Post: What does Counsel want from a court reporter?
Posted by W. Charley Sober - webmaster, scopists.com 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
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
- W. Charley Sober, for Scopists.com
Scopists.com - 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, scopists.com.
- Re: What does Counsel want from a court reporter?, 4/27/07, by Tyrone Tanous.