Archive for the ‘Practice of Law–Some Thoughts’ Category

CART–Communications Access Real Time

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

I had an opportunity to experience CART when I practiced in the Western District of Michigan in Grand Rapids.

CART is real time captioning. In a courtroom, you already have a court reporter. Chances are that reporter also has equipment available to transcribe in real-time everything the reporter is putting down. If you are involved in a court hearing in any way, call the court reporter in this case to arrange for CART services. If you have no business with a court, You could still pick a public hearing and arrange for CART to try it out.

I had a important hearing scheduled in Grand Rapids. At first, I thought it was too late to arrange for any CART service because I called the day before the hearing, and I instead asked the court clerk about other assistance devices like headphones. I mentioned CART just to inquire. The clerk referred me to the court reporter. The court reporter was able to arrange CART service even though I called just the day before. The reporter brought in her own laptop, on which I was to view the captioning in real time. The reporter did not charge extra for the service, primarily because she was already employed to record the court proceedings. The CART program, apparently, does not take any extra effort from the reporter.

I really enjoyed this device. Normally, I find it extremely difficult to follow court proceedings because for some reason the acoustics is not friendly in the courtroom. However, in this proceeding, I was able to follow everything just like I was watching a movie in closed captioning. The delay was quite minimal, maybe the most was a second. Though, I am sure CART is only as good and fast as the reporter is.

CART is marvelous technology. I can imagine that more deaf and hard of hearing individuals showing up for jury duty for example. I can imagine deaf and hard of hearing parties to a suit no longer have to rely on their attorney for information on what had happened; they can see the proceedings occurring in real-time.

Why stop there? CART, I can imagine, could easily be programmed to translate English into any number of languages instantly. With a sizable hispanic population, it would be very useful (as well as accessible) for a Spanish-speaking person to use CART for no extra charge than to arrange for an expensive interpreter.

Court reporters, who have CART equipment, are available for any other function if you arrange for the service ahead of time. However, you would have to pay the court reporter’s fees because it would be outside the courtroom, where a court reporter is already employed. But, I can see perhaps doing group functions where each individual pays a small amount to contribute to the CART reporter’s fee and be able to enjoy certain events that were previously inaccessible. I, for one, would like to see more plays at Miller Auditorium, for example.

Here are some websites on CART.