U.S. Courts Design Guide
Court Reporter/Recorder Technology
Law, rule, or order of the court requires the production of an official record of a
court's proceedings. With the exception of video recording, all known court
reporting technologies--shorthand, machine stenography, computer-aided
transcription, single- and multi-track audio-recording, and voice-writer (also known
as stenomask)--are regularly used throughout the federal judiciary. Because it is
unlikely that all the judges in large metropolitan federal courthouses will agree to
employ a single reporting method, the installation of a centralized audio or video
recording facility in such a courthouse is not recommended.
The rapidly growing reliance on electronic recording of proceedings, and, in
particular, multi-track audio recording, video evidence presentation, and
computer-aided transcription, means that careful attention to electrical and audio
facilities in the courtroom is required. Proper design considers the placement and
type of microphones, the quality and location of the microphone connectors, audio
wiring, integration of the audio recording system with the public audio
amplification system, and the acoustical conditions of the courtroom. Microphones
and speakers are an integral part of courtroom furniture, and planning must
consider the space and personnel required for efficient operation. Some reporting
technologies require networks and the installation of monitors and projection
equipment in the courtroom.
Two current technological innovations in courtroom reporting are real-time
stenographic transcription and voice recognition transcription for the preparation of
electronic or printed transcripts. A third advance, instantaneous transcription of
federal trial proceedings, will remain in minuscule demand for many years. None of
these technologies requires substantial changes in courtroom design.
For information regarding courtroom technology, refer to Electronic
Courtroom/Chambers, An Interim Guide to Courtroom Technologies, published
by the AOUSC.
The federal judiciary is experimenting with video conferencing for various uses.
Conduits must be installed in all four corners of all courtrooms to accommodate
current and future installation of video cameras. A ceiling-mounted camera, located
over the front of the witness box, should be considered. The conduit should start at
a central video control room (or phone closet, if there is no video control room) and
terminate at the anticipated locations of the courtroom camera. Conduits for video
and audio connections between trial courtrooms, adjacent prisoner holding cells,
and the central cell area must also be provided. This allows court proceedings to