By John Minnis
Courtroom gets 'real': Circuit court judge makes use of realtime court reporting
Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Daniel P. Ryan’s courtroom at the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice has gone realtime—as in realtime reporting, that is.
“Most people don’t know what realtime is,” said Linda Cavanagh, Ryan’s court reporter of 13 years.
A certified realtime court reporter, Cavanagh was the only one out of 20 in her class to pass the certification. She boasts a 99.5 percent transcription (accuracy) rate.
Cavanagh was so enthused with the software—as was her judge, who teaches courtroom technology in judges’ school—that she purchased the CaseViewNet software for $500 out of her own pocket and incorporated it in Judge Ryan’s courtroom.
As a licensed user, Cavanagh can transmit encrypted realtime transcripts using a wireless router to anyone she authorizes. She can also install CaseViewNet client software on judges’ and attorneys’ laptops. The client software is also available free at www.caseviewnet.com.
Clients merely search for available wireless networks and log on to Cavanagh’s network using a password she provides.
“It’s a word processing program,” Ryan said, “so I can save it as a .docx file.”
The judge can also insert markers for later reference, highlight text and even include annotations.
“I used to make notes, such as ‘inconsistent with previous testimony,’” Ryan said. “Now I can mark it and make any annotations I want.”
The annotations even have “hover” capability, meaning the judge can read the annotations without clicking and opening another window. He can also search for key words and names.
“Pretty cool isn’t it?” Ryan enthuses.
For her part, Cavanagh can give judges and attorneys different levels of use. She gives the judge “save” privileges, meaning he can save any transcript he wishes. For attorneys, she can limit their use to viewing only. She also can time-limit the CaseViewNet document and access.
“If it is a one-day trial, I can set the expiration for the end of the day,” she said. “If it is a weeklong trial, I can expire it at the end of the week. I don’t want to give attorneys save rights because I wouldn’t get my fees.”
Ryan likes the fact that the transcript is instantly available. It eliminates “read backs” and “guessing.” “It’s an absolutely phenomenal tool,” he said.
Digging out a blank legal pad underneath some documents on his bench, Ryan said, “For the cost of $500, we’ve saved a ton of legal pads. I used to take a ton of notes, now I don’t take any. Between marks and annotations, I have everything.”
While realtime reporting is common in federal court, Ryan believes he is the first in Wayne County Circuit Court to use it.
Ryan’s court clerk, Denise Morris, also thinks the realtime reporting is pretty neat.
“Wish I had it!” she said.
Doubtless Ryan’s fellow Wayne County judges will be looking at it as well.
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