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Fourth Judicial District Court Reporter Unit Receives National Award

Posted: Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Court Reporter Unit of Minnesota’s Fourth Judicial District (Hennepin County) received the 2012 Court Award from the American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers (AAERT) at its annual conference on June 23 in Philadelphia, PA.

Typically, the award is presented to a reporter or transcriber in recognition of outstanding achievements. This year, Margaret Ann Morgan, an AAERT-certified district court reporter from Rochester, MN, nominated the Fourth Judicial District Court Reporter Unit for its efforts and success incorporating video/digital reporting for courtrooms. 

“Many courts have responded to budget cuts by laying off dedicated employees, which often results in reduced services,” said Morgan. “Instead, Hennepin County District Court responded to the challenge by reorganizing, incorporating digital reporting, and gaining efficiencies. The success of the Court Reporter Unit is a result of the collaboration of judges, administrators, and court reporters. Because of the dedication and hard work by committed individuals, Hennepin County District Court reduced costs without jeopardizing the integrity of the court record.”   

The Court Reporter Unit has equipped 92 courtrooms in seven facilities with digital recording. It has also established a central video monitoring room.

“One of the benefits provided by the Court Reporter Unit and its central monitoring room is the ability to be extremely flexible regarding each day’s needs,” said Court Reporter Unit Coordinator Tamara Halonen. “Rather than having one official court reporter for every judge and referee, we have a pool of employees who will work either one-on-one with a judicial officer in a courtroom, or in the central monitoring room working with three or four courtrooms simultaneously.” 

The Court Reporter Unit is also expected to reduce the occurrence of repetitive stress syndrome for employees, as digital recording is less manually intensive than stenographic writing. 

The Court Reporter Unit has already improved service to internal and external clients by having a single contact point for inquiries and transcript requests.

“Our court reporters deserve this recognition for their willingness to be innovative, to use new court monitoring technology, and to work as a team to meet the demands of a high-volume urban court with less staff,” said Fourth Judicial District Chief Judge Peter Cahill. “As we face continuing budget pressures, the collaboration of the court reporters, judges, and administrators is a model for all of us.”