We have been examining what attorneys and their teams can do to receive a helpful rough draft, focusing on the steps you can take prior to the deposition. The importance of preparation cannot be overstated when it comes to court reporters providing a quality rough draft. So, you’ve sent them prep materials, provided spellings, tested your audio with the technician and logged in early. Now you are taking the deposition, and the court reporter is taking down the record, and you are confident you will receive a clean rough after the deposition concludes. And you will! Keep these tips in mind during the deposition to keep your rough draft on track.
Make your admonitions. Remind the witness that a deposition is not a conversation, and to avoid slipping into conversational speech. Remind them not to anticipate your question but to let you finish your question before they answer. Remind them to give verbal responses. Ask them to spell their name on the record. Remind them (and yourself) to speak up, speak clearly and slowly, for the benefit of the court reporter and an accurate record.
Make use of your technician in remote depositions. The technician, among other duties, shares and marks exhibits in remote depositions. Even if all the attorneys present have copies of the exhibits, have the tech display them for the reporter’s benefit, so the reporter is not double-tasking trying to pull the exhibits from the chat while simultaneously taking down an accurate record.
Check in with the court reporter on breaks. If you know you speak quickly or quietly, or that the matter at hand is packed with tongue-twisting terminology, during a break, ask the reporter if they’re ok. Court reporters have seen and heard it all, but they are human and may need you to slow down, or speak up, or provide them with the spelling of a name or term. Stephanie Battaglia, court reporter of 34 years, noted that if you think you’re going too fast, you probably are, so just double check with the reporter at the first and subsequent breaks.
Mind your manners and let each other speak in the deposition. There is no other way to say it. Try to not speak over each other. Lori Stokes, veteran court reporter, points out that it isn’t even a matter of not getting down what is said, but that people are not saying their complete thought, being talked over or interrupted. And it will be frustrating to read a rough and final filled with dashes because participants weren’t letting each other finish their sentences. Cassidy Western, court reporter of three years, reiterated the importance of parties finishing their sentences and suggests the taking attorney repeat the admonitions given at the start of the deposition as needed. Witnesses often need to be reminded to let attorneys finish the question, give verbal responses, and the like. This not only translates to a clean, complete rough, but fewer interruptions by the reporter seeking clarification when there is crosstalk.
If an interpreter was scheduled for the deposition, use their talent to get the best rough draft. Often a deponent may speak excellent English even if it isn’t their first language. However, even if they are fluently bilingual, words may come up that don’t directly translate, or they may have a beautiful accent which isn’t so easy to understand, especially in a remote setting. If you took the time to reserve a professional interpreter, let them help you, the deponent and the court reporter make a clear record.
The court reporter is hard at work even on breaks. Pleasantries and small talk are always nice, but your court reporter is more than likely working hard to get you a clean, usable rough draft as quickly as possible. This means utilizing precious minutes to hone the rough draft so they don’t scramble at the end of the deposition. They typically work through breaks in the deposition, checking spellings, cleaning up messy spots and the like.
No, the rough draft is not without imperfections. It is a rough draft, after all, not the certified final. However, conscientious court reporters pride themselves on providing a quality rough draft. They recognize the rough’s value, for which attorneys pay a premium, so they deliver the best possible rough whatever the circumstances. Optimize those circumstances with these tips and see for yourself what a diamond your uncertified rough draft can be at the hands of a sophisticated court reporter!
Planet Depos has been covering depositions for more than a decade, and our court reporters have centuries of experience combined. For more expert tips, check out the PD Blog Page. To schedule your next proceeding, contact Planet Depos at firstname.lastname@example.org, or schedule online.