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Court Reporters

LISA DIMONTE: The most common question that we always get is, how do you get it all down? How does that little machine work?

DAWN HART: And it is kind of looks like a mini typewriter, but it is not. In a typewriter you will hit one key at a time and you will get one letter at a time. The difference is with this particular machine, this court-reporting machine, I could depress all the keys at once. It is more like being a pianist actually because when you are pressing one key on the piano, you make a note, but if you press multiple keys at the same time, you are making a cord or symphony. I can go just like this and I have written a sentence.

LISA DIMONTE: In that split second with one stroke, we were able to write “ladies and gentleman of the jury."

DAWN HART: 10 to 15 years ago, I tested it to 280 words per minute.

LISA DIMONTE: Licensing by the national court reporters association begins at 225 words per minute.

DAWN HART: The simplest word "the," "uh," little articles that do not sound like hey are important are major.

LISA DIMONTE:  If there is any delay whatsoever or hesitancy whatsoever, a sentence, word, or paragraph has gone by.

DAWN HART: We do have a backup ideal to computer that creates a voice file, so I have an automatic backup.

LISA DIMONTE: We are keepers of the record and not makers of the record. It is not up to us to judge or interpret what the witness said or perhaps did not say.

DAWN HART: I am there to listen, I am there to write and I am not there to make any judgments.

LISA DIMONTE: What lawyers do to drive us crazy is when they are trying to make a point, the witnesses speaking and giving an answer and the attorney is asking a next question on top of it.

DAWN HART: Then you contend with people not finishing and then the other person speaking faster will get on top of the person that is not ready or finished.

LISA DIMONTE: That is what drives us crazy as lawyers talking on top of each other and arguing back on forth without taking a breath. We will just sometimes need to gently remind them that we are trying to keep the record and one person at a time.

Lisa DiMonte

Law Can Be Stranger than Fiction

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