Minidisc Use in Court Stenography

Mark Muscat ([email protected])
October 2001

My wife is a court stenographer who transcribes court proceedings and depositions with a shorthand machine. While she is extremely fast (about 260 words per minute with 99.9% accuracy), she finds one piece of equipment invaluable to her: the Sony MZ-R700 Minidisc recorder. (Audio recording in a UK courtroom is permitted to court employees and officials, the court reporter being one).

Court reporters are not allowed to interrupt or otherwise hold up proceedings in court. So when lawyers or judges talk too quickly, witnesses stutter, or foreigners speak with heavy accents, she places a simple track mark at the spot. After the proceedings conclude she is able to easily return to the precise point for further listening, or to ask the respective person what they actually said.

My wife was actually the first in our London court reporting firm to use a MiniDisc recorder. Since then many our firm's reporters have purchased one for the same reasons. It does help when the recorder has a good size Track Mark button on its top surface, which is why the Sony MZ-R700 is ideal. And its MDLP feature, giving over 5 hours recording capacity per disc, is helpful for those times when the deposing attorney doesn't know to stop for the day!

The microphone she uses is a Sony ECM-R100. She monitors on headphones while recording from this microphone and sounds are amplified to the point that one can hear papers ruffling on the desk. In many of the old London courts the judge will sit high above the proceedings and can thus be rather difficult to hear. By placing a microphone on the table in front of him it is as though he were sitting beside you shouting in your ear. For rooms with bad acoustics the Sony ECM-R100 microphone is excellent.

For my wife and other court reporters who now use Minidisc, returning to the days of cassette recorders and good old-fashioned tapes would be a genuine hardship.

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