Here in Indiana there is currently no requirement that court reporters be “licensed” or “certified.” What does that mean? When someone utilizes the services of a court reporter, either in a courtroom, in a deposition, or as a hard-of-hearing person, if they are unfamiliar with the person they have hired, they have no guarantee that they will be provided a quality product or service. In fact, in Indiana literally anyone can call themselves a court reporter. While some reporters voluntarily do hold certifications that demonstrate skill, currently, there is not even a basic competency required of court reporters in Indiana.
In our state we have very many excellent professional court reporters. Unfortunately, there are also individuals who are not. As an example, the Indiana Court Reporters Association (INCRA) has received inquiries from out-of-state attorneys as to how to file a complaint against a court reporter when it was felt that they had received shoddy or unethical services. Unfortunately, our answer to that question is, “There is no such recourse.”
Of course, we are familiar with the idea that doctors and lawyers must demonstrate minimum standards of competency to practice in Indiana, as do accountants, hairstylists, athletic trainers, well drillers, and massage therapists. Do you know that Indiana even licenses interior designers? However, any person may, with absolutely no training, call themselves a court reporter and thus potentially become the sole capturer and protector of the record in a case.
A court reporter performs a crucial role in the legal process. They are a disinterested, unbiased officer whose duty it is to capture and preserve the record and uphold strict standards when handling evidence, maintaining confidentiality, and creating a useable transcript. For that reason alone, it is highly recommended to only hire a licensed court reporter.
Certification does the following things:
By choosing a certified court reporter, you can be assured that he or she will demonstrate a basic proficiency and skill in capturing and preserving the record, preparing a transcript, and adhering to ethical court reporting practices. Indiana attorneys should consider this a deciding factor when choosing which court reporter to hire for their next deposition, hearing, arbitration, or court proceeding.