Indiana’s Proposed Prohibition of Stenography and the Government’s Role in Court Reporting Economics

There is a proposed rule change for Indiana courts that seems to point to keeping stenographers out of the courtroom. Big thanks to Steno Strong and the stenographers that brought it to my attention. It’s pretty straightforward.

The Indiana government apparently seeks to purge stenography from court.

Much like Arizona, Indiana is asking for public comment. I’m feeling less dramatic than usual, so I gave it a shot.

Christopher Day (Stenonymous) responds to Indiana’s proposed purging of stenography from courts.

As I understand it, our institutions and many members of our community are already organizing a response. I would say get involved. Brainstorm on the best ways to phrase things or the right angle to go at this from. See if any attorney allies or anyone related to the legal field will pitch in a public comment. In my mind, it’s unquestionable that we have to give it to them straight. They’re handing an economic win to audio recording vendors. Once stenographic vendors are eliminated, price goes up. This is a concept so well understood that it’s part of the antitrust theory of predatory pricing. But there are probably dozens of arguments that I didn’t address that other stenographers can bring to the table more articulately.

This comes on the heels of the November 1, 2022 dissolution of the Indiana Court Reporters Association.

This is a convenient real-life example of how government impacts the demand for court reporters. They’re considering a rule change that would delete us from the courtrooms. They’re telegraphing a huge drop in court reporter demand. Is it any surprise that the market responds by training fewer court reporters? This is the deathblow I wrote about in 2018. How are we going to attract investors for stenographic education if a large purchaser of court reporting services, like the government, is saying “yeah, thanks for the memories?”

There were other comments far better than mine. Hopefully some of you will copy and paste yours below too.

We have to be assertive here. If not now, when? Again, public comments are open on the government site.

Addendum:

This article later came out about us being blindsided.

Court Reporting Antitrust Conspiracy Explained

*The initial version of this post was written in a vulgar, ranting, raving, and confusing manner due to a medical episode I was having. Sorry for how that was written. I have scrapped it. It held no creative or intellectual value that cannot be reproduced at a later date. Many of the people I named and cursed at are actually good people that I admire.

See the new version below:

This time, with love.

The “conspiracy” is simple. It is very similar to what Purdue Pharma did to healthcare. Lies and misdirection, as well as possible government corruption. I should note that in our case, because the government has not yet investigated to my knowledge, it is hard to tell if we’re seeing tacit parallelism or a fully-planned plot. That said, numbers do not lie, and there are problems with the numbers.

Veritext, US Legal, STTI, and others publish misleading and demonstrably false info. There is likely a baseline assumption that it won’t matter in 10 or 20 years because AI will “take over.”

Data starts coming in that AI sucks. We can also extrapolate from our own experiences and Testifying While Black that recording and transcribing will simply never be as good as us. Nobody notices because we’re not data scientists or actuaries. I notice because my love for court reporting leads me to embrace media, math, computer programming, science, etc.

Our associations, either by design or habit, just keep staying the course. Old tricks don’t work in a new and modern world. I start to change minds with a $10,000 budget and become suspicious of the association management industry. Dave Wenhold, whose intelligence and charisma I openly admire, becomes suspicious to me. This is about where I start to deteriorate. How do I use my media to bring people to associations that shut down new ideas without debate; as NCRA did for Amendment 5 this year? How do I support associations that give responses so boneheaded a six year old could do better? Even my beloved NYSCRA seems intent on crushing new ideas quietly and behind closed doors.

NYSCRA also seems oddly inert whenever I suggest anything that would strengthen the association.

Then, like with Purdue, there is potential government corruption. There is a concept called the revolving door, where someone on behalf of the company catches the ear of a government official and the government official just so happens to do what the company wants. Then the government official retires to a nice new job with the company. So far I’m told California Court Reporter Licensing Board officials have actually done this — which is incredibly suspicious. California may well be the state with the strictest regulations for court reporting. It refuses to regulate digital court reporting. Consumers should probably demand the complete dissolution of the board. It would be like heavily regulating snack foods but refusing to regulate pretzels.

Let’s not forget Arizona, where my public comment was completely ignored by Director Byers, even though I sent him an e-mail well before my personal issues began. Very convenient for AAERT and anyone who thinks courtrooms should be investing in recording equipment.

There are also issues here in New York. It is apparent that members of the public are being told no spots are open and the government is sitting on provisional applications.

I cannot say for sure what we are seeing. I do see a pattern of passive aggressiveness toward court reporters from corporations, associations, and government — a passive aggressiveness that peculiarly fades any time someone questions it.

The antitrust conspiracy may not be an actual conspiracy. But if I was designing a plot to exaggerate and exacerbate the stenographer shortage, it would look exactly like what we are experiencing today.