As a new attorney or paralegal, it is often difficult to pick up the vast amount of legal lingo that is thrown around. Even seasoned legal professionals can use a refresher on deposition terminology every now and then. This can be especially true in the time surrounding a deposition, when you are dealing with witnesses, expert witnesses, court reporters, legal videographers and opposing counsel.
Here are some terms and definitions that you will often encounter leading up to, during and after depositions:
Affidavit: A written statement of facts voluntarily made under oath administered by a notary public or another person authorized to do so by law.
Appearance Fee: A flat fee added to the per page fee to cover a reporter’s wait time during a deposition session.
Bust Fee: The fee paid to the contracted court reporting agency when a court reporter comes to a scheduled deposition but the deposition does not occur.
Calendar: In the legal industry, this is the schedule of upcoming appearances in court or legal proceedings, especially as it refers to a specific case. Attorneys keep this schedule of times and deadlines to keep the case on track.
Commission: Instructions issued by a court, justice or other tribunal directing a person or group to take specific actions, such as taking depositions of witnesses.
Condensed Transcript: A version of an original deposition transcript printed to show multiple pages of transcript on a single piece of paper.
Continuance: The adjourning or postponing of pending legal action to a later date, usually granted by a court in response to a motion made by a party to the legal action.
Court Reporter: A stenographer who witnesses and makes a verbatim record and transcription of legal proceedings during a trial, deposition or hearing.
CSR: A Certified Shorthand Reporter is a court reporter or stenographer who has been trained and certified by the state to take shorthand using a stenograph machine, primarily for legal proceedings.
Custodian of Records: The person who has physical custody and control of books, records, documents or physical evidence that concern a lawsuit.
Custodian of Records Deposition: When a custodian of records is deposed, he or she is subpoenaed to bring all of the records identified in the subpoena concerning the law suit. These depositions are typically short in duration but have multiple exhibits, which must be marked and indexed by the court reporter and then copied and bound.
Date of Loss (or DOL): An insurance term used to classify the date when damage, such as an accident, injury or other insured loss, occurred. The date of loss determines if the loss is covered by a policy or not.
Defendant: The person who is accused of wrongdoing or who is being sued in a court of law.
Deponent: A person who has been subpoenaed and testifies under oath during a deposition, trial or hearing. The deponent answers questions posed by an attorney, and his or her responses are recorded by the court reporter. In the event of a deposition, the deponent is typically given an opportunity to read the written record of his or her statement after the deposition transcript has been published, amend or correct it as needed, and sign his or her name to certify its truth.
Deposition (or Depo): The testimony, under oath, of a party or witness in a civil or criminal legal case taken before trial by an attorney. Depositions are taken during the “discovery” phase of a case and are typically held in an attorney’s office or a deposition center.
Exhibit: A document, object, photo, etc., used as evidence in a deposition, hearing or trial. During a deposition, the court reporter marks each exhibit with a number, then indexes and describes them in the record.
Ex Parte: This Latin phrase, meaning done by, for or on the application of one party alone, can be used in several ways. An ex parte legal proceeding is held for the benefit of only one party. Ex parte can also designate contact with a person represented by an attorney, outside the presence of the attorney.
Expert Witness: A witness who is a specialist in a subject and testimony relating to a scientific, technical, or professional matter pertaining to the case.
Interrogatories: A series of formal, written questions which must be answered under oath, usually in writing. In the case of a deposition where there are no attorneys present, the court reporter reads a list of written questions to the deponent and then records his or her answers.
Motion: A written or oral request made by an attorney in order to obtain a ruling or order directing that some act be done in favor of the attorney’s client.
Notes: The original marks made by a court reporter during depositions, trials or hearing. These notes can be made by hand or with a stenograph.
Notice: Information, knowledge given pertaining to certain facts or a particular state of affairs. Notice can also refer to the formal receipt of papers that provide specific information. When a lawyer schedules deposition for a witness, he gives notice to other counsel in the case of where and when the testimony will be taken.
Party: Any person involved in the prosecution or defense of any legal case.
PI: This abbreviation for “personal injury,” refers to a category of civil litigation pertaining to accidents such as car accidents, slip and falls, etc.
Plaintiff: The party who brings suit in a civil action. In criminal cases, it refers to the complainant or prosecution.
Realtime: Realtime is a type of court reporting service that provides persons who are hard-of hearing as well as attorneys participating in the proceeding the advantage of viewing transcripts electronically during, and immediately after, depositions without waiting for the court reporter’s edited version. This allows attorneys to review and search testimony for specific keywords or lines of questioning on the spot without interrupting the proceedings.
Steno: An abbreviation for “stenography.” Steno also refers to notes made by the stenographer.
Steno Machine: A stenographic writer that is used by court reporters to make the initial, rough draft transcript of a deposition, trial or hearing. Steno machines have three sets of keys plus a bar which are stroked by the court reporter in specific combinations that produce marks that represent sounds, words and phrases.
Stenographer: Also known as a court reporter, this is a person who is trained to type as people talk using a stenograph machine, or less often hand written notes. Stenographers work in the legal field but also close caption movies and TV shows.
Stenography: The system of shorthand using contractions and marks to take dictation. Each contraction or mark stands for a certain sound that phonetically “spells” a word. The purpose is to dictate at a fast speed to keep up with words as they are spoken.
Stipulation (or “stip”): A formal legal agreement made between opposing parties of a case prior to a pending hearing, deposition or trial. In depositions, stipulations are spoken into the record is often by one attorney and acknowledged and agreed to verbally on the record by an attorney for the opposing side.
Stroke: The action of typing on a stenograph machine. Keys are pressed in conjunction with each other with one or both hands, similar to playing the piano.
Subpoena: A legal order requiring a person to appear and give testimony. There is typically a penalty associated with noncompliance.
Taking Attorney: The attorney who sets up a deposition and orders deponent(s) to appear. The taking attorney may also notice and subpoena others, order the court reporter or videographer and ask most of the questions.
Testimony: Oral or written statements or declarations of a witness under oath that can be used as evidence in a trial. Testimony is often obtained by taking a deposition.
Transcript: The final written record of testimony given by a witness at a legal proceeding, like a deposition or trial. Transcripts are produced by court reporters from stenographic notes they produce during the proceeding.
Uncertified Notes: Also known as “rough transcript”. The first, rough draft of a court reporter’s notes taken at a deposition or trial, before the notes are translated into a final transcript. It is “uncertified” because the court reporter has not yet edited or proofread the notes and, therefore, cannot “certify” that the record is complete and accurate. When using realtime reporting, the live view of the transcript that attorneys see during the deposition is considered uncertified.
Writ: An order issued by a court requiring that something be done, cease being done or giving a explicit individual or group the authority to do a specific act.
Writer: Another term for a stenotype or steno machine.
Zone of danger: This is a term used in personal injury cases to refer to the physical area within a person is in actual physical danger from the negligent conduct of another person. This is partially used to determine whether an injured person can recover damages from a defendant in a civil personal injury suit.
For all of your court reporting needs, contact Diamond Reporting & Legal Video or schedule your deposition online. Diamond is a full-service court reporting and video solution agency whose team makes deposition planning a breeze. Diamond’s staff of more than 250 reporters, videographers and interpreters is available for depositions, mediations and arbitrations at their 16 free deposition centers in the New York, NY area or anywhere else nationwide. To learn more about Diamond’s services, visit the website or call 718-624-7200.