NCRA Jumps the Gun on Digital Court Recording Slam [UPDATED 02/19/13]

The NCRA, as well as a few of its members, were quick to call out digital court recording when the news broke about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ breaking his nearly 7-year silence. The court reporters were flabbergasted that when the courtroom erupted with laughter, the reporter was unable to adequately hear some of the rarest of comments in the US judicial system. The laughter resulted in an incomplete transcript. The NCRA posted an article titled, “Digital recording misses a rare moment as Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas speaks.

Clarence Thomas

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What the NCRA didn’t realize, was that the transcript was actually produced by a live stenographer of Alderson Reporting, an internationally recognized stenographic court reporting company, and not a product of digital court recording. Contrary to what the NCRA might have you believe, this stenographic court reporter was live and in person in accordance with the Supreme Court policy dated October 2010, that provides for a stenographer and digital court recording technology to be used to capture such proceedings.

Only when the digitally recorded audio was released, was the court reporter then able to go back and fill in the gaps that she was unable to hear during the proceeding.  It’s due to audio recording alone, that the transcript was able to be completed after the fact, yet the NCRA would have you believe the exact opposite for political purposes.

It’s still unclear whether or not Justice Thomas intended to be heard or not, which may explain what seems to be an edited version of the digital court recording on the Supreme Court Website, but one thing is clear: the transcript changed after the fact.  More words were added and not even a poor reading of stenographic notes could account for that. I sent a tweet to the NCRA asking them if they realized that it was actually a stenographic error, but I haven’t heard a response.

This is just a side note, but after reading the transcript, I couldn’t believe the number of errors…


The NCRA has finally realized their mistake and has removed the slanderous blog post.  Not a peep from the NCRA, though, as their “Latest News” section drops the article without an explanation.  Nearly a month of misinformation was spread throughout the legal community, and the NCRA has not apologized to the thousands of digital court reporters it blamed, or the countless others that it misinformed.

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