Judicial Branch Celebrates National Court Reporters Week

by Vincent Funari

PHOENIX (Feb. 9, 2021) – At speeds up to 300 typed words per minute, court reporters have some of the fastest fingers in the world.

From February 5 to 12, the Judicial Branch of Arizona in Maricopa County is recognizing the amazing skill of court reporters and their dedication to the rule of law by celebrating National Court Reporting and Captioning Week.

“I would like to thank each of our court reporters for their dedication to the Judicial Branch, and their commitment toward the administration of justice. I recognize the work they do and appreciate their contributions to this court so we can meet our mission, vision and values,” said Christopher Bleuenstein, administrator of Court Reporting & Court Interpreter/Translation Services.

Court reporters not only have to type extremely fast, but they must type with 95% accuracy. They are trained to type as fast as people speak using shorthand on a stenographic machine. They document everything that is said, making them an essential function of what happens in the courtroom. Court reporters are responsible for ensuring a complete, accurate and secure legal record.

To become a court reporter in the state of Arizona, a person must pass the Registered Professional Reporter exam and a written Supreme Court of Arizona test. They must also complete a minimum of 10 hours of continuing education for state and national certification, each year. Recent seminars have included tips for virtual hearings, software technology and real-time reporting and captioning. To pass the Registered Professional Reporter exam, each segment must be completed with 95% accuracy. The segments are Literary at 180 words per minute, Jury Charge at 200 words per minute, and Testimony Questions and Answers at 225 words per minute.

“In reality, people talk faster than 225 words per minute. Therefore, the range of a court reporter is closer to 260-300 words per minute,” Bleuenstein said.

Over the years, technological advances have changed the profession, and court reporters themselves were required to adjust to technology.

One such advancement is real-time reporting. Judges use real-time court reporter services during trials and oral arguments so they can quickly look at the testimony to make a ruling or save the file to review later. About one-third of the Maricopa County Superior Court’s court reporters are certified in real-time reporting.

The Judicial Branch of Arizona in Maricopa County employs 32 court reporters who support all the criminal judicial officers when a mandated hearing is happening. They also serve Civil, Probate, Family and Juvenile Department divisions upon request.

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