All persons who have anything to do before my Lords, the Queen's Justices of oyer and terminer and general gaol delivery for the jurisdiction of the Central Criminal Court draw near and give your attendance. God save the queen.
What I remember didn't have that "over and terminer" thing or "general gaol delivery" but maybe it did. It was always said quickly.
But anyway, that doesn't exist in Scotland. At least not in the civil courts. Also, maybe it's just an Old Bailey thing. The bow still exists, though.
So yeah, the judge (or "sheriff" in Scotland) comes out, case starts, and I write down everything that's said using my steno machine.
You know...witnesses are called. That's the meat of the trial. Witnesses. So it's mostly question and answer. So they'll say like:
Pursuer: I submit that you're a flaming homosexual.
A: You can submit whatever you want.
Q: Do you agree with that submission?
A: No. What's the relevance anyway? This isn't a crime.
Q: One of the advantages that I have is that I don't have to answer questions.
A: Fine. No, I'm not gay.
And it goes on like this. You just write down everything that's said. That's the job. Nothing else. Then you go home.
Court hours are usually 10.00 to 4.00. One hour lunch. Sometimes longer. Some courts are old fashioned and have a 75 minute lunch. There's also usually some breaks during the day. Sometimes substantial breaks. Cases will usually finish before 4.00. Sometimes well before 4.00. Very rarely, they'll go beyond 5.00.
What I do in Scotland is just civil cases. They got rid of the court reporters in the criminal courts several years ago. England did the same. And it's only some civil cases that have court reporters. I don't know the criteria but the solicitors have to pay for them or Legal Aid pays. I don't know the details.
Most stuff doesn't get ordered so in a sense you've wasted your time. But some stuff does get ordered so you then have to make a transcript. You've already written down just about everything that was said so it's just a matter of correcting typographical errors, adding punctuation, filling in missing bits, formatting shit to the style guide, and that sort of thing.
It's easy work but it's clearly on its last legs in the UK. I did a case recently with an American attorney as a witness and he was speaking of the local court reporters with great veneration so it made me realise that in the US it's still a viable career and I could probably make some good money doing it there.
« Back to index