When a person hears the word “court,” the first things that usually come to mind are “lawyer” or “judge.” While the court system is primarily centered on these two parties, there are also various other professionals who work to ensure that the court system is able to run smoothly and efficiently deliver justice.
In Phoenix, Arizona, one of the most populous cities in the United States, court proceedings involve many individuals working as court reporters, court clerks, or scopists to carefully handle the documentation of the proceedings occurring in court.
Without the work of these unheralded staff, it is unlikely that the court system as we know it today would continue to exist. Take a closer look at what exactly these professions involve and what makes their work so important to the court system.
A court reporter is responsible for transcribing spoken or recorded speech into written text through shorthand or voice writing equipment. These verbatim transcripts will be used to create the official court transcripts, which help safeguard the legal proceedings and can be used by litigants who wish to file an appeal on a decision made by the court.
Because of the precision involved in the responsibilities of a court reporter, they are required to be certified. In order to receive certification, they must have an excellent command of language, attention to detail, and sustained focus for long periods of time.
These specialized skills also make them a great asset outside of court, as many court reporters also transcribe proceedings in the legislature, and provide real-time transcriptions for public and private events. Court reporters may also work closely with broadcast stations to provide real-time close-captions for the hearing-impaired.
The primary responsibility of the scopist is to edit and proofread the rough transcript prepared by the court reporter. The scopist receives the rough transcript from the court reporter following legal proceedings, and checks for mistakes in spelling, grammar, and translation, fills in any missing words and formats the transcript accordingly in order to create an accurate record of what transpired in court.
Scopists likewise require strong language skills and attention to detail. Unlike court reporters, however, scopists do not require certification and are not required to appear in court.
This means they are able to work from home as freelancers and are paid by the court reporter. This close working relationship makes them similarly invaluable to the court system.
While court reporters and scopists are in charge of creating the official court transcripts, it is the court clerk who is in charge of maintaining, filing, and archiving these documents. The court clerk performs most of the administrative functions in court, including maintaining court records, preparing court agendas and dockets of cases needed, and keeping a record of issuance and receipt of court documents.
They are also responsible for the court’s accounting and bookkeeping duties. While most courts do not require specific training or education to be employed as a court clerk, organization skills, customer service, and knowledge of accounting and financial management are usually asked of prospective clerks.
Without individuals who possess these skills working hard to keep the court system running, the legal process might even be severely compromised with inefficiency and a lack of accountability, the worst possible scenario for a judicial office.
Although these positions are seldom heralded, the work done is vital to the operations of the court system. Let us continue to recognize these unsung individuals for their invaluable daily contributions to delivering justice in the country.