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Derek Chauvin Trial: A Look At The Crucial Work Of The Court Reporter

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The Derek Chauvin trial resumes Monday, and someone in the courtroom who doesn't get any publicity has one of the more important jobs.

A court reporter is responsible for accurately transcribing every word that's said in open court. Christine Phipps, the president of the National Court Reporters Association, says the job comes with a lot of pressure.

"Somebody's life hinges on that testimony," Phipps said. "It's the court reporter's certified transcript that rules the day over anybody's memory of what might have been said. That is going to be what's argued on appeal."

Kelley Riley, a court reporter for Ramsey County, just got nationally certified as a Registered Professional Reporter. She says the typing isn't done letter by letter. Court reporters use combinations of keys to type by phonetic sounds. Shorthand gets proofread and fleshed out later.

Court Reporters
(credit: CBS)

"When you're in a trial for two weeks, it could probably get between 2,500 to 3,000 pages of transcript you need to proof," Riley said.

She is certified to transcribe at 225 words per minute and higher, which she says is similar to the average speed at which people talk. She feels she could probably hang on to someone's speech up to 250 words per minute.

"It's fun. It's a challenge, but it keeps me on my toes and keeps me busy," she said.

If something is missed or needs to be repeated, Riley says she will interrupt the proceedings, but tries to do that as delicately as possible. She also will confer with the judge if she feels someone in the courtroom should be instructed to slow down.

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