Putting Pen to Paper: The Fine Art of Shorthand Lives on in Texas Criminal Courtrooms

Think of the technological advances we have achieved as humans in the past twenty years. Cell phones have gone from a brick-sized oddity to an entire computer in your pocket, televisions have become crystal-clear and thin as a small book, and we can carry around days’ worth of music in a device the size of a credit card.

In the courtroom, recording devices have changedshorthand and improved, from our own equipment as court reporters to videoconferencing abilities and video depositions. Crime solving, record keeping, police work—it has all changed with the technological times, and most people would argue that it has vastly improved the way that everything is done. Everyone, that is, except Texas court reporter Frank Howell.

Keeping the Classics Alive With Precision and Skill

A recent profile on Frank Howell, a 79-year-old Texan who has been a court reporter for over fifty years, paints him as a hardworking veteran in the criminal court reporting field. The only difference between Frank and his peers, however, is that Frank records his trials with pen and paper in shorthand, a method long abandoned by most court reporters.

You may remember traces of shorthand from your early years in school, but is has long since left curriculums across the country. Frank is one of only a small handful of court reporters still licensed in this method, and his speed and accuracy rivals the best stenographers up to a whopping 300 words per minute. He crosschecks his record with an audio recording and types out his transcripts on—you guessed it—a typewriter.

Attorneys throughout Texas trust his transcripts wholeheartedly. The secret to his accuracy, despite differing methods separated by a few decades of technology, is not much different than our own court reporters’ standard—a moral obligation to provide the record that they would want if their lives were on the line with a trial.

While generations of technology and methodology separates a court reporter like Frank Howell from more modern outfits like Casamo & Associates, we are all bound by the same moral compass and pride in our work, qualities that will be a trademark in court reporting for years to come. For your court reporting needs in the Washington, D.C. area, trust the Casamo & Associates team.

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