Hernandez Passes Initiative Supporting Accurate, Fair Court Reporting

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Business

State Rep. Elizabeth ‘Lisa’ Hernandez, D-Cicero, championed the right to accurate, professional court transcripts, passing critical legislation to protect the use of qualified shorthand reporters in the courtroom. As technology and other circumstances lead more courts to consider electronic transcripts as an alternative to trained transcriptionists, Hernandez’s House Bill 4426 ensures that the practice of maintaining in-person shorthand reporters in the courtroom continues. Shorthand reporters complete strict training and education requirements in order to serve as a stenographer, providing a level of certainty in their work which can be critical to the parties in court cases. Following pandemic-era restrictions and social distancing guidelines instituted in Illinois courtrooms, many courtrooms opted to use digital recording equipment in lieu of in-person stenographers. However, technology error, machine malfunctions and a lack of technical training means this digital recording practice was unreliably communicating court information. In many cases, faulty equipment or incorrectly transcribed transcripts threatened the validity of court records used to determine criminal and civil outcomes.  Hernandez’s bill ensures in-person transcription continues while state officials establish concrete language on guidelines, rules and procedures for the future of the shorthand reporter industry. House Bill 4426 passed the House on Monday, April 15.

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