Dirty Dozen: Court Reporter
BY JUSTIN OWEN
If you have ever been in court or had a deposition taken, you may notice there’s always a person typing away on a weird looking keyboard. That’s the court reporter, ensuring an accurate transcript of the proceedings. But before you bust out your shorthand, you have to get a license to be a court reporter in Tennessee.
According to one cursory analysis, at least 19 states allow people to become court reporters without a license, showing that there is little to no risk in unlicensed reporting. Many of these states that don’t demand government permission to work as a court reporter are Tennessee’s neighbors, meaning that those who move here from those states have the extra burden of taking a test and paying for a license to do the exact same job they were doing elsewhere.
And even in Tennessee, those providing services to our criminal courts are exempt from obtaining a license. So in the instances where proper court reporting is most important—when someone’s constitutional rights and literally their freedom hang in the balance—we don’t require a license. This fact alone proves that the licensing regime for court reporters has nothing to do with public health or safety, which should be the trigger for any licensing law. It’s time to let court reporters type away, free from unnecessary government red tape.