Federal court reporters record proceedings and produce transcripts.The Court Reporter Statute, 28 U.S.C. § 753 sets forth the proceedings to be recorded including: (1) all proceedings in criminal cases had in open court; (2) all proceedings in other cases had in open court unless the parties with the approval of the judge shall agree specifically to the contrary; and (3) such other proceedings as a judge of the court may direct or as may be required by rule or order of court as may be requested by any party to the proceeding.
By law, each session of court and every proceeding designated by rule or order of the court or by one of the judges shall be recorded verbatim by shorthand, stenotype, stenomask, or electronic sound recording equipment. The method of recording may be elected by the district judge.
One of the primary responsibilities of the court reporter is to provide a written transcript of court proceedings upon the request of a party or order of court. Written transcripts are prepared within the Judicial Conference’s guidelines on page format, page rates, and delivery schedules. The transcripts of proceedings recorded by electronic sound recording equipment are produced by private transcription services designated by the court to transcribe federal court proceedings.
The court reporters and transcribers may charge and collect fees for transcripts requested by the parties, including the United States. The fee schedule should be posted prominently in the district court clerk’s office or available on a court’s web site. When a transcript is ordered, the first party to order it pays the original transcript rate, and subsequent requesters pay a copy rate. When a court reporter or transcriber delivers the original transcript to the ordering party, the court reporter or transcriber is also required to file a certified electronic copy to the clerk of court.
The Judicial Conference has made it explicit that official court reporters may charge only copy fees for transcripts provided to parties when the original transcript was produced at the request of a judge.
The Judicial Conference approved a policy regarding the availability of transcripts of court proceedings filed with the clerk of court in electronic format. A transcript provided to a court by a court reporter or transcriber will be available at the office of the clerk of court for inspection only, for a period of 90 days (unless extended by the court) after it is delivered to the clerk. During the 90-day period:
- a copy of the transcript may be obtained from the court reporter or transcriber at the rate established by the Judicial Conference;
- the transcript will be available within the court for internal use; and
- an attorney who obtains the transcript from the court reporter or transcriber may obtain remote electronic access to the transcript through the court’s Case Management/ Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF) system for purposes of creating hyperlinks to the transcript in court filings and for other purposes.
During the 90-day period (which may be extended by the court), access to the transcript in CM/ECF is restricted to court staff, public terminal users, attorneys of record or parties who have purchased the transcript from the court reporter/transcriber, and other persons as directed by the court (e.g., appellate attorneys). Also, during this time, parties may redact personal identifiers. After the 90-day period has ended, the filed transcript will be available for inspection and copying in the clerk’s office and for download from the court’s CM/ECF system through the judiciary’s PACER system.
Contract Court Reporter Services
Under the Court Reporter Statute, the district courts may contract for court reporting services when necessary. Contract court reporters should be administered an oath for recording court proceedings.
Court Reporting Guidance
Guide to Judiciary Policy, Vol 6: Court Reporting
National Court Reporter Associations