Deposition Participants can Learn to Make a Better Record

With a little forethought and practice deposition participants can create a better record.

When you hire a court reporter to take a deposition and produce a verbatim transcript you want the transcript to be accurate, readable, and you want to be able to rely on it.  Many times attorneys are focused on the facts and forget they are also making a record. With that in mind, here are six ideas court reporters have for improving the quality of your next deposition transcript: 

  1. Don’t Interrupt 

For a more readable transcript let everyone complete their questions, answers, and objections without interruption.

Have you ever read a transcript that went something like this:

Q.     Did you have an opportunity to —
A.     Yes, I did.  I just can’t remember —
Q.    Where were you when —
A.    Chicago. I think it was June 15 —
MR. SMITH: Objection.  Let the witness finish his —
MR. JONES:  All right.
MR. SMITH:  — answers.

Transcribed as spoken, it makes you wonder what they’re talking about.

  1. Don’t Mumble 

While trying to understand what is being mumbled, court reporters can misinterpret what they hear.  Speaking clearly and enunciating helps to eliminate confusion, thereby producing a more accurate transcript.

  1. Slow Down 

Speaking too quickly can cause a slurring of words and mumbling, making it difficult for court reporters to keep up.  Slow down and enunciate your words for a cleaner, more accurate transcript.

  1. Watch the Cross Talk 

It’s important to let court reporters know when to go off the record and when to go back on, otherwise conversations meant to be off the record may wind up in the transcript.

  1. Pronunciate and Spell

Words and names pronounced or spelled differently have a chance of being spelled incorrectly in the transcript. If you think you may mispronounce a word or name that has a unique or different spelling, by all means spell it for the court reporter. 

  1. Take Breaks 

Court reporters are not machines and therefore need breaks throughout the day.  Plan to take a 10 minute break every hour or so, allowing the court reporter to get up, stretch their legs, and clear their heads.

Court reporters need your help, and the help and cooperation of all the deposition participants, to create a better transcript. With a little forethought and practice you can create a better record, one you can read more easily and rely on.

More Tips: Getting the Best from Real-time Court Reporters

Attorneys:  More Tips to Getting the Best from Real-time Court Reporters

 

Attorneys taking advantage of real-time court reporters benefit from having an instant translation of testimony at their disposal. How can attorneys get the most out of a real-time setup while making the best possible record?

As experienced court reporters providing real-time translations to attorneys, we’d like to suggest the following tips for getting the best from real-time court reporters:

 

1.  When bringing your own laptop to a deposition or other proceeding, it’s important to make prior arrangements with the court reporter or the court reporting agency to check for connectivity issues; on-site troubleshooting may be necessary and software or drivers may need to be loaded to your laptop, possibly causing a delay in the proceedings. 
2.  Court reporters use different brands of real-time software, so reach out to your court reporter and ask what real-time software they’ll be using. The real-time court reporters at Taylor Court Reporters KY use iCVNet software from Stenograph, which is free for attorneys to download from the iTunes store.
3.  For ease of use, plan on using an iPad or other device provided by your real-time court reporter. Typically, real-time court reporters will have their own devices set up and ready to go before you arrive.
4.  When giving your opening introduction and instructions to the witness, speak slowly and clearly. The court reporter will appreciate this as a chance to warm up and get familiar with speaking styles.
5.  Remember, court reporters write what they hear, so if you think your court reporter may not have heard a word, phrase or number correctly, ask the witness or attorney to repeat or clarify their question or response. Thick accents and fast talking can make it difficult for the court reporter to keep up, so slow down and be patient if the court reporter asks for a clarification.

6.  Be sure when using numbers to say the whole number and any adjectives that will help the court reporter better understand how to transcribe them. For example, you may say “six four sixteen,” real-time court reporters may not know if you mean a date, 6/4/16 or a dollar amount, $64.16 or an item, 6418. Whenever possible, use identifiers by saying date, dollar, and item.
7.  Real-time court reporters need frequent breaks to stretch, clear their head, and do a quick assessment to clean-up of their steno notes for better real-time translations. Taking a break every hour or so will go a long way in creating a better real-time record.

8.  Proper names may not come up spelled correctly in your instantaneous feed from real-time court reporters; likewise, homonyms may appear in your feed as a conflict (write/right, know/no). Court Reporters are trained to read for context, so choosing the correct word in a conflict situation is routine for court reporters. These conflicts are cleaned up in the transcript preparation phase, so your final certified transcript will be conflict-free.
9.  In addition to your on-site real-time feed, rough drafts of the day’s proceeding may be obtained from real-time court reporters. Be sure to make arrangements with your court reporter if you’d like a rough draft transcript. Be aware; however, there will be discrepancies in page and line numbers when comparing the rough-draft transcript and the final transcript. Rough-draft transcripts may contain untranslated steno, incorrect punctuation, incorrect spellings, an occasional reporter’s note and/or nonsensical word.

Be sure to read our first blog on Getting the Best from Real-time Court Reporters.

Successful Court Reporters Use Networking to Succeed

Court Reporters Should Network For Success

One of the most important building blocks to a successful career is networking, keeping up with old connections and building new ones.

You may be completely content in your current position, but in today’s ever-changing employment landscape networking should be one of your top priorities. Connections and opportunities are all around us, so let’s explore some different ideas we all can try. Read more “Successful Court Reporters Use Networking to Succeed”

Court Reporter Louisville & Lexington KY use Skype for Depositions

Skype for Your Remote Depositions

Attorneys looking for ways to reduce the cost of taking or attending remote depositions are turning to Skype and learning the strengths of this long-established video chat application.

What is Skype?

Blue and white Skype logo Skype is a free downloadable software application that enables users to make voice calls, video chat and share documents in a multiuser environment, making remote depositions suddenly become an affordable alternative to video conference and telephone conference depositions.

Taylor Court Reporting Kentucky, with court reporting offices in Louisville, Kentucky and Lexington, Kentucky has seen an increase in the number of requests for Skype depositions.  Our experience with Skype over the past few years leads us to believe that since Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype in 2011, attorneys are increasingly embracing Skype as a cost-effective way to take and attend remote depositions, thereby avoiding the high cost of travel and negating the need for video conferencing which can run into hundreds of dollars an hour.

A brief history of Skype

Skype was first released in August of 2003.  eBay acquired Skype from its developers in September 2005.  In 2009 eBay subsequently sold 65% of Skype to American private equity firm, Silver Lake and its partners.  Finally in May of 2011 industry-leading software giant Microsoft, who remains its current owner, bought Skype for $8.5 billion.

Why attorneys turn to Skype for remote depositions

1.  Price – Skype beats its competition hands down.  Skype-to-Skype video calls are free, while Skype-to-mobile and Skype-to-landline pay-as-you-go rates start at just a penny a minute.

2.  Travel costs – avoid the high cost of airline tickets, hotel, meals, and cab fares.

3.  Eliminates downtime – Deposition prep time is key to getting the most out of any deposition.  With Skype you can prepare for your deposition in the comfort of your own office right up to the very last minute.

4.  Interaction – With the ability to not only hear, but also see the witness, attorneys can gauge reaction and demeanor while questioning the witness.

5.  Document exchange – With the click of your mouse, you can securely exchange and share documents and photos.

6.  Security – All Skype-to-Skype voice, video, file transfers and instant messages are encrypted. This protects you from potential eavesdropping by malicious users.

Want to get started? 

If you think Skype may be right for your next remote deposition, here’s what you’ll need:

1.  Go to Skype.com and download the latest version for your device.

2.   Internet connection – broadband is best.

3.  Computer or mobile phone with built-in speaker and microphone (external headset with microphone will also work).

4.  A webcam or computer-enabled or device-enabled camera to make video calls

5.  Check System Requirements for Skype to make certain your system or device is compatible.

6.  Everyone on group video calls will need Skype 5.0 for Windows or Mac, or higher, plus    webcams.

7.   For best quality Skype recommends you use a high-speed broadband connection of 4Mbps down/512kbps up and a computer with a Core 2 Duo 1.8 GHz processor. As a minimum you’ll need   a high-speed broad connection of 512kbps down /128kbps up and a computer with a 1 GHz processor.

Here’s how to make a group video call (Skype for modern Windows)

From Skype.com:

With Skype you can enjoy group video calls with up to 10 people (including yourself), anywhere in the world.

Although mobile device users cannot initiate a group video call, they can join it.

To set up a group:

  1. Start Skype.

2.  Tap or click the Group icon at the top-left of the screen.

 Blue and white Skype icons

3.  Select the contacts you want to have in your group instant message.

4.  As you add contacts to the group chat, they’ll appear at the bottom of the screen. When you’ve added everyone you want, click add.

    Blue and white Skype navigation bar

5.  Click the video call button.  Blue and white Skype video camera icon

Having problems with the video on your group call? Your camera might not be working properly with Skype, but don’t worry; this guide can help you sort it out.

If your camera is working properly, check this guide to make sure your camera, microphone, and speakers are properly set up.

 

 

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Find Success in Going the Extra Mile

You’ve been told to “go the extra mile” for as long as you can remember, but did you know if you went that extra mile you’d likely be alone.  Few are willing, nor even want, to go the extra mile, thinking to themselves, “Why am I working so hard when no one else is making the effort?”   That’s why that extra mile can be such a desolate place, yet one that’s ripe with opportunities.
Get to your job early and stay late.  Be helpful, ask questions, and offer assistance.  Touch base with clients and peers.  Do your homework and practice your skills.
Every day ask yourself what others aren’t doing and do that one extra thing you can think of.
Go the extra mile consistently and you’ll find the success you’re looking for.
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Are Jefferson County’s Deposition Transcripts a Public Record?

With the days to comment on the Proposed Changes to Jefferson County’s Local Practice Rules quickly coming to a close, I wanted to go back and revisit the proposals and think them through again. I’d already emailed Eric Darnell, Circuit Court Administrator, with my thoughts, but while rereading the Proposed Changes I came away with a question that I think needs to be answered:

Are Jefferson County’s deposition transcripts a public record?

Please consider the following Proposed Changes to Jefferson County’s Local Practice Rules, and particularly what I’ve highlighted:

“CR 30.06 notwithstanding, only the cd/DVD/disc/videotape of a deposition shall be filed with the Clerk. The original hardcopy of the deposition shall be maintained by the party noticing the deposition and shall be made available to any party for inspection and/or copying. Excerpts of relevant portions of any deposition may be offered in support of and attached to any pleading with the Court.”

If you’ve ever looked at the online case docket sheet, you know that you cannot determine whose deposition has been noticed or taken. You cannot determine if a deposition has taken place or been transcribed. You cannot determine who the noticing attorney is, and you cannot determine before whom the deposition was taken (court reporter). Therefore, you cannot easily access what I thought was a public record, the original transcript of a deposition. 

The proposed rules state “The original hard copy of the deposition shall be maintained by the party noticing the deposition.” What if a deposition was taken and not transcribed? There is no way to tell if there is a transcript and if there is no transcript, it would be terribly difficult to determine who the court reporter was so you could call and ask, “Hey, was this deposition transcribed?” What if the transcript is lost or misplaced while being copied or reviewed by the parties? Does that mean there was nothing transcribed?

Are Jefferson County’s deposition transcripts a public record?

In addition to the proposals being problematic for the public, I question the practicality of the wording “shall be made available to any party for inspection and/or copying.”

What is the Court’s definition of “party”?

Is the original transcript a public record? If so, by this language, is the noticing attorney obligated to give or sell the public copies of the original transcript and/or monitor their review of the original transcript and exhibits? If the noticing attorney is obligated to do the above, what is a reasonable charge for preparing an exact copy of the original transcript, and/or what is a reasonable charge for monitoring the handling and review of the original transcript, and what is a reasonable time to produce the original transcript for review and/or copying?

What procedures are required to be followed to protect the integrity of the original transcript and exhibits?

As a court reporter for many years in Jefferson County, KY, I suggest the Court maintain the status quo until all issues concerning the proposed changes are resolved, that is, the noticing attorney maintaining the sealed original transcript until such time as the court deems it necessary to be opened, thereby maintaining its integrity and reducing the chance of mishap.