Implement These Two Ideas to See Fewer Interruptions During Depositions And Better Transcripts

fewerdistractionsHave you ever been in a deposition, making headway with a line of questioning, when suddenly the witness interrupts? Or have you ever requested a rough ASCII from the court reporter but realized, when reviewing the file, that the content is a little too rough to be helpful?

Attorneys may oftentimes feel a disconnect from the witness or court reporter during a deposition; and this can result in confusion, wasted time, and a messy final transcript. Luckily, there are a few things you can start doing immediately to ensure better realtime reporting, a better rough ASCII, and a higher-quality final transcript.

Emphasize “Verbatim Etiquette”

As the taking attorney, emphasize “verbatim etiquette” when delivering the ground rules to the witness. At the deposition’s start is an appropriate time to cover the following with the witness:

  • Explain that the court reporter is not a machine and, like everyone in attendance, he/she needs to hear what everyone says to be able to make an accurate record
  • Specify that only one person should speak at a time and that interrupting one another is discouraged
  • Remind everyone in attendance to be aware of the speed at which they speak, as speaking too quickly can cause difficulties for the reporter
  • Additionally, be sure that the witness knows to speak loudly and clearly

Though these rules are intended to instruct the witness, they will also serve as a gentle reminder to both opposing counsel and anyone else in the room. Remember, these rules apply to the taking attorney as well! If you treat the rules of verbatim etiquette casually, the witness may see this as a lack of commitment on your part and also treat them casually. When you treat them seriously, the witness is more likely to do the same, resulting in a cleaner transcript.

Prepare the Court Reporter

As the attorney, you likely know the ins and outs of your case and are familiar with unique names, spellings, and the general context of the matter. You are better equipped to understand everything said during the deposition, especially when heavy accents or technical terminology are involved.  However, the court reporter is coming in blind without the benefit of this context, so there are several things you can do to level the playing field.

If possible, provide the following to the court reporter/agency as far in advance as possible:

  • Deposition notice
  • List of names
  • Word Index
  • Terms of art: Any terms/words that are specific to the case, especially if it’s technical or medical
  • Expert reports
  • Prior transcripts in the case

We believe that these methods will help to better establish a connection between attorney, witness, and court reporter. For more tips on creating a better record, or to schedule a reporter for an upcoming deposition, please give us a call today!

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