By Jedidiah McKeehan

While watching a courtroom scene on TV or in a movie, you may have noticed an individual sitting near the judge, staring with great intent at whichever character is talking and furiously pushing buttons on a little device on a stand in front of them.

Who is this person? What in the world are they doing?

This person is the court reporter, and they are transcribing (writing down), everything that is being said by the judge, the attorneys and the witnesses in the case. They are not typing every word out letter by letter as you would do on a keyboard, they are using a stenograph machine and typing what is said in, in short hand.

Court reporters exist because it can often be critical to determine what is specifically being said in a case. The reason they do this is so that there is a written record of what was said by witnesses, and most importantly, what the ruling of the judge is on the outcome of the case.

Not only do court reporters work in the courtroom, but they also make transcripts of depositions, which are sworn statements of individuals that occur before the trial occurs. When an individual has given a statement under oath prior to trial, attorneys can then use the court reporter’s transcript of that statement at trial to confirm whether or not a witness is saying the same thing that they said previously.

There are not always court reporters present for cases, because they can be expensive. However, in criminal court cases, the courts have a full-time court reporter in place.

Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties.  He works in many areas, including criminal, personal injury, landlord-tenant, probate, and estate planning. Visit for more information about this legal issue and other legal issues.