The iconic figure of the court stenographer has largely been replaced by digital recording devices in Superior Court in Hackensack and Paterson and almost all such courtrooms in New Jersey as the state judiciary moves toward new technology.Using recording machines is inevitable. Court reporters are a luxury. The local Santa Cruz reporter has dropped its court reporters from the family court, so proceedings are not reported or recorded unless the parties hire their own reporter.
Proponents say the change is a successful, cost-effective attempt by courts to keep pace with technology and keep reliable records of proceedings. But the switch also is being watched closely by skeptics, who say recording technology is never a full substitute for a court reporter.
Of concern are the uniquely human aspects now absent. For instance, court reporters often interrupt proceedings to get every word uttered by someone in a low tone or if more than one person is speaking at once. Recording equipment cannot do that, which explains the "inaudible" entries that often punctuate court transcripts from digital recordings.
The courts should just record everything and post the recordings online.
I do not agree that reporters are better when two parties speak at once. The local court has separate microphones for each speaker, so it could record a separate audio streams for each microphone. And if two people are speaking at once, then the judge is probably not getting it anyway.
As it is, people come out of family court confused about what happened and with no way to get a record. All because some judges don't like recording in the courtroom.