What’s up with those bossy stenographers?

Written by Lauren N. Lawrence, RPR

January 25, 2023

Have you ever noticed a stenographer (court reporter) being a little…”bossy”?  Whenever people begin to speak at once in the courtroom or during a deposition, the stenographer is quick to intervene and remind them to speak clearly and slowly.  But why is that?  What’s the big deal?

Let’s take a look at the reasons why stenographers are, on occasion, a little bossy.


Precision Over Pleasantries


First and foremost, it’s important to remember that stenographers have a vital role in our justice system.  Stenographers and voice writers are official officers of the court, and they are required to accurately take down every word spoken in the proceeding — no small feat!

This demands that they’re constantly attentive, focused, and alert at all times.  As such, they can’t afford to let people mumble, talk softly, or let everyone speak at the same time, the way you can in casual conversation.  When a reporter speaks up, it’s never meant to be rude!  Rather, it’s to protect the validity of important testimony.

The responsibility of this role means guiding people to speak slowly and clearly so everything said can be reported successfully.  Therefore, if someone does start talking too quickly or stumbling over their words, a stenographer will likely interject with polite reminders about speaking slowly and clearly for accuracy purposes.


Other Methods of Reporting


Individuals who use other (non-stenograph or voice writing) methods of reporting typically have a fraction of the training and have not developed an ear to detect when the record is in potential danger.  It’s a nuanced skill that takes time to evolve.

What sends up a red flag for a certified stenographer or voice writer may sound like minimal overlapping dialogue to a non-stenographic or non-voice reporter.  Unfortunately, if these situations are not directly remedied, the at-risk testimony is not likely to ever be recovered, resulting in a high volume of filler words or phrases, such as “[Indiscernible]” throughout the transcript.

In addition, if the testimony is recorded through audio only and transcribed after the fact, it creates a greater margin for error (especially if it is transcribed by a third-party person who was not originally present).  Filler words and inaccuracies can be extremely frustrating for attorneys or other parties involved and may require a repeat of a proceeding or even alter the outcome of the case.

If you’re a party to a case, it’s important to confirm that your court reporter is, in fact, a certified stenographer or a certified voice writer (steno mask reporter) who is accurately translating the proceeding as it’s being written.  Need to find a certified stenographer?  Check out ProtectYourRecord.com or the National Court Reporter Association PROLink Directory.


Stenographers Are Doing Their Job Well


Finally, let’s not forget that when stenographers seem strict on the surface, it usually means they are doing their jobs well!  After all, good court reporters should be able to keep up with fast-paced proceedings without letting any key information slip through the cracks, something that requires confidence and authority on their part.  It’s really an indication of how competent and focused they are while capturing every word.

From ensuring the accuracy of legal transcripts by reinforcing that everyone is speaking clearly and slowly to displaying professionalism as court reporters, stenographers always have your best interest in mind!  While it may catch you off guard when a court reporter jumps into action with reminders of speaking more slowly or requesting more enunciation, it’s worth remembering that these professionals know exactly how to ensure the ultimate verbatim standard of legal proceedings.

So next time you’re in a courtroom or deposition proceeding, make sure you listen closely (and speak slowly!) if you hear some “bossiness” from your truly friendly, abundantly competent certified stenographer!



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