Judges favor Realtime reporting

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  • | 12:00 p.m. July 17, 2003
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by J. Brooks Terry

Staff Writer

Stressing the ongoing need for a “functional” and “full service courthouse,” Circuit Court Judge Lance Day said he favors Realtime translation — software programmed to instantly translate stenographic symbols into plain, legible English — over other products available on the market and under consideration for the new Duval County Courthouse.

Day serves on an advisory board for the new courthouse with fellow judges A.C. Soud and Mallory Cooper.

“I rely extensively on Realtime software in the courtroom,” said Day. “It’s accurate and works very quickly. For instance, as soon as an attorney objects to something someone may have said during a trial, I can read it back to them before they even get to the sidebar. I’m very pleased with it. Accuracy is very, very important.”

Court reporter Faye Gay added Realtime is “the only technology with the ability to immediately convert transcripts into legible English . . . with accuracy, correct punctuation, proper synonyms and speaker identification.”

Gay, who types upwards of 260 words per minute and is one of the few court reporters in Jacksonville certified to operate the software, also serves as president of the Jacksonville Court Reporters Association.

“Stenotype court reporters also have the ‘human factor’ and are aware and able to stop the proceedings if there is a malfunction with any of the software or equipment or an unintelligible uttering by a party,” she said.

Digital reporting, another reporting option currently under review by the State which relies more heavily on audio recording rather than human transcription, has proven more limited in its ability to translate low-level noise or multiple voices in the court. Such sounds are only labeled “inaudible” during play back.

“I feel digital reporting may be somewhat impractical at this point in time,” said Day of the roughly $15 million startup fees required of the system.

Day said Realtime, which is significantly less costly, has already greatly advanced in the few years he has used it and he hopes to further expand its role once court operations are relocated to the new facilities on Duval Street.

“I think it would be beneficial if we could provide a screen for those who are hearing impaired in the courtroom,” said Day. “We could also save a lot of time and money if we didn’t have locate an interpreter for them.”

Gay said digital audio recording will “never meet the requirements of the American Disabilities Act, which states that all hearing-impaired persons should have access immediately to English text of the proceedings.”

Though praising the system, Day expressed some concern over what role, if any it would assume once construction on the new courthouse concludes in 2006.

“We’re in a bit of an influx right now while the State decides what technology to pursue,” he said. “I know they are making sure they have all of the available information and all I can do is try to assure them that the most accurate recording method available is to have a reporter in the room who is using Realtime.”



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