From the classic 1992 film A Few Good Men to the highly popular TV series How to Get Away with Murder, legal dramas have always captured the fascination of the public. We can’t wait to watch the intelligent debate between two power-driven lawyers, guess who is lying and telling the truth, and make sense of the affairs and bribery happening in the background. Will the innocent widow be able to escape justice after being framed with circumstantial evidence? Is the charming attorney clear of faults as he claims?
The plot twists and sudden revelations will have anyone on the edge of their seats and glued to their screens. However, the creative liberties taken by these films and TV shows can paint an inaccurate picture of what happens inside a courtroom. Fights, drama, and intrigue don’t always happen inside its four walls. Sometimes, proceedings can be as simple as negotiating mortgage refinancing reading terms or property lines. Whatever the case being discussed, the other significant players inside the courtroom should also be given credit. Without them, justice might not be served.
In legal dramas, court reporters are usually seen beside the judge typing away on stenographic machines or laptops. They would get a few seconds of the spotlight before the attention is focused back on the show’s main cast. However, in reality, court proceedings wouldn’t be able to start without them. Federal law requires accurate records of what goes in and out of the courtroom. Every word and phrase must be documented because the information can come in handy in the future or for other cases.
Not everyone can be a court reporter, either. You will need special training in the disciplines of law, technical terminologies, dynamics, and typing speed to qualify. Technology is also being used to improve the practice. In some cases, high-definition video captures are favored because it can capture the body language, tone, and mood of the speakers that are lost in written records.
When disagreements escalate into fights, bailiffs step in to keep the peace and order. They are usually police officers or marshals that stand at the ready to protect the well-being of the judge and jury, especially when tensions increase. Quiet days though would have them announce the entrance of the judge and call the witnesses to the stand as what’s portrayed in popular media. You can find them in the front near the judge or at the back of the room by the entrance.
Court clerks are the unsung heroes of the courtroom as they ensure the behind the scene preparations go without a hitch. They have wide-ranging responsibilities, from completing the list of people serving jury duty to keeping an eye on the oath-taking of witnesses. Judges also rely on court reporters for relevant documents needed during the trial, such as verdict forms, schedules, and other supporting documents. They are the most sociable of all courtroom players as they interact with multiple people, whether they’re junior prosecutors or the questioning public.
Laws won’t be able to keep everyone safe if the courtroom only has judges and lawyers as the main players. Other significant roles like the court reporters, bailiffs, and court clerks also contribute to the greater good and safety.