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In his own words: Student Matt Moss’ court reporting mock trial work for Emory

January 17, 2012

Court reporting student Matt Moss of the Brown College of Court Reporting in Alpharetta, Ga., recently volunteered for a mock trial at Emory Law. He reflects on his experience at the mock trial in a piece that he wrote for the StenAdvocate. Read more from Matt, in his own words:  

My recent experience as a student court reporter at the Emory Law’s fall mock trials was an instructive glimpse of one of the potential career paths that lay in front of me. I would highly recommend the experience of some flight time in the official reporter’s chair to any student looking for a taste of a day in the life of an official court reporter.

The juxtaposition of the task of stenographic writing for hours versus the speed drills and tests we take in school became obvious both mentally and physically. Opening statements, the testimony of witnesses, and the judge addressing the jury are all different beasts when they come to life right in front of you. I gained a real appreciation for the job that the official must put in every day, year after year.

 My school sends a few students to help out with mock trials every quarter for several of the law schools in and around Atlanta. A voice writer from our school and I were assigned to this case. She preferred that I sit up front near the judge, and I happily obliged. I set up my laptop and had CaseCatalyst up; I was running a realtime translation of my writing. Fortunately for me, the attorneys were back a bit from the laptop screen and were fully consumed with delivering the best mock orations they could. It served mainly as a tool for me to keep track of who was speaking.

The four young men who were being examined each had their own styles, and one in particular was quick in his manner of questioning. He even asked me to “strike that” several times, and so even if I was way behind him with my writing, I’d noticeably pause and throw him a few asterisk strokes. Though my part of the exercise was not their main focus, I felt it was important for them to see the court reporter up by the judge, working with a realtime feed.

My favorite part of the experience — and the bit I’m most looking forward to transcribing — came at the end of the mock trial. The six-person jury, composed mainly of freshmen in high school, passed on their verdict and departed the courtroom. The main mock trial exercise had ended, and the judge spent another half hour or so sharing his wisdom with the aspiring lawyers on their profession, their various argumentative styles, and their prospects as it relates to this economy. These guys will be taking the bar exam soon, and I look forward to delivering to them the record of what the judge said to them. Perhaps it will provide an inspirational lift for them on some future study break.

 Overall, the experience was more than worth getting up early on my day off, dressing the part, and battling Atlanta traffic. There is so much more I need to learn and master, and participating in this mock trial helped me to appreciate that fact.