Court reporters are trained professionals who produce a verbatim, accurate record of the words spoken during a deposition. Stenographers can accomplish what no recording device can currently do; they turn speech into text regardless of tempo, accents, garbles or mumbles. In order to do this, court reporters spend years learning the skill of writing machine shorthand and even more years honing their ability to write faster and more accurately. Court reporters can type an amazing 300 plus words per minute while transcribing your legal proceeding.
The true value of great court reporters lies not only in their speed and accuracy, but also in other intangible services they deliver. Besides transcribing proceedings, court reporters also swear in witnesses and mark exhibits. Attorneys know they can rest assured court reporters will produce an accurate verbatim transcript each and every time while providing outstanding overall customer service.
For an even smoother experience with the court reporter, follow these tips for your next deposition:
Provide an Estimated Schedule: While working to schedule a courter reporter for your deposition, give the court reporting agency this important information. Estimating the length of the proceedings allows the agency to assign a court reporter whose availability matches your schedule. For example, if proceedings require a long day and few breaks are possible, they will assign a court reporter who can stay the entire day.
Give Background Information about the Deposition: During the scheduling stage, it is best practice to provide background information that will be discussed during the deposition. This information is used by the court reporting agency to assign a court reporter who has experience with the type of case at hand. Giving this information ahead of time also provides the court reporter opportunity to become familiar with terminology and the general nature of the case.
Share Information About the Case with the Court Reporter: It is likely you have been working on the case at hand for weeks, months or even years before the deposition, and are very familiar with the details involved. Your court reporter will not come to the deposition knowing the background information that is second nature to you. Your court reporter can do a better job if you share some pertinent information with him or her. Provide your court reporter with specific information about the case including names of companies, terminology and proper names of witnesses and experts.
Provide a Glossary of Terms to the Court Reporter: During their years of training, court reporters learn an entire vocabulary of specialized phrases and terminology in various areas of law and medicine. Upon earning stenographer certifications, many choose a niche field and learn even more about their chosen area. While the court reporting agency will attempt to match you with a court reporter experienced in your area of law, there are still terms that are foreign to non-experts. A glossary of terms is very helpful for spelling and helps the court reporter understand the subject matter being covered. For example, if the proceedings will include pharmaceutical material with drug names it would be helpful for you to provide the court reporter with a list of the drugs that will be mentioned during the deposition so that he or she will ensure they are spelled correctly.
Give the Court Reporter a List of Witnesses: As with the glossary of terms mentioned above, this enables the court reporter to have a reference for who will be deposed as well as the correct spelling of names that he or she will be transcribing.
Make Sure to Ask the Standard Deposition Questions: Asking questions (such as “what is your name and address?”) will not only enable you to get as much information as possible about and from witnesses, but will also help your court reporter with basic information. This also gives him or her a chance to ask for correct spelling early in the depo.
Ensure that Only One Person Speaks at a Time: This goes for both witnesses and attorneys alike. If everyone in the room speaks at once it is hard to hear what is being said and even more difficult to record them verbatim for the record. Prepare your witnesses to allow the questioner to finish the question before responding, and discipline yourself to refrain from speaking over witnesses or opposing counsel. Speaking one at a time during the deposition will ensure that the court reporter will be able to most accurately capture every word that is spoken.
Speak and Read Clearly, at a Moderate Pace: While court reporters have been clocked transcribing up to 360 words per minute, it is best to instruct witnesses to focus on speaking clearly and at a slower pace. Also follow this advice yourself. Doing so will help the court reporter clearly hear what is being said and capture every word with the highest accuracy. Pay special attention to slowing down when reading out loud, as it can become a habit to read at a faster pace than normal conversation.
Clearly Announce Off the Record Conversations: Before having any side conversations you do not want included in the record, remember to say, “Off the record.” Then wait until the court reporter stops typing to start the off record conversation. This will help prevent disputes regarding what is on or off the record because off the record conversations will not have been recorded in the first place.
Check In with the Court Reporter: Breaks are optimal times to do this. Doing so will give the court reporter a chance to ask you for anything he or she may need, such as spellings of difficult names or questions about the proceeding in general.
Empower the Court Reporter: Experienced court reporters are confident in their abilities and are not afraid to ask deponents to repeat answers or to more clearly enunciate responses. They may even request that attorneys themselves repeat questions or explain colloquies or abbreviations to clarify the record. Give the court reporter assigned your depo your prior approval to speak up when he or she needs to.
Need an experienced, professional court reporter for your next deposition? We’re here to help. As a top court reporting firm in New York and New Jersey, Diamond Reporting & Legal Video has taken thousands of depositions and has been dedicated to providing top notch court reporting services for depos and beyond for more than 35 years. We offer a variety of court reporting and legal video services including realtime reporting, mobile depos and video conference depositions, plus much more. Our court reporters are trained to play an essential role in depositions, becoming part of the solution to the particular legal issue being addressed. Schedule your next deposition today, or contact Diamond Reporting for more information.