Audio Records of Hearings; Transcripts

The Judicial Council proposes the following amendments to the Code of Judicial Administration as part of its responsibility under Section 78A-2-405 to govern the manner in which the courts maintain the verbatim record of hearings. The Supreme Court proposes the following amendments to the Rules of Civil and Appellate Procedure governing the preparation of transcripts.
CJA 04-201. Record of proceedings. Amend. Eliminate requirements and standards for recording a court hearing by an official court reporter. Rely exclusively on audio video records.
CJA 03-305. Official court transcribers. Renumber and amend. Eliminate provisions for assignment of transcript preparation. Renumber as 5-202.
CJA 03-304. Official court reporters. Renumber and amend. Eliminate provisions regulating the office of official court reporter. Retain transcript format. Renumber as 5-203.
CJA 03-304.01. Substitute certified shorthand reporters. Repeal. Eliminate provisions for a substitute shorthand reporter.
URAP 11. The record on appeal. Amend. Request preparation of an official transcript through the appellate court clerk rather than the trial court executive.
URAP 12. Transmission of the record. Amend. Shifts responsibilities from the official court reporter to a court transcriber.
URAP 54. Transcript of proceedings. Amend. Request preparation of an official transcript through the appellate court clerk rather than the trial court clerk.
URCP 052. Findings by the court; correction of the record. Amend. Establishes a procedure for correcting the record of a hearing.

Utah Courts

View more posts from this author
8 thoughts on “Audio Records of Hearings; Transcripts
  1. Carolyn Erickson

    2009-04-14 Regarding providing copies of transcripts from the court file. This would be an expense to the courts and increase the workload for clerks. The State would have to pay for the paper, binding, maintaining the copy machines plus paying the salaries of the clerks. I doubt the $.25 per page charged would cover the expense, especially when the wage of the clerk is considered plus benefits. This would require time away from the normal duties and responsibilities that the clerks must do.
    A simple phone call to the transcriber would produce the copy of the transcipt to the attorney and not interfer with the clerks doing their jobs.

  2. Carolyn Erickson

    Regarding providing transcript copies to attorneys.
    Clarification. I sent a previous comment and the statement was made “A simple phone call to the transciber…” That should read “A simple phone call to the transcriber BY THE ATTORNEY – not the clerk. So that saves the clerk the time.

  3. Susan Bird


  4. Jeff Eaton

    1. The rule MUST clarify that Licensed Court Reporters are responsible for the quality of transcription for each audio, and must create a detailed standard. If this is the true intent, why not call them Court Reporters instead of “transcribers” in the rule? These two terms are specific and far apart in the industry. This creates great confusion.
    NOTE: Currently, the state’s pool of “approved transcribers” include retired Court Reporters, reporters who certify files with content that they have not heard or read, and admittedly, most just type or have others type from the audio. BTW: All of these individuals agree that the audio transcripts are incomplete and provide a minimal, potentially incorrect record–even after they have done all they can with it.
    2. Court reporters do not want to be put in the position of making a judgment call regarding the audio-file’s adequacy–this is a legal question. A reporter has been trained to find that if anything is lost at all, the transcript is inadequate. The state must create a standard (perhaps a checklist) for court reporters to inform the State as to number of inaudibles, blanks, missing testimony parts, etc. — rather than reporters making a judgment call based on the content. The Court can make (and be responsible for) the determination as to comprehensiveness of the record.
    3. What quality level is acceptable by the State? State must define standards for one and all. Depending on the quality of the record, some may not wish to use their own license to certify such. Is the current quality achieved on the audio transcriptions adequate? How many inaudibles per 10 pages or per transcript? How many typographical/interpretation errors?
    NOTE: Some are already using a new certification page that certifies only best possible transcription of what was on the tape, (no true and accurate record of the proceedings.) Court reporters must do this to protect themselves.
    4. State of Utah must NOT set page rates that will be charged to attorneys. They may wish to create a guideline, but all sorts of special circumstances exist. (Attorneys currently go around the state to get a faster transcript.) Higher level cases are more difficult and much more time consuming than lower level cases.
    NOTE: The best reporters will not be available to work at the State’s rates. It takes 2 x 3 times longer to report stenographically from tape, as opposed to live–reducing the hourly rate for each job dramatically.
    It is unrewarding as they strain to hear and repeatedly rewind only to put out an extremely substandard work product.
    5. Important terminology clarification throughout the rule: It is “the” record not “a” record.
    6. RPF’s–what is on them–how do court reporters give input so we can achieve two-way protection.
    7. Address the Independent Court Reporter’s increased liability. When court reporters were employed by the state there was a layer of protection that is being removed, while also making the reporter’s process more difficult and less efficient. Reporters working from audio have no way of assuring that the transcript is a true record of a given proceeding and will have much greater exposure to liability as an independent contractor. (A Judge verified this “off the record” 4/2/09)
    8. The State should not try to force and manage the relationship between third parties. The state would cripple reporters by ruling out their ability to own their own work product, to charge their own rate, to get compensated for copies, and etc.–yet they require them to bill and collect from the attorneys and assume new levels of liability. This is a huge contradiction!
    NOTE: Court reporters will be twice damaged if they try to set up a business to accommodate the state’s needs and then the state makes it impossible for them to provide this service, by trying to enforce inconsistent restrictions such as those mentioned above so they can utilize typists instead.

  5. Laurie Shingle

    Rule 4-201. Record of Proceedings
    Line 10 reads, “To permit a certified court reporter to prepare an official transcript if permitted by the court.”
    Parties do not need permission from the court to request a certified court reporter prepare an official transcript. The request is either made through the court or directly to a transcriber – which is not necessarily a certified court reporter – by purchasing a CD and sending it directly to the transcriber. The transcript is prepared without permission of the court.
    On line 15 the word “verbatim” appears for the first time. Verbatim is wrongly used in the proposed rules, unless referring to a certified court reporter’s transcript. The definition of verbatim reads:
    Ver·ba·tim (vÃr b!Ætim), adv.
    1. in exactly the same words; word for word: to repeat something verbatim.
    2. corresponding word for word to the original source or text: a verbatim record of the proceedings.
    3. skilled at recording or noting down speeches, proceedings, etc., with word-for-word accuracy: a verbatim stenographer.
    In a recent transcript prepared by an official court transcriber in Utah, there were 100 inaudible portions. It is common to have countless numbers of inaudible or unintelligible portions of transcript produced from audio recordings. The audio recording itself may produce an exact recording of courtroom happenings including coughing, overtalking, misuse of microphones, et cetera, but a verbatim transcript cannot be produced from the recording.
    As an example of why transcripts prepared by transcribers are not verbatim, I offer the following. Commentary by a judge in the February 4 Toronto Globe and Mail spoke of an inaccurately transcribed transcript prepared by an off-site transcriber. The articles states, in part: The judge condemned a series of “patent inaccuracies,” which included “guardians of liberty” appearing as “gardens of liberty”; “remorseful” becoming “resourceful”; and a sentence “He said that he had no real knowledge” that was incorrectly transcribed as “He said that he had no Duect knowledge.”
    Line 20 changes “the verbatim record” to “a verbatim record” of court proceedings. The change makes it conceivable that the now-existing problem of having two transcripts of the same proceeding will increase. The District Court judges and appellate courts will have the additional task of deciding which of the transcripts is the correct one. They’ll conceivably need to refer to both transcripts as each attorney will be using a different version of the transcript in their memorandums and arguments.
    Line 58 speaks in terms of the AOC maintaining “digital files, backup files and archive files. This list seems to be repetitive, meaning there are no difference in these file types. Perhaps a definition section should be added to differentiate what the rule is referring to when it lists these three different files.
    The sentence beginning on line 70 says, “A transcript prepared and filed by a certified court reporter from the reporter’s notes is an official transcript.” How many official transcripts does the court want or need? The “an” should be changed to “the” to clear up problems and confusion arising when there are two official transcripts prepared.
    The sentence beginning on line 71 of that same paragraph speaks in terms of court reporters agreeing to comply with statutes, et cetera, and that the “records” filed by the court reporter are the property of the court. These rules may make sense when speaking of official court reporters employed by the state. The state has chosen to fire their court reporters and yet wants to mandate the same rules and regulations on the free market court reporting industry as they previously imposed on the officials. The state wants ownership of the court reporter’s work product so they (the state) can earn money off copies, yet the court reporter/transcriber is not an employee of the state and is responsible for everything from maintaining their CSR, paying all fees associated with continuing education, purchasing all supplies and equipment, maintaining a bond and/or liability insurance, making financial arrangements for payment with the ordering party, preparing the transcript, postage fees, filing the transcript in a timely fashion, and the list goes on. There is a huge inequity to the official court reporter/transcriber when the state expects them to comply with the same rules and regulations as officials were complying with, yet they don’t receive the salary the officials received. The transcriber carries much more of the responsibility for much less payment.
    Line 81 dictates that a request for an official transcript for other court proceedings (not for appeal) is governed by Rule of Appellate Procedure 12. This will be extremely confusing to court patrons because Rule 12 dictates time lines for ordering and preparing transcripts and notification requirements that are not present when the case is not on appeal.
    Rule 5-202. Official Court Transcribers
    Line 5 says “To establish the criteria and procedure for certification of official court transcribers.” Line 13 doesn’t refer to “certification,” but refers to “a person authorized.” Authorized is a much more appropriate term than certified when referring to official court transcribers. There is no certification in place for official court transcribers. When you use the term “certified” in relation to official court transcribers and at the same time talk about “certified court reporters” it is very confusing and incorrect. Line 57 refers to rescinding the “certification” of any official court transcriber. Since official court transcribers may also be “certified” court reporters, the way the proposed rule reads it could be interpreted that the certified court reporter could lose their licensure obtained through DOPL. It would more appropriately read the official court transcriber could lose their authorization to act as an official court transcriber.
    Line 28 again refers to “comply with statutes and rules regulating transcripts; and” so on. Please see comment to Rule 4-201 when addressing lines 70-73.
    In addition to the comments offered under Rule 4-201 for lines 70-73, the official court transcriber has additional responsibilities imposed as laid out in lines 39-44 which refers to the transcriber notifying the appellate court administrator of problems with recordings.
    As in Rule 4-201, the “statutes and rules” referred to should be listed in the proposed rule with specificity. It would be helpful if a definition was added for a certified court reporter versus an official court transcriber.
    Rule 5-203. Transcript format
    Line 6 says the transcript format should be followed as required by the Utah Code. To avoid any confusion, the Code section should be listed in the rule.
    Line 107 says, “The transcript shall consist of the title page, index pages, transcript pages and certificate pages.” (Certificate pages should not be plural) There has long been a misunderstanding in the way this rule is read, even among the official reporters who work for the State of Utah. There are multiple indexes that could be contained in a transcript. Is this rule referring to a chronological index of proceedings, is it referring to a keyword index, or some other index? This needs to be clarified, adding definitions for the type(s) of indexes required or offered.
    Rule 11. The record on appeal
    Line 57 could be made clearer and not require clerk follow-up on a transcript request if instead of saying “parts of the proceedings to be transcribed,” it said specific dates of proceedings to be transcribed.
    Rule 12. Transmission of the record.
    Because of omissions of definitions as previously discussed in these comments, it is unclear what line 30 and 31 is asking for.
    Finally, there is more than one area in these rule changes that say court reporters must comply with the statutes and rules applicable to transcripts. Some of the changes to these rules are directly contrary to 78A-2-408 that states, “The preparer shall deposit the original transcript with the clerk of the court and provide the person requesting the transcript with the certified copy. The cost of additional copies shall be as provided in Subsection 78A-2-301.”
    78A-2-408(3) states the preparation fee by an official court transcriber is the same and shall be payable to the person preparing the transcript. Since the rule changes are now suggesting additional copies be provided to the court in the form of digital files and backup files, pursuant to statute, the court (ordering party) should be responsible for payment directly to the transcriber, in addition to any copies sold by the court. Nowhere in the statute does it give ownership of the transcript to the court.

  6. Diane Flanagan

    I cannot possibly comment on all the problems associated with these rule changes because they are too numerous. However, some flaws in the proposed rules are:
    1) The confusion of what constitutes “the” verbatim record. There should only be one official transcript.
    2) Proposed Rule 4-201(1)(D) states, “A certified court reporter licensed in Utah may maintain a verbatim record of a court proceeding if an audio or video recording system is unavailable.” When an audio or video recording system is unavailable due to technical difficulties, AND THIS WILL HAPPEN because it already does, there won’t be a court reporter just sitting around waiting for a call from the courts to come to the rescue which will result in delays.
    3) Proposed Rule 5-202(5) discusses rescinding an official court transcriber’s certification for good cause. Court transcribers are NOT certified by any licensing body so they have no certification to be rescinded.
    4) Since the State is no longer incurring the expenses for transcripts or any related costs, they should not regulate prices or agreements between two outside parties. This should be a free market where buyers and sellers of services are allowed to transact freely without government intervention.

  7. Tracy Covington

    The proposed rule changes are littered with too many problems to list, however, many have been outlined by my coworkers below. Personally, I find the State of Utah’s handling of “the record” and its proposed rule changes to be completely hypocritical to its Mission Statement, which is as follows:
    Mission Statement
    The mission of the Utah Courts is to provide the people an open, fair, efficient, and independent system for the advancement of justice under the law.
    “The people” are the very people whose consitutional rights will soon be violated when there is no longer a verbatim record available. It has been proven time and time again that humans provide an accurate record of the proceedings over recordings, whatever the format. By taking the human element out of the courtroom you are no longer providing patrons and defendants a “fair” nor “efficient” record of their proceedings for their advancement of justice under the law.

  8. Carlton Way

    If the state decides to dictate price per page, it needs to consider raising the statutory price so that freelance firm price gouging ends. It is not fair to the public to give deep pockets an advantage in litigation. The transcribers that charge statutory prices hear all the time about non-statutory estimates by reporters to large firms. The price has not been raised on original or copies for more than a decade. It’s not fair to transcribers that follow the law to let this continue.
    Copy prices need to be raised, too. At .50 per page it’s almost not worth the time and materials.
    I would think most transcribers will turn over this labor-intensive, high material cost to the courts who are at the moment ill equipped to handle this labor-consuming task.