Career as a Hearing Reporter




Hearing reporters work with judges in courtroomsWhen a person hears the word “hearing,” his or her first thought is likely to be a judge sitting at the bench with a witness sitting to one side and being questioned by an attorney.  If the role of the court reporter even comes to mind, it is probably without the realization that there are many other types of hearings that court reporters provide services for on a daily basis.

The hearing reporters who work in a courtroom with one specific judge are referred to as “official court reporters.”  For the most part, freelance court reporters provide the services necessary for the various governmental agencies, boards, and other entities that conduct hearings as required by laws and regulations.

Courts of Law

It is fairly obvious that official court reporters provide services as hearing reporters.  As with any position, however, sometimes official reporters get sick or have personal business that requires them to miss work.  For these situations, a freelance court reporter may be hired on a per diem basis.  Though freelance reporters are not employed as official court reporters, they can help out temporarily by covering hearings in state or federal courts and fulfilling the duties of official reporters.  Many judges will administer an official oath to the freelance court reporter prior to the start of any proceedings.  

Because of the need for a hearing reporter to cover cases heard by the judge or judges, most state courts employ at least one official court reporter.  For cases heard in bankruptcy court, district courts, and municipal courts, it is not common for a hearing reporter to be present.  However, if an attorney believes it is important for a record to be made of his or her client’s hearing, a freelance court reporter will be hired to cover that proceeding.  Unlike an official court reporter who takes down all of the proceedings that happen in court that day, the freelance court reporter will arrive at the hearing location and possibly wait for several hours before the case he or she is there to cover comes up on the docket.

Administrative Agencies

Though they are not courts of law, many governmental agencies regularly conduct hearings that are administered by administrative law judges and follow very similar procedures as hearings held in open court.  There are two or more attorneys, an aggrieved party, witnesses, and a hearing reporter.  Witnesses are sworn in and testify in these types of hearings, just as if they were in a courtroom.  There are some agencies that do employ their own hearing reporters, but, generally, these types of hearings are covered by freelance court reporters.

Unlike the court system, some administrative hearings are private and closed to the public.  Hearings such as those conducted by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission can regard situations that are personal, such as discrimination matters.  State workers’ compensation commissions conduct hearings that involve a person’s private health issues.  State medical licensure boards conduct hearings that involve revoking a physician’s license.  State and county boards of health conduct hearings involving whether or not to revoke the licenses of certain restaurants.  Though the public may be entitled in some of these cases to know the outcome of the hearings, the actual proceedings themselves are considered confidential.  It is important for the hearing reporter covering these types of proceedings to have a strong work ethic and to understand the private nature of the information being discussed.

Hearing reporters can also work for the government who conduct many hearingsOther types of agencies conduct hearings in which the public is encouraged to attend and participate.  Hearing reporters are hired to cover public hearings and create transcripts which are used to help particular boards make decisions that will affect the public as a whole.  State departments over environmental quality hold public hearings to accept comments about such matters as whether a permit should be issued for a landfill to discharge its wastewater to a publicly-owned water treatment facility.  County boards of supervisors hold public hearings to determine issues such as whether certain roads should be maintained or closed.  The services provided by hearing reporters are vital for these types of agencies. 

Also Read "Deposition Reporters" to learn about another career in the field of court reporting.

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Written by , CCR on 9/21/2012 Suzanne has been a court reporter and worked in legal communities for over 18 years. 

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