do need a transcript. Due to this, DCRs are reliant on stenography services by court reporters or legal transcriptionists. In North Carolina for example, you’ll receive a DVD with your audio recording and you’ll need to find a freelance court reporter from an approved list to transcribe your courtroom testimony.
vTestify has reinvented the process of legal transcription. We use Speech-to-text (STT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), followed by three human layers to produce the highest quality transcripts possible. The first human layer compares the STT to the video and audio recording, making edits along the way, the second human layer is responsible for proofreading the transcript for any errors, and the third formats the raw, edited transcript to meet the legal standards required.
vTestify is not a court reporter, or “reporter” of any kind. A court reporter is an individual who has learned the art of stenography to capture the spoken word, a truly impressive skill. Digital Court Reporters are attempting to hold onto the title of “reporter” and may even sell their services as “court reporting,” to the ire of actual court reporters.
Digital court reporters have attempted to make their way into the deposition market but have been met with strong resistance by the freelance court reporters they rely on. vTestify is attempting to do things differently, which is why we intentionally do not refer to our services as “reporting”. After all, our tagline is “all without a court reporter”.