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Stenographers brace for intro of digital recording

Guardian Senior Reporter

Published: Oct 07, 2013

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As the government moves to introduce digital recording in the courts, some stenographers believe that real time reporting is really the way forward.

Ludell Eneas Theophilus, the owner of L.E.T. consulting, which is contracted to provide 22 court reporters, said that a human reporter can interpret a nod as a “yes” or “no” or ask a witness to repeat himself.  A human reporter can also focus on the proceedings and would not record background noise such as a door slamming.

Theophilus said she has been told that the digital recording was designed to lessen reporters’ workloads.

She said, “That’s good because we were always short of reporters. We’ve gotten more magistrates and judges, but no more reporters.”

Theophilus said that while many reporters use real time reporting to make transcript preparation easier, only Justice Roy Jones has the spoken work converted to written text on a computer screen as testimony takes place.

The Nassau Guardian understands that the recording system was tested during a murder trial last year. However, the transcripts produced from the recording was reportedly “gibberish”.

A source told The Guardian, “Thank God there was a reporter present or there would be no record.”

Stenographers understand that once the system is introduced, someone will be responsible for monitoring the machines, turning them off and on and writing down who’s speaking.

Reporters said when digital recorders were used in 2006/2007 the tapes were sent to Singapore for transcription. Those transcripts reportedly contained “lots of inaudibles”, according to sources.

The Free National Movement administration discontinued the program when it won the government.

The reporters note that the government has failed to ensure that their stenographic machines are serviced every three months. They say it is unlikely that the recording equipment would be properly maintained.

At the opening of the legal year, Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson said, “We hope that by the end of 2014, all of our courts will be equipped for digital recording.

“We believe that the most efficient justice system in the region will require both court reporters and digital recording, if we are to remain on the proverbial cutting edge.”

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