What to Know When Requesting a Transcript from the Court

Ordering a transcript from any court can be confusing. In fact, even people who order court transcripts regularly tend to have several questions on how to go about obtaining them. There are quite a few things that are good to know and, using the New York State Court as an example, following are some factors to keep in mind when making requests for transcripts of your recorded court proceedings.


Who Are You Really Ordering a Transcript From?

You can request transcripts either from the court itself or from a transcription company. When you go to the court to make your transcript request, you’ll be given a few options. Some hearings may have been attended by a stenographer or a court reporter and, in that case, the transcript is already in their possession, so you just need to ask for it. Otherwise, you’ll be supplied with a list of approved transcription companies to choose from and, from that list, you pick the one that you would like to provide this service. The court then sends the audio of your hearing or deposition to the company of your choice on your behalf.

This is a two-step process that must follow the same order every time. Effectively, you are making your request with the court and then placing an order with the transcription company.


Do You Understand Your Specific Needs?

How to Order a Legal Transcript

Click to enlarge image.

Before you request your transcript, you should ask yourself whether or not you’ll be using it in court. In other words, will you be submitting it into evidence or using it to build your case? If so, then the request you make with the court should be to have the audio transcribed, which initiates the process of selecting an approved transcription company. On the other hand, if you only wish to obtain a copy of the audio recording for your own listening purposes, then the request you make with the court should be to listen to the recorded proceedings.

The two requests are totally different; you cannot privately obtain a transcript of audio given to you by the court, because that transcript would be inadmissible in a case. Conversely, if you request a transcript and select a company to perform the transcription, you will be unable to listen to the audio yourself; you will only be able to review the transcript they produce for you. This rule prevents the recorded proceedings from being tampered with and is, therefore, in your favor. If you are requesting the transcript for other purposes, and do not intend to use it in court, then the rule does not apply. You can then request the audio and have it transcribed however, and by whomever, you’d like.

It is important that you understand what your needs are before making the request, because it will help you pick the best (and most cost-effective) path to obtaining the transcript that you want.


After Requesting Your Transcript from the Court, When Will You Receive It?

If you are using the transcript in court, then you should know when your next court date is, or at least when you will need to use it. General court personnel will not be familiar with your particular case or your needs, so it’s up to you to let them know if your request is time-sensitive. Without knowing your circumstances, and depending on the court’s workflow, it could be a couple of weeks before the recording reaches the transcription company. Therefore, when matters are time-sensitive, simply writing “RUSH” on the top of your request form will usually convey the urgency of your needs.

This is especially important since the process of delivering audio recordings differs for each court. Some provide them digitally, so if yours needs to be rushed, then a digital transfer is much more expedient. Other courts send CDs or audio cassettes by postage mail, meaning that even if you need your request expedited, this method of delivery is likely to add on a few extra days, so you’ll need to be well-informed ahead of time and prepared for this scenario.

Ultimately, upon receiving your audio file, a representative from the transcription agency will usually contact you to explain turnaround time and other relevant details.


Is There Anything Else the Transcription Company Should Know?

Once the transcription agency has received your request, make sure that you relay any additional relevant information. Of course, the basics will be on the form itself (e.g., case name, docket number, etc.), but other key details are often missing, such as the names of parties present or mentioned, law firm names, and technical or unique terminology spoken in your case. If you share this information with the company before the transcription process begins, then the misspelling of words, names, and phrases are likely to be greatly reduced.


In short, when preparing to have your court proceedings transcribed, it’s important that you understand the differences in requests, your options, your circumstances, and turnaround times. Bear in mind that, throughout this article, we’ve described the process for New York State Court transcript requests as an example. The process will be similar in most courts, but each state will have a few of its own unique steps to follow, so please check with your local court for more details.

What are your thoughts and/or experiences with this process? Feel free to email us or leave a comment below!


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35 Response Comments

  • MackNovember 10, 2016 at 5:49 PM

    Thanks for the info.

    • Ubiqus USANovember 14, 2016 at 3:46 PM

      You’re welcome and we’re glad you found it useful, Mack.

  • Tyler D.February 19, 2017 at 4:04 PM

    Now I have a much clearer idea about this process.

    • Ubiqus USAFebruary 21, 2017 at 7:00 PM

      Hi, Tyler – We’re glad that you found this information helpful. Let us know if you have other questions about the process of obtaining legal transcripts.

  • Olivia NelsonMarch 20, 2017 at 6:08 PM

    I agree that when you are looking for a transcription service you need to know when you will be getting your transcript. it would seem that you would want to find someone who is able to get the transcript to you as soon as possible. This would probably be really important when dealing with courtroom situations where time is of the essence.

    • Ubiqus USAMarch 21, 2017 at 11:51 AM

      Hi, Olivia – Yes, being fully aware of timing and working with a provider capable of producing the transcript quickly and accurately are very important. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this topic!

  • Melissa johnsonOctober 8, 2017 at 6:45 PM

    Do u have to give the court the money upfront.

    • Ubiqus USAOctober 9, 2017 at 12:07 PM

      Hi, Melissa – Any court fees charged to transcript requesters will vary from court to court, as will the policy on when they must be paid. However, when requesting a transcript of a court proceeding, you are typically paying the contracted transcription vendor – not the court – so, you will need to speak to your chosen transcription vendor to discuss payment terms regarding your request. Thank you for posting.

  • Cleveland MontgomeryOctober 27, 2017 at 11:31 PM

    I need to obtain some court transcripts Involving myself and a attorney regarding a withdrawal.

    • Ubiqus USAOctober 30, 2017 at 1:53 PM

      Hi, Cleveland – We’d be happy to advise. Please feel free to contact us with more details about your request by clicking here or you may email us at infousa@ubiqus.com. Thank you!

  • tazia satanaDecember 12, 2017 at 4:06 PM

    does a public defender of maricopa county have transcript of jury trial available between conviction and sentencing so i can have a private attorney look it over asap?

    • Ubiqus USADecember 13, 2017 at 5:08 PM

      Hi, Tazia – For trials that take place across multiple days, it is possible to request transcripts of days that have passed before the entire trial has ended. The details vary from court to court, but, generally, the court will not begin producing transcripts of hearings until they have been requested by someone. They will simply archive the audio recordings in preparation for a transcript request.

      So, the short answer is, yes, a public defender may have access to transcripts during a trial, but they will probably need to actively request production of those transcripts and address the costs and timing associated with that request.

  • jaceyJanuary 26, 2018 at 9:49 AM

    Will i be able to get transcripts from my order of protection hearing?

    • Ubiqus USAJanuary 26, 2018 at 6:12 PM

      Hi, Jacey – Yes, you should be able to, unless that court has a specific rule that stops you. You really need to check with the individual court to learn what your options are, but, barring that, the court should be able to inform you of your transcription options when you contact them. Good luck and thanks for reading!

  • GrecoMarch 22, 2018 at 3:46 PM

    What is the difference between a stenographer and a court reporter? You mention both, and I wanted to know if there was anything I should know regarding the two. Thanks for this information., Ever since dealing with this case, getting everything sorted and learning about the legal system has been confusing at the best of times. This really helped me out, thank you!

    • Ubiqus USAMarch 22, 2018 at 4:23 PM

      Hi, Greco – There is no difference between a court reporter and a stenographer. The two names are often used interchangeably for the same service: to attend a legal proceeding and produce the typed record in real time. This service may also be used in administrative hearings, mediations, and other types of meetings which do not take place in a courtroom; hence stenographer is the more general term. Thanks for reading and we’re glad that you found the article of value!

  • JenniferMarch 26, 2018 at 2:03 PM

    I’m having a difficult time finding a transcriptionist in – or around – Newport, Oregon. Do you have any suggestions? I ordered the Audio file, and paid for it, before knowing that it needed to be transcribed…and now i have to pay for it again.
    Don’t forget to ask for the audio file to be CERTIFIED, as well. (added fee in our county)

    • Ubiqus USAMarch 27, 2018 at 12:03 PM

      Hi, Jennifer – If you’re looking to produce a transcript that you can utilize for a hearing in your local court, then you do need to contact that court and find out their rules for transcription. Most likely, they have an approved roster of transcription companies to whom they will send case audio at your request and, then you will pay that company for the transcription based on their rates. And anyone on the court’s approved roster should be able to certify their work. Unfortunately, while you could take the audio recording that you paid for to any transcription company for transcription and certification, it may not be admissible in court, so you probably are going to have to pay a little more to get the transcript that you need, we’re sorry to say. Thanks for reading!

  • EbMarch 27, 2018 at 7:26 AM

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Ubiqus USAMarch 27, 2018 at 12:16 PM

      You’re welcome, Eb. Thanks for reading.

  • Angie MaurizioMarch 29, 2018 at 11:46 AM

    I am trying to find out how to get a digital copy of a trials transcript for my brother. An origanization wants to look at the transcript but they want a digital copy to review. Can anyone direct me where I need to go or a how this is done?

    • Ubiqus USAMarch 30, 2018 at 2:43 PM

      Hi, Angie – Your first step is to contact the court where the hearing took place. When you tell them that you are looking to acquire a transcript of your hearing, they will search to see if they have the hearing in either audio or transcribed form. If it has been previously transcribed, they should be able to make you a copy, though they may charge a fee, which varies from court to court. If they only have an audio recording of the hearing, then you will be directed to their list of approved vendors, and you will need to contact one of them in order to purchase transcription services. When contacting the court, make sure you have the case name, docket number, and hearing date available. Good luck and thanks for commenting!

  • Arthur DeMarcoApril 3, 2018 at 10:49 AM

    I like your reminder to provide as much info as you can to the transcription company. It never hurts to be transparent in anything you do. Providing clear, accurate information is a valuable skill to learn.

    • Ubiqus USAApril 26, 2018 at 12:47 PM

      Hi, Arthur – You’re absolutely right! Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts!

  • BrendonMay 9, 2018 at 12:42 PM

    Im trying to come across court transcripts /disclosure fron 3-4yrs ago how would i come across this in canada i live in ontario

    • Ubiqus USAMay 10, 2018 at 6:47 PM

      Hi, Brendon – Thanks for your question. All of our advice in this blog post has been in relation to U.S. courts and these rules can vary widely from country to country. However, Canada’s rules for ordering court transcripts turn out to be pretty similar to the rules here in the States. Canadian courts maintain a list of authorized court transcriptionists for each province, so you need to contact the relevant court and, if there are no access restrictions to the particular case you’re looking for, you’ll be directed to the list of authorized transcriptionists where you will arrange all the aspects of your request (e.g., turnaround time, payment method, and so on). Just like in the U.S., transaction details can differ from court to court, so your first step should be to locate the court where your hearing took place and contact them directly for more information. Good luck!

  • Ratonya DumasMay 17, 2018 at 4:44 PM

    what can I do if a court reporting agency is giving me excuses about why I haven’t gotten my transcript back it’s been over a month since I requested it. and they keep making excuses as to why I haven’t gotten it back.

    • Ubiqus USAJune 8, 2018 at 5:56 PM

      Hi Ratonya – We’re sorry to hear that you’ve been having trouble obtaining your transcript. It’s difficult to tell if the problem is with the court or with the transcription company without hearing their excuses firsthand. If the company says they haven’t even begun the transcript, because the court hasn’t released the audio to them yet, you can try contacting another court reporting agency and placing the same order to see if they’re able to start faster. If they can, then just call the first company and cancel. If they claim there’s a long holdup, then the problem is clearly with the court and you don’t have much choice but to cancel the second order and just be patient.

      Be careful, though. If you don’t time the above steps correctly, you might accidentally have to pay for two transcripts! So make sure the first company hasn’t started their transcript before you engage the services of the second company. Good luck!

  • Mary McDanielJune 25, 2018 at 1:17 PM

    I am dealing with suspicious behavior coming from a small town court regarding a case my son was involved in. I’m trying to help him. We want the audio AND a transcript of his plea agreement court date. I was there for it and it is essential a new attorney hears what the judge told my son’s public defender. Because the court has been lax when it’s come to a request for discovery (and every other question we’ve had), I would prefer not to work with them anymore if I can help it. Can we request both the audio and transcript from the public defender’s office instead?

    • Ubiqus USAJuly 10, 2018 at 4:47 PM

      Hi, Mary – Has the court refused your request for the materials or simply been slow to respond? If it’s the latter, that may not be suspicious (although we’re sure it’s frustrating). As you might guess, the paperwork required to run the records department of any court is considerable and it is very common for long delays in response to requests for public materials. There is likely no gain to be had for restating your request via the public defender, since the bottleneck is the court which possesses the audio. If your end goal is to review the proceedings of a previous hearing date in order to utilize them for an upcoming date, then you’ll need a transcript of that past date more than you personally need the audio. So we suggest that you go back to the court (or its website, if applicable), obtain the local list of approved transcription companies, and place your transcript order with one of them. That way, you’ll have both yourself and the transcription company calling on them to release the audio, and hopefully that will speed up the process in your favor. Good luck!

  • Tylee larbeemAugust 28, 2018 at 7:51 PM

    Can you request a transcript from a case you were not involved in?

    • Ubiqus USASeptember 4, 2018 at 12:10 PM

      Hi, Tylee – As long as the court record is not sealed, then you should be able to request the transcript through the steps outlined elsewhere on this page: contact the appropriate court to obtain the list of approved transcription companies, contact one (or more) for their transcription rates, and then place your order. Good luck!

  • CherylOctober 17, 2018 at 1:55 AM

    My husband had a partition meeting with his brother and his lawyer. Can I request a transcript of the meeting from the clerk of court, some things were said and now they are saying they wasn’t said and we would like a copy to see what was said for sure

    Thanks you

    • Ubiqus USAOctober 19, 2018 at 3:31 PM

      Hi, Cheryl – Yes, your husband’s partition action with his brother took place in a court, so it should have been recorded and made available for transcription and retrieval. As always, rules vary from court to court, so we recommend that you contact the court where the partition took place to inquire about it. Good luck!


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