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    Post: What does Counsel want from a court reporter?

    Posted by W. Charley Sober - webmaster, on 1/03/07

    I have been in court reporter support and transcription
    for litigation support since the '80s, and I notice a fair
    amount of inconsistency from one reporting firm to
    another, especially interstate. I think everyone tries to
    anticipate counsels' needs but they end up with different
    perspectives. I was hoping I could get (at least via
    email) feedback from litigators on this subject. For
    example, in your practice:

    1 - Is absolute accuracy more important than turnaround
    time? I'm talking about minor grammatical issues but
    sometimes also spelling a name, etc., phonetically if it's
    difficult to find (like past workplaces that are defunct).

    2 - Is absolute consistency in style more important than
    turnaround time? Sometimes reporters switch-hit on ongoing
    discovery, so there can be variations in the "feel" of the
    transcripts. This is usually because the anchor reporter
    is becoming backlogged by volume and needs downtime for
    timely turnaround of transcripts.

    3 - When there's lots of numbers, like in accounting, is
    it better to keep it verbatim (one fifteen thirty-six vs.
    $115.36) or to do a conversion (one fifteen thirty-six =
    $115.36)? Litigation support software can have trouble
    with this kind of thing, but it usually works out in the
    digest or workup process. Which do you prefer, verbatim so
    it flows with video, etc., or conversion to digits so it's
    more streamlined in the litsup software? How do you like
    to have the numbers handled?

    4 - I almost hate to ask this, but some attorneys prefer
    that you clean up their questions in terms of false
    starts, etc. In Texas, my state, the format guidelines
    require that you transcribe stricken sentences posed
    during deposition. However, false starts and redundant
    starts to a question is a gray area. Do you prefer totally
    verbatim or moderate cleanup on the question being posed?

    5 - Is price the overriding factor in the court reporters
    you use? If so, do billing terms come in to play? This
    question, like a couple of others, may have a different
    answer depending on whether you're plaintiff or defense
    counsel, social ad litem for proceedings, etc.

    6 - Here's a Biggie: Do you hire your reporters or does
    your secretary or office manager do this? Alternatively,
    does your secretary or aide do the choosing from a list of
    approved vendors?

    7 - Contract situations are being scrutinized and even
    prohibited in some areas. Do you believe law firm-
    reporting firm contracts are beneficial, harmful or
    irrelevant? This can be an issue in terms of being
    unequally yoked, so to speak, in heavy discovery if
    opposing counsel has a financial advantage in terms of
    cost of litigation, especially out-of-pocket.

    8 - Does realtime produce any meaningful benefit to the
    deposition process if you're not requiring expedited or
    daily copy turnaround?

    9 - Is transcription of audio or video tape important in
    the discovery process, and should court reporters provide
    this service? Technically, court reporters are not
    certified for audio transcription, and many consider it a
    threat to their livelihood. However, other court reporters
    consider it necessary if you want to be full service
    because, otherwise, their client (you) will have to find
    yet another service provider or tie up a secretary to
    accomplish the task. If you think yes, should the
    reporters' associations make provision for explicit
    certification for transcription of recorded media?

    10 - Media exhibits with transcripts as demonstrative aids
    can be useful. If you have a recorded statement, when
    trial comes around, you might offer as Exhibit 1-A an
    audiocassette and Exhibit 1-B a transcript produced as a
    demonstrative aid for the jury or Court to assist in
    following along. Even though the media is the evidentiary
    item, this can rarely lead to duelling transcripts. Should
    there be a process for officializing one over the other,
    or should it be left to evidentiary hearings to extract
    what can be extracted from both transcripts via agreement?
    As a transcriptionist, I toss this out because I can
    envision being dragged into depo, hearing or trial to
    answer production questions and other minutae of the biz.
    It very nearly happened to me in federal proceedings. In a
    jury trial, the jury is usually told to trust their ears
    over the transcript if they perceive a discrepany.
    However, these days, it's hard to three people to agree on
    anything, let alone an entire seated jury.


    Thank you for your time. I'm hoping we can get the ball
    rolling toward better interfacing between reporters and
    counsel everywhere.

    - W. Charley Sober, for - Court Reporter Support Site

    Posts on this thread, including this one
  • What does Counsel want from a court reporter?, 1/03/07, by W. Charley Sober - webmaster,
  • Re: What does Counsel want from a court reporter?, 4/27/07, by Tyrone Tanous.

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