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.

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.

 

 

court reporter Louisville KY & Lexington KY Rush icon

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.

KY Comp Board Clarifies One-Sided Page Requirements

Recently we received an 11 1/2 x 14 1/2 envelope addressed to Taylor Court Reporting Kentucky in our Louisville office. As I held the envelope, experience told me what was inside.  The envelope was just the right size and just the right weight to contain a returned transcript. As I began to unseal and open the envelope I braced myself for the added work any returned transcript brings.

The brown-clasped envelope had a return address of Kentucky Labor Cabinet, Department of Workers’ Claims, Frankfort, Kentucky.  Inside was indeed a transcript, an unbound, single-sided transcript with a few color exhibits, a few single-sided exhibits, and a very few two-sided exhibits; an official-looking letter sat atop the hundred-plus page transcript.  Adjusting my glasses I began reading the letter addressed “To Whom It May Concern.”

The letter read “Effective March 1, 2013, depositions, hearing transcripts, and other pleadings or documents with printing on both sides of the paper will no longer be accepted by the Department of Workers’ Claims.  If you wish the enclosed document to be filed with the Department of Workers’ Claims, you will need to resubmit as one-sided documents.

“If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at (502) 782-4578 and I will be happy to assist you.  Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.”

The letter was signed “Sincerely, Fran Davis, Director of Information & Research.”

“Goodness,” I thought, “the State of Kentucky spent $5.43 to return a hundred-plus page single-sided transcript with only three pages of double-sided original exhibits?  What sense does that make?”  Not following the logic here at all, I decided to call Frankfort and inquire into the reasoning behind returning the transcript.

I called the Kentucky Department of Workers’ Claims and spoke with Fran Davis and asked for a clarification of the single-sided page requirement. Fran was pleasant and polite as we spoke and she told me she specifically remembered our transcript, that she was the one that made the call to return the transcript.  Fran explained the hassle double-sided documents can cause at times, older copiers and frequent machine jams were mentioned.

I asked, “Does the Commissioner want court reporters to make physical changes to original exhibits, taking what was tendered and entered into the record as a two-sided document and change it to a single-sided, multi-page document?”

Fran thoughtfully heard me out as I shared my concerns and objections with her. She thanked me for calling and sharing my concerns.  She asked for some time to speak with the Commissioner and get some clarification on the single-sided document policy.  She said she’d get back with me so I gave her my contact information and hoped for the best.

Knowing how slowly the wheels of the government can turn, and knowing the 4th of July was the following day, I got busy copying and scanning the double-sided exhibits and converting them into single-sided, multi-page exhibits.  I thought it could be days, even weeks, before I heard from Fran again, but that was not to be the case.

After speaking with Fran, I believe she understood the gravity of manipulating original records.  I think after we hung up she immediately sought out the Commissioner and shared my concerns. The outcome of their discussions is exactly what I had hoped for.

I am, with Fran’s permission, sharing with you her email to me containing the Commissioner’s updated and clarified position on the filing of depositions,  hearing transcripts, and other pleadings or documents with printing on both sides of the paper:

“Hi Linda,

“I have clarified with the Commissioner and we will accept the transcripts along with the double sided exhibits when you receive them in that fashion.  It is only the transcripts that need to be single sided as we do not wish for you to alter the original exhibits.  Thank you for bringing this to my attention.  If you would share this information with the others that had questions relative to exhibits, that would be terrific.  Let me know if you have any other questions and I will be happy to assist or seek clarification.

“Have a terrific 4th!

“Fran Davis,

“Director of Information and Research

“KY Department of Workers’ Claims

“502-782-4578

Francesa.davis@ky.gov”

So, there you have it!  Transcripts are to be filed with printing on one side only; exhibits can be doubled sided if they were tendered and entered as such.

 

Kentucky Court Reporters Support Kentucky Justice Association at State Fair

The lazy days of summer are winding down as the kids start back to school. It’s August in Kentucky, the temperatures are still rising, and it’s Kentucky State Fair time.  Ah, the State Fair, with its novel gastronomic adventures, corn dogs, deep fried Girl Scout cookies and hamburgers served between two Krispy Kreme glazed doughnuts.  It’s also time for the Trial by Jury, put on each year by the Kentucky Justice Association with the help and support of the Kentucky Court Reporters Association.

Fair-goers get the chance to get out of the heat and take a seat on a jury, where they learn the value and importance of a citizen’s right to a trial by a jury of their peers and the responsibility every citizen shares to insure that right.  Once jurors are selected and seated, they listen to the case presented by attorneys.  They hear testimony, objections, and rulings by the Court.  They learn what it means to be on a jury.

As they listen to the proceedings and ponder the evidence, from time to time their eyes wander to the court reporter sitting behind the steno machine, fingers flying while intently listening to each word spoken.  Every once in a while they notice the reporter’s eyes glace at her computer screen and they wonder, “What’s she looking at, and whatever happened to the paper that comes out of that machine?”  After deliberations, their work done, the verdict is read.  The jurors feel the weight of their decision and are glad to talk to the attorneys a bit about their experience.  A few jurors inevitably wander over to the court reporter to see what exactly she does during the trial. 

Participants L to R: Attorney Jay Prather, Bailiff Nick Smith, Court Reporter Linda Taylor and Judge James Brantley, Attorney Andrew Downey (not pictured)

Now, with just a few people milling around, the court reporter explains the role she plays in depositions and trial.  She explains that as an impartial officer of the court, she is charged with taking down verbatim notes of the proceedings and transcribing them for interested parties. She explains the changes in technology over the years, how our writing style has gone from using paper and dictating machines to using computer technology that can produce an instant readable translation of the spoken work.  

Someone always asks for a demonstration and we are happy to show them how the steno machine works and how it can be connected to a computer for a realtime readout of the proceedings. We explain how that can benefit the deaf and hard-of-hearing, and how lawyers and judges use the instant translations to impeach witnesses or mark important parts of the testimony.

“How do court reporters know what keys to push if they aren’t marked?  How long does it take to become a court reporter?  How much money does a court reporter make?”  We answer all the questions we’re asked, but can’t help adding how much we love this profession of court reporting, the freedom of a deposition reporter’s schedule, the people we meet, and the stories we hear. 

Everyone walks away having learned something by participating in the Trial by Jury.  If you ever find yourself looking for something to do in August, head on over to the Kentucky State Fair and get involved with the Trial by Jury.  Meet a lawyer, talk to a court reporter, a judge or a bailiff.  It’s fun, air conditioned and, best of all, it’s free! 

Linda L. Taylor

www.TaylorCourtReporters.com

Photography by Jessie Taylor