One of the most important parts of a court proceeding involves someone who almost never says a word: the court reporter. Court reporters are professional employees of the court system who preserve a verbatim record of court proceedings. The word “verbatim” means, “word for word, letter for letter, line for line, literally, exactly and precisely.” The court reporter’s verbatim record is called a transcript. You may wonder, “Why do we need a verbatim record of what was said?” First, recall that our court system has two basic levels: trial courts and appellate courts.
People often express concerns about plea bargains in criminal cases. They wonder, "Why should a criminal get a bargain? Doesn't anyone take crime seriously?" In fact, everyone in the criminal justice system takes it very seriously. So what is a plea bargain? It is an agreement made between the prosecutor and the defendant as to how a criminal case will be resolved. It would be more accurately described as a negotiated plea agreement. I sometimes compare it to the concept of interest on a loan.