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Every litigant deserves a fair court proceeding, something that CourtScribes’ recording technology can ensure.

But some litigants lack the resources or the knowledge to know how to proceed with a legal case. Although criminal defendants have the right to a public defender, people in civil court proceedings who cannot afford a lawyer have to represent themselves.

Frederick recently opened a Self-Help Resource Center in the Frederick County Courthouse to help those people get legal advice. The Frederick walk-in center is the fifth self-help center of its kind in the state opened by the Maryland Judiciary and the Maryland Legal Aid Bureau but is unique because it is the only site where attorneys advise people on both circuit and district court civil cases, the Frederick News Post reported.

Two lawyers are on staff at the resource center full time, and the center has provided assistance to185 litigants since it opened just two months ago. The attorneys at the center offer advice to litigants but do not represent them in court. Litigants can get help preparing for hearings or mediation and learn about their rights, for instance.

The self-help center is open five days a week, and the courthouse also still has an attorney offering assistance with family law cases three days a week, a service it offered before the self-help center opened.

The Frederick walk-in center is the fifth such self-help center opened by the Maryland Judiciary and the Maryland Legal Aid Bureau in the state. The courthouse used to have an attorney offering assistance with family law cases in the law library. A family law attorney is still available from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and the self-help center is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The state judiciary started the self-help centers to provide advice to an increasing number of Maryland residents navigating legal proceedings without an attorney.

“In Maryland, we’ve had a steady increase in the number of individuals who appear in court without an attorney,” said Lonni Summers, manager of the Maryland Court Services Center. “In fact, last fiscal year, 80 percent of litigants in our domestic cases were unrepresented. And, likewise, the majority of civil district court litigants are also unrepresented.”

The center can connect people with services such as mediation or family-support services or with an attorney if self-representation is not in the litigant’s best interest in specific cases.

The Maryland Judiciary also offers remote access to lawyers through the Maryland Courts Self Help Center, which offers the same services as the walk-in center but over the phone, and through live online chat and email.

CourtScribes is also in the business of ensuring that litigants have the best outcome possible through accurate reporting of what goes on at a trial. CourtScribes uses the most sophisticated digital technology to provide the highest-quality transcripts of court proceedings.

The internet-age technology captures what is being said in court, then remote transcriptionists create the official record of court proceedings at a cost to attorneys that is up to 50 percent less than what they are used to paying for live court reporting.

Electronic recording equipment is overseen by an experienced reporter at all times. The reporter simultaneously takes notes that are time-linked to the corresponding recording, so people involved with the case can instantly find the point in the record where they want to re-listen.

Attorneys benefit not only from a less-expensive transcript but also from having a video and/or audio recording that provides them with a more accurate and verifiable record.

CourtScribes may also provide a live feed to an attorney’s office team, allowing them to monitor the proceedings and more effectively assist the attorneys in the courtroom in real time.

Video recording ensures a comprehensive record that allows attorneys to evaluate people’s behaviors, mannerisms, and speech patterns as well as review what was said.  Court Scribes uses computer-based digital systems with enhanced features that perform recording functions with convenience, flexibility, and economy.

In fact, when the CourtScribes technology went head-to-head against a court reporter trained as a stenographer and both transcripts were compared and verified against the actual recording of the proceeding, CourtScribes had significantly fewer errors on each page.

The human ear can only hear so much in a chaotic environment when many speakers in a courtroom talk over each other at the same time. When microphones are placed in front of each speaker, every word spoken can be isolated and heard with complete clarity.

Because the CourtScribes system assigns primary participants to separate, discrete sound channels, it’s easy to identify who’s who. A typical four-channel system individually records the judge, witness, plaintiff’s attorney and defendant’s attorney. When two or more parties talk at the same time, digital reporting captures each voice clearly on its own separate sound channel.

And the recording process captures all words exactly as they are spoken without worrying about a person being unable to understand accents or complex medical or technical terms. During the transcription process, the audio can be replayed as needed to verify any questions.

Also, during the trial, any portion of a recorded proceeding can be played back over audio speakers whenever the judge or counsel requires it.  Audio also can be replayed for jurors if they wish to review actual spoken testimony during deliberations.

Counsel can also obtain copies of the actual recording with digital annotations “hot-linked” to the audio so points of interest can be located quickly and efficiently. While the word per-minute-capacity of a stenographer is often impressive, sometimes it is not enough.