Digital System To Put More Than Half Of Mass. Trial Court Reporters Out Of Work

Sep 11, 2017

For years, court reporters have only been serving in Massachusetts Superior Court, which hears felony criminal cases and high-dollar civil cases.

But a test of a new digital recording system is now complete, and state plans to use it instead of the reporters. 

"There will be full-time court reporters on staff through June of 2018," said Jon Williams, administrator for the Massachusetts trial court. "For the most serious felony cases, we will use court reporters that we hire on a daily basis."

Sixteen of the 37 court reporters are being trained to become courtroom monitors and will oversee the new systems. Of the 21 losing their jobs, some will work per diem transcribing the audio and others are retiring.

The Massachusetts Association of Court Reporters said that live court reporters remain the gold standard for accurately conveying what happens.

Court Reporters Working For Mass. Trial Court
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The Massachusetts Bar Association said it originally had very serious concerns about the move, but after months of learning about the new system, it's much more at ease with the change. 

"We recognize the need for the court to modernize," said Martin Healy, the group's chief legal counsel. "We were very pleased with the court decision to hire court reporters on a daily basis to cover the serious felony cases in Superior Court."

Healy said the bar association's remaining concern is that the transition runs smoothly over the next year or so.