NCRA cites why digital recording is not failsafe
RESTON, Va., Dec. 7, 2021 — The use of a live stenographic court reporter in the case of Darrell Brooks would have most certainly guaranteed that an official record of prior proceedings would have been available to the judge, potentially changing the outcome of a recent bond hearing that resulted in his release just days prior to the horrific and tragic holiday parade incident Brooks is being charged with, according to the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA), the country’s leading organization representing stenographic court reporters, captioners, and legal videographers.
“We don’t know if having a record would have changed the judge’s decision in terms of the bond fees, but having an official record of previous charges to review against Mr. Brooks just days before the parade incident might have resulted in a very different outcome, as well as having that record available for review so that if a reversal of ruling was needed, then it could be pursued before this individual was released resulting in this harm to innocent people,” said NCRA President Debra A. Dibble, RDR, CRR, CRC, a freelance court reporter and captioner from Salt Lake City, Utah, with more than 30 years of experience.
Brooks has been charged with six counts of intentional homicide and injuring more than 60 others participating in or attending the parade.
“NCRA and its membership do not condone the use of digital recorders for record-making purposes. Reasons include issues surrounding chain of custody, security of the record, and accuracy of the record,” Dibble said.
“A stenographer uses a system of steno markings to record the testimony that is so personalized to that individual reporter it becomes a realtime watermark for each word that is spoken, making it incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to tamper with or change the official record. The presence of a live person between what is being said during a proceeding and what is being taken down as the official record further prevents the opportunity for anyone to manipulate or destroy testimony taken during a legal proceeding, not to mention the human oversight and immediate verification that a record is actually being recorded and not discovered at some later date that electronics weren't working,” Dibble explained.
According to NCRA, the Brooks case is not the first example of digital recording devices failing to capture the official record in the courtroom. In addition, news reports have also cited that officials in the Milwaukee County District Court where Brooks appeared before the parade incident, were warned about the potential failures associated with using digital means to record proceedings.
NCRA notes that in this day and age of deep fakes and tampering with audio and theft of voice and image, a certified stenographic court reporter is the best protection for ensuring that what is captured in legal proceedings is accurate and truthful as well as enforcing personal privacy laws.
The record is imperative to liberty, human rights, and in this case even lives and should never have been put at risk by using an inferior method of keeping the record.
“We, as professional stenographers, are the keepers of your record; we hold this responsibility with the highest level of integrity. Many stenographers are nationally or locally certified, are required to abide by state and national laws, and are required to engage in mandatory continuing education training. We know how important an accurate, usable transcript is to all parties, and we always strive to ensure it is distributed when requested by those who have the right to that record within the confines of the law. We are bound by confidentiality requirements and by ethical standards that are not taken lightly,” Dibble added.
To arrange an interview with President Dibble or a working court reporter or captioner, or to learn more about the lucrative and flexible court reporting or captioning professions and the many job opportunities currently available, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.