The Value of Realtime in the Courtroom


When it comes to the role technology plays in legal proceedings, the industry has seen drastic changes over the past several years.  Today, attorneys can do almost anything from a mobile device.  They can remotely attend litigation events, present exhibits electronically, and even question a witness using web-based video conferencing.  As a whole, technology has made a litigator’s job more convenient and less restricted. 

Inside the courtroom, technology plays just as big a role as it does in pre-trial proceedings, especially when it comes to the use of realtime technology.  Realtime technology takes the shorthand writing of a court reporter and converts it into text.  Once converted that text can instantly be delivered to various third party viewing devices.  

In some courtrooms, this type of technology is not a new concept.  For the last three decades or so, judges have been able to view a realtime transcript by directly connecting their computer, equipped with realtime viewing software, to the court reporter’s laptop through serial cables or Bluetooth connections.  What is new though, is the technology used to deliver realtime.  

What was once made available only to a judge through a complex system requiring a wired connection, has evolved into a wireless system, making realtime more easily available.  This new wireless method is extremely valuable in the courtroom and if used by all parties, can improve all court proceedings drastically.  Here is how: 

For the Judge: 

When a judge uses realtime it improves their concentration and accuracy by combining the power of sight and sound, ultimately allowing a testimony to be better evaluated.  Being able to listen to what is being said and being able to read along with those same words should eliminate errors and also makes it is less likely that important information will be passed over.  If a judge does miss something and needs to go back in the testimony, rather than slow the proceeding down by asking for a read back, they can just search the realtime transcript.  

With wireless realtime, a judge can mark important parts of a testimony when a trial is in session, and then when a break is called or the day is over they can go back into their chambers with their mobile device and review those sections.  This allows judges to prepare questions for further discussion, take notes on areas that need more clarification, and review the trial before any ruling is made.

For Attorneys/Counsel: 

Just as realtime improves the concentration and accuracy of a judge during a trial or hearing, it can do the same for attorneys as well.  Many courtroom proceedings can go on for weeks and sometimes it is hard to remember what happened one day to the next.  With realtime in the courtroom, counsel from both sides can follow along with testimony throughout the day, and mark relevant information to be reviewed later.  Once the session has ended for the day, they can then take that information and review it with their team.  This not only helps in formulating follow-up questions and rebuttals, but also allows counsel to focus on a particular part of the testimony. 

If internet is allowed in the courtroom, the realtime can be streamed to offsite members of their legal team, where they can instantly conduct further research on topics covered during testimony.  During breaks counsel can quickly meet with those team members, be brought up to speed with any new discoveries and make sure they are covering all grounds of defense/offence. 

Many times things get heated in the courtroom and the judge orders an immediate recess; realtime allows the proceeding to get back on track instantly and lets all parties quickly regain their train of thought.      

Technology has taken court proceedings to a new level and realtime technology has a place in every courtroom.  Any litigation professional who has had the opportunity to receive realtime on their laptop or mobile device during a trial will tell you it is a game-changer.  It not only speeds up the process by keeping judges and legal teams organized and on point, it also is an instrumental tool that enhances any courtroom strategy.