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5 Considerations when Choosing an Audio Transcription Provider (Updated)

5 Considerations when Choosing an Audio Transcription Provider (Updated)

Choosing an Audio Transcription Provider

By Olivia Ignacio

It seems straightforward. You have audio you need transcribed. There are companies providing audio transcription. You pick one. Right? Well, you could do it just like that, but really you want to pick the right audio transcription provider. To figure out which that is, you should ask yourself five questions before making your selection. Only the company with satisfactory answers to all five questions should receive your audio file to turn into a certified transcript.

Is the transcription being performed by a person or by a program that computer generates a transcript?

Sure, it sounds easy enough to simply load your audio file into a computer program that quickly generates a transcript, but the final product may not be what you expected. The human ear can pick up on words and nuances that software cannot, e.g., the difference between an affirmative “uh-huh” and a negative “uh-uh.” A human can more accurately ascribe names of speakers to their voices, as well as more accurately transcribe heavy accents, low-volume speakers, inarticulate speakers, and so on. The error rate for computer-generated transcripts is going to be higher as well, due to many different factors, including random noises on the audio, loud background noise, or software malfunctions.

If the transcription is being done by a person, is it being done by a court reporter or experienced legal transcriptionist?

There are many benefits to having a court reporter or experienced legal transcriptionist transcribe your audio. They are a truly neutral party. They are versed in legal jargon and court proceedings. They are familiar with transcript formatting/rules by jurisdiction. These qualities mean they produce a professional, easy to read, certified transcript.

In addition, having your transcription done by a court reporting agency ensures they are equipped to provide you with the transcript files you expect to see. This means you can request your usual files, including ASCII, PDF, E-tran (.PTX), LiveNote (.LEF), TextMap (.XMEF), CaseNotebook (.PTZ), Summation (.SBF), and trial software such as Sanction (.MDB) and Trial Director (.CMS).

Can the transcription provider work with the kind of audio file I have?

A quality transcription provider should be able to! Make sure they can handle audio types ranging from standard .MP3 and .WAV files to commonly used courtroom software such as CourtSmart and other proprietary surveillance or video software. Additionally, they should be able to access audio from various forms of media submitted, including discs and cassette tapes.

How quick a turnaround do I need?

Those in the transcription industry generally estimate that the audio length times three is the time it will take to effectively transcribe that audio. Thus, a 4-hour audio will take 12 hours to transcribe, roughly a workday and a half. This estimate accounts for time spent proofreading, re-listening to some spots, and researching terms and spellings. Make sure the vendor you choose has the resources to get your transcripts finished on time.

Will my transcript be accurate?

The court reporter or experienced legal transcriptionist will always try their best to make the transcript as accurate and complete as possible. Any words they cannot 100% hear or quite make out, they will mark in the transcript as “inaudible” or “indiscernible.” Any speakers they cannot identify will be referred to a “Male Speaker 1,” “Female Speaker 2,” etc. To aid the transcriptionist in providing an accurate transcript, consider sending a list of speaker names, as well as a list of special terms or acronyms likely to appear.

Planet Depos has been providing best-in-class court reporting services for over a decade, including transcription services. Their professional transcription team stands ready to assist with your audio transcription needs. If you have questions regarding transcription or want to request transcription, email audio@planetdepos.com. You can also make your request on our site.

Big Talent for Large Casework – The PD Advantage

Big Talent for Large Casework – The PD Advantage

Large cases involve many moving parts – tight deadlines, fast-paced and ever-evolving schedules, seas of exhibits, rosters of witnesses, etc., etc. Paralegals don’t wear capes, but every good attorney knows they have superhero-worthy organization, time management and delegating skills, to name a few. Every good paralegal knows partnering with the right court reporting agency makes managing the moving parts in an intricate case a much more streamlined process. So, what does that court reporting agency look like? You’re about to see.

Experience Matters

You do not want a novice on this case. If your large matter is Intellectual Property, you want names of IP cases the agency has covered so you know they’ve played in the league before. Look at agencies with rich case history, for example, ITC matters, IP, Big Pharma, PTAB, multidistrict and multiparty. You’re looking for evidence that this firm is well versed in large cases, and you want to see that firms go back to them again and again for their work. Check out what other law firms have to say regarding professionalism, flexibility, and expertise.

On-Point Pricing

Complex matters are expensive, and there is no way around that fact. But that doesn’t mean your client wants to go carte blanche on court reporting costs. You should be able to speak with a dedicated account executive about your and your client’s needs and expectations. They should then be able to provide you with pricing that is reasonable to you and your client because it is easy to understand.

Exhibit Management

Exhibits are a powerful component in a large case matter, but they can be a headache when they are many and voluminous! Your court reporting agency should be able to provide solutions to the exhibit storage and organization issue. Ideally you want to see a comprehensive tool for limitless secure storage of all case exhibits throughout the duration of the case. It should allow for easy and efficient collaboration, while maintaining tight security with AES 256-bit encryption. You should be able to maintain control of your exhibits in the repository, controlling who can upload, access, and view them, as well as who can send documents via secure links.

Realtime Reporting

Realtime court reporting is cool technology paired with awe-inducing skill. In a complex matter, with all those shifting schedules and rigid deadlines, realtime is a required service for the time it saves. Not all court reporters provide realtime, so make sure the agency you partner with has court reporters who are seasoned realtime professionals. You want highly accurate realtime translation in the deposition room and the flawless finals these realtime reporters can provide.

International Presence

Complex matters can see your team travel the world, so you need a team that knows all the rules and regulations wherever your case will take you. Look for an agency with international presence, i.e., experience, offices, and court reporters, videographers, and interpreters all over the globe. This is the firm with travel tips, as well as time and money-saving tips. They can guide you on everything from language to include in your court order to visa requirements to getting through security at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. In addition to invaluable advice on international depositions, this firm has enough teams everywhere to seriously slash travel costs. It is no coincidence that these are teams with a wealth of experience in large, complex matters.

Dedicated Case Management

Complex matters require efficient coordination between your reporting agency and your team. From the moment you partner with the reporting agency, a whole crew of case management experts should be lined up to take care of every detail. This team needs to be available literally around the clock, so no scheduling detail is overlooked, no standing order item (or change!) is missed, and the response time and live support is there when you need it. Your dedicated case manager works closely with your firm and your account executive to guarantee your expectations are exceeded at every opportunity.

Planet Depos has developed large casework expertise through years of experience, with best-in-class court reporting, cutting-edge technology, and an ability to adapt on the fly with the thrill-a-minute schedules complex litigation entails. With a global network of court reporting professionals, Planet Depos is poised to provide first-rate coverage, wherever your matter takes you, either in person, or via secure remote technology. For more information or to schedule, contact Planet Depos at scheduling@planetdepos.com, or schedule online.

7 Handy Tips for Scheduling a Deposition (Including Remote!)

7 Handy Tips for Scheduling a Deposition (Including Remote!)

By Micayla Charles & Carly Wilson

The process of scheduling a deposition can have several moving pieces, from counsel’s and the witness’s schedule to arranging for a court reporter, videographer, and/or interpreter. And then there’s finding an appropriate location, organizing exhibits, setting up special services, as well as planning for the necessary technology needed to make the deposition run smoothly. If you are using a court reporting firm to assist in coordinating the logistics of a deposition, below are some tips and key points to remember when scheduling.

Tip 1: Determine the proper venue

Determining the proper location for your deposition is vitally important. Will the deposition take place at a specific venue, or will it be held remote? For the past year the rise in remote depos has significantly increased and firms have found they can successfully complete depos this way. Some physical aspects of a deposition location, even if they are held remote, that one needs to consider include:

  • the size of the space,
  • seating availability,
  • breakout room accessibility, and
  • the proximity to parking or public transportation.

It is also important to consider the facility’s technology services, such as photocopiers, fax machines, scanners, and wireless or hardline internet connections. It would also be prudent to inquire about any additional cost for heating and A/C control for after-hours access. If the venue is remote, will you need a zoom technician, and if so do you have a specific tech you want? Here at PD our zoom technicians have become like celebrities—our clients love them!

Once the location is selected, you will need to include the specific information in the Notice, along with the requirement of court reporters, videographers, interpreters, and of course proper social distancing guidelines. All Planet Depos offices have reduced capacities and provide pre-checks, cleaning, disinfecting, and proper supplies as well as common area guidelines such as the use of face coverings. Additionally, we have our guide to A Safe Return to In-Person Litigation to provide all necessary information.

Tip 2: Transcript and video delivery

The transcript turnaround time varies amongst court reporting agencies. If you know that you’ll need the transcript on an expedited basis, inform the court reporter or the agency as soon as possible. Doing so allows the reporter and the Production team to adjust schedules accordingly to ensure that the transcript is delivered to you on time.

Of course, if you think you might need a rough draft of the transcript, make every attempt to let the court reporting agency know in advance so that a qualified court reporter may be assigned. If a videographer will be present at the depositions, it is important to be specific about any rush request for the video.

Digital video files are the easiest way to receive video depositions quickly. Many videographers also create DVDs during the deposition, and if you request in advance, they may be able to provide you with a DVD to take home with you.

Tip 3: Request realtime translation

If you would like to receive a realtime feed during the deposition, it is best to provide the request to the court reporting agency at the time of scheduling so that a qualified reporter may be assigned. The reporter will be prepared to transmit local realtime (within the deposition suite), as well as to stream the realtime to a remote location.

Tip 4: Attend depositions remotely

Traveling to depositions is not always convenient or deemed “safe” because of external forces such as a worldwide pandemic. But fortunately, technology easily permits for remote attendance through either traditional videoconferencing or mobile videoconferencing.

Traditional videoconferencing uses dedicated VC units that connect through a static IP address. Another option for remote attendance is via mobile videoconference. Mobile videoconferencing allows remote participants to connect via most any device, including laptops, iPads, or smartphones via Zoom or other video conferencing platforms. Your court reporting firm can set you up with a mobile videoconference meeting that is both secure and stable.

It is important to consider security needs for the remote deposition. At Planet Depos we have the enterprise version of Zoom with fantastic security, but also have versions that are both HIPAA-compliant and Zoom for Government that will provide you a secure remote deposition while following all necessary guidelines. Our blog post on Zoom security provides additional details on why Zoom meets our security needs.

If seeing the witness is not a priority, often the cheapest method to attend a deposition remotely is to have a conference call number provided, which will allow you to simply connect via phone.

Tip 5: Proper Equipment

Your court reporting firm should also be able to provide you with loaner pieces such as iPads, projection units and document cameras, if requested in advance.

And if you are scheduling a remote depo, there is some important “equipment” that you will want to take care of ahead of time:

  • Test your internet for a strong Wi-Fi connection or utilize a hardwired connection.
  • If you will be on video be sure there is good lighting, eliminate distracting backgrounds, and dress professionally.
  • Test your equipment to be sure your microphones, headphones, and audio quality are all working properly. You can schedule a test with one of our technicians.
  • Make sure your Zoom software is up to date.

Tip 6: Sending exhibits in advance

It’s always helpful to send exhibits in advance of the deposition. Sending exhibits digitally can be the most convenient and efficient way to ensure the exhibits make it to the deposition. If you want to pre-mark exhibits, you can always include that information for the court reporter. But if you need to send original exhibits through a mail service, be sure to always retain a tracking number and confirm the proper receiving address for the exhibits.

Remote Exhibits Tips & Tricks

Having a Zoom Tech on your remote depo makes the exhibit process seamless. You will upload the exhibits beforehand and our Zoom Tech will take it from there during the deposition to share the exhibits.

Tip 7: Changes in time, venue, or services

Deposition details change all the time. Court reporting firms are generally very flexible, but it is vital to communicate any changes in the deposition time, venue, or services as soon as you know them. This ensures that every deposition starts on time, and it also helps to avoid any unnecessary charges.

There are many service options available when taking a deposition. Knowing your options and communicating your deposition needs are important to ensure that your deposition runs smoothly and that all participants are on time and prepared.

Our experienced scheduling coordinators are available 24/7 to assist you with scheduling a deposition. Reach out to us at scheduling@planetdepos.com or call 888.433.3767.

CRCW 2021: Planet Depos Salutes Our Fearless Students

CRCW 2021: Planet Depos Salutes Our Fearless Students

Court Reporting & Captioning Week 2021 Logo

Oh, my, what a difference a year makes!  With the global pandemic changing life as we know it, just think how much we’ve learned this past year.  No one could have seen COVID coming, but once it hit, it was all hands on deck at Planet Depos to adapt and chart a course to a new way of doing business.  The PD team stepped up quickly and launched hundreds of Zoom webinars to assist clients with the transition to remote proceedings.  Anticipating the normal issues that come with videoconference depositions, though now the vast majority being done remotely, PD made the decision to hire and train a tech for every proceeding, allowing the court reporter to concentrate on what they do best – making the record.   And within weeks, clients and court reporters were back in the saddle as this revolution in court reporting took hold.

But there was one group that found themselves stranded during the pandemic; literally, stuck with few, if any, options.  This group was our nation’s court reporting students.  While academics continued in a virtual setting, what was always taken for granted in the past now came with a whole host of issues:  How and where would court reporting students fulfill their internship requirements?  Few firms were holding in-person proceedings, so typical shadowing opportunities were few to non-existent.  And those attorneys who had made the switch to remote proceedings were still adapting to Zoom and the attendant security issues, so requesting that a student sit in was out of the question.

So what were our students to do?  Remembering myself what it was like to be at high speeds, fulfilling my own internship hours was so very exciting because it signified that I was close to seeing my career finally come to fruition.  I was that much closer to being a court reporter.  And with the shortage of reporters already, how could we stand by and watch these up-and-coming students fall through the cracks because of a pandemic?

Just like we pivoted quickly to bring remote depositions to our clients, we moved just as quickly to offer a remote solution to our schools’ instructors and students who were unable to find internship opportunities.  And so we created a library of videotaped proceedings that would give students a realistic experience of shadowing a live proceeding.  We worked to fill the library with hours of videotaped depositions and courtroom hearings and motions just as their internship curriculum dictates.  The addition of the library made it possible for students to access real-world situations that otherwise would have been impossible.

Once students had exposure to our library, we took the extra step of inviting them to apply to Planet Institute for our one-on-one mentoring program.  We quickly transitioned from simply offering a virtual library of content to students moving on to further mentoring and preparation for their careers in court reporting.  Since the pandemic started, we have worked with 29 students, 23 of whom are currently enrolled at varying levels in Planet Institute, offering students the opportunity to prepare transcripts from the video library, and eventually live Zoom proceedings, for review and critique.  As the students progress in the program, learning  from the one-on-one mentoring, they ultimately reach graduation from Planet Institute and are ready to launch their careers.

As a follow-up to the program and to encourage other students to learn outside the classroom, we created The Modern Court Reporter, a podcast series for students and seasoned reporters alike.  We tackle all things court reporting with the mission of providing content and advice for a successful career in reporting.

If ever there were a time for students to enter the workforce with nimbleness and fearless adaptation to change, this is certainly it!  This round of new reporters will enter better equipped than most!

8 Tips to Save Time & Money on Depositions (Updated)

8 Tips to Save Time & Money on Depositions (Updated)

Who isn’t trying to be more economical these days? It’s 2020, and you have to tighten your belt with everything going on. Law firms are no different, trying to cut costs for frugal clients looking for any expenses they can cut. Large cases are necessarily more expensive, and their court reporting budgets are not small – realtime, rough drafts, streaming and video alone tally up big invoices. To help save time and money on your depositions, keep these 8 points in mind.

Build a Relationship

This is true in so many arenas. If you take your car to the same shop every time, you see the difference in treatment, the willingness to give you a slightly better discount, etc. Establishing a relationship with one court reporting agency has the same benefits. You are seen as a valued client, which comes in handy when you need a court reporter at the last minute, or need an invoice reduced or even waived altogether. The firm may even be willing to offer you complimentary use of their conference rooms in situations where a reporter isn’t needed.

Have a Secure Repository

You should be able to access all of your transcripts 24/7. A secure repository provides this benefit, so you can log in and download a transcript, exhibit, invoice, etc. This can save time when preparing for a case and finding yourself in need of a certain file – it is accessible to you in the time it takes you to log in and download. And again, it’s 2020, and everything is virtual!

Consider a Videoconference

This is a no-brainer for cost-savings. Eliminating expensive travel arrangements, and the time spent traveling, videoconferencing is an excellent option for a one-day deposition of a witness residing far away, even overseas. Remote depositions through videoconference also make a great option when in-person depositions just aren’t an option. Videoconferencing not only saves on cost, but can keep litigation moving forward when in-person proceedings can’t move forward.

Obtain Court Reporting Agency Emergency Contact Information

Be sure to get a phone number and email address for emergencies. This is invaluable if you need to reach someone after hours to inform of a last-minute change, or schedule, or handle some other urgent matter. Last-minute changes are part of the discovery process, and it is imperative to have a means of communicating them to your agency. The relationship mentioned in point 1 guarantees an immediate, helpful response to those emergency communications.

Encourage Opposing Counsel to Use Your Court Reporting Agency

When all parties use the same court reporting agency, cost savings are passed to everyone involved. Additionally, the case calendar, transcripts, exhibits, errata sheets and invoices are all housed in that same repository with 24/7 access. This also ensures consistency and continuity of reporters, transcripts and invoices, for both taking and defending attorneys.

Compare Rates Between Court Reporting Agencies

Obtain quotes from other court reporting agencies in the area to confirm the rates you are being quoted are competitive. Ask if the agency can cover in other states, or internationally, and verify those prices are competitive as well.

Get Quality Transcripts and Videos

Working with a reputable court reporting agency ensures there are no nasty surprises at trial. No need to worry about reading a transcript for the jury and stumbling over spelling and grammatical errors, or worse. No need to worry that your video clip has poor audio. Develop a relationship with the reporter who really wowed you, the videographer who demonstrated superior technology savvy, and request to work with them on all your depositions whenever possible. You cannot overstate the value of experienced, professional court reporters and videographers.

Utilize Electronic Delivery

Receiving final transcripts in electronic format only saves money, trees, storage costs and space (don’t forget the secure repository with round-the-clock access!). Ask about a Standing Order Form as well, to ensure the firm has your email distribution list for rough drafts and final transcripts, as well as your preferred file types.

Bonus: Ask About Free Conference Rooms

Finding an affordable and convenient location to take a deposition, whether locally or around the world, can be a challenge.  It takes time and valuable resources for the litigation team to locate an appropriate conference room. Your court reporting agency should have the ability to provide you with a location at no charge.

This can save you and your clients thousands of dollars every year. Whether you need a large conference room for a deposition in your hometown or a conference room for your deposition anywhere on the planet, your court reporting agency should be able to accommodate your request.

Planet Depos has been covering depositions all over the world for over a decade.  For more information, cost-savers, or to schedule, contact Planet Depos at 888.433.3767 or schedule your deposition online.

The Realtime Feed and the Remote Deposition

The Realtime Feed and the Remote Deposition

Realtime court reporting has been around for a while, and any attorney who has received a realtime feed knows its value already. If you have not yet requested realtime for your deposition, these remote days are an excellent time to experience it for yourself. A very beneficial tool for attorneys, realtime allows counsel to view the proceedings in real time. Realtime is the instant conversion of the reporter’s stenotype (shorthand) into plain English. As quickly as the reporter can enter stenotype strokes, the jargon is translated to English and transmitted to counsel (and their litigation teams, if requested). The parties receiving realtime need not even be present!

Sound amazing? Of course it does, because it is amazing. But there’s more to this crazy cool feature. Not only can you view the proceeding in real time, you can flag testimony or a line of questioning for follow-up, highlight any inconsistencies, all without interrupting the proceeding. No need to have the reporter read back the record when you have the record available on your screen (realtime can be streamed to any mobile device, as well). This is particularly attractive during a remote deposition with parties in time zones hours apart, when you don’t want to prolong the deposition with readbacks and the like.

Quality realtime is a tremendous skill requiring diligent practice by the court reporter. Not all reporters provide realtime, so if your proceeding will require realtime it is imperative that you specify this to the reporting agency in advance. Realtime reporters have not only honed their ability to speedily process information, but they have mastered the technology involved as well. A key tool for high-quality English translation is the court reporter’s personal “dictionary,” built over the course of their career. This is a steno-matching system composed of common words, names, and subject matter terminology. The more material contained in their dictionary, the better the realtime translation.

Attorneys can and are encouraged to send relevant case materials to assist the reporter in building the dictionary in advance of the proceeding to provide the highest quality realtime output of the testimony. Notices, patents, correspondence and spellings of technical terms and names specific to the case are immensely helpful to the conscientious realtime court reporter.

Ensure a Great Remote Deposition

With any remote deposition, participants should take measures to guarantee the best audio possible. For quality realtime in your remote proceeding, those steps become even more crucial. While we have already posted lots of information on the steps to ensure a smooth remote proceeding, now is an ideal opportunity to recap, so let’s dive in!

Ensure all parties can connect. Make sure all parties have access to reliable, high-speed internet. Each connecting party should be on a VPN to keep the proceeding secure. Verify your court reporting agency has space available should one party need to utilize a conference room with the required internet capabilities.

Test the connection! Each party should conduct a test call prior to the remote proceeding. This is the time to confirm connectivity and speed, as well as iron out any issues. Test your microphone and webcam for superior audio and video quality. This is also the prime time to ask the technician any questions to ensure you have the optimal setup for the actual proceeding.

Check out that setup. You want to be in a quiet, well-lit space. Make sure there is no backlight, which can blur your features. Dress in somber, darker colors to eliminate distraction. Plan to speak a bit slower and to enunciate carefully. These little details count.

Double check email addresses for all participants and get them to the technician so everyone can connect promptly with their secure link. While you’re double-checking things, double check time zones for each participant to guarantee everyone is connecting at the same time.

Remote depositions should run as smoothly as in-person depositions when properly planned. Realtime makes a remote deposition that much more efficient, so take the extra time to get the most out of this powerful benefit. Keep in mind, realtime reporters are always in high demand, so communicate early with your reporting agency about your realtime needs, and you’ll be all set to be wowed.

Planet Depos has been providing outstanding realtime reporting services for over a decade, as well as remote coverage for depositions, all over the world. For more information on realtime, remote depositions, or anything related, contact Planet Depos at 888.433.3767. You can even schedule online.

How To Prepare For A Remote Deposition

How To Prepare For A Remote Deposition

So, you’re going remote with your depositions, and you want to make sure they are the next best thing to in-person? With proper preparation, there’s no reason to worry that your remote deposition will be any less effective than the typical deposition with everyone in the same room. Here are some tips to set you up for remote deposition success.

Know the notary rules! Remote depositions are a common occurrence in these days when technology reigns king. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, many States updated notary rules and handbooks to match a more technology forward economy. States such as Virginia for example, allow e-notaries to administer oaths virtually, no matter the location of the witness. Other States such as Texas and Florida have approved emergency orders that allow for the remote administration of oaths.

To ensure a smooth deposition and make sure that the oath’s validity is not objected to later, it would behoove you to understand oath requirements on a state-by-state basis. Additionally, for States that do not allow the remote administration of oaths, we have seen attorneys make stipulations that protect the integrity of the oath that ensures everyone is on the same page.

Get techy! Now is the time to unleash the mind-boggling powers of technology. High-quality videoconference is non-negotiable, and it is readily available nowadays. Your court reporting agency can answer all your questions about the technology involved and set you up for a smooth connection to your witness, court reporter and opposing counsel.

Remote deposition software provides a unified and secure virtual conferencing service — replacing the need for multiple platforms for voice, chat, and video. Your agency’s technician will run a test prior to the deposition, with each connecting party, to confirm compatibility between each party’s equipment (laptop, iPad, etc.) and the videoconference software. That same expert technician can monitor the connection throughout the proceeding to ensure everyone attending the virtual deposition does so without interruption.

Know the available extras. Know which ones you want. Do you want realtime streaming? This can be of immense benefit in any deposition, but especially a virtual deposition! Are you interested in electronic exhibits? You will be able to pull up exhibits on your connecting device to share with all parties. Don’t underestimate the capabilities of a remote deposition! Check with the reporting agency to make sure you get the most from your online deposition.

Planet Depos has been connecting attorneys to remote depositions for over a decade, and all over the world.  To get more information on remote depos, or to schedule with the experts, contact scheduling@planetdepos.com or schedule online.

How Court Reporters and Their Teams Can Work Better Together

How Court Reporters and Their Teams Can Work Better Together

Teamwork makes the dream work

Are you feeling like there are not enough hours in the day to get transcript pages produced?  Is your inbox full of requests to move this transcript ahead of that one because someone just realized they have a hearing coming up?  Are you simply fatigued from being overworked because there’s more work than reporters?  Here are some thoughts on a strategy you may wish to consider to lessen the stress and keep your clients happy and impressed that you can always come through for them.

Stenograph and Advantage Software both offer a solution that is revolutionizing how busy reporters keep pace with the demands of transcript production.  For Stenograph the product is called RealTeam; for Advantange Software the product is called ConnectionMagic.   Both vendors have created a product that allows your scopist and/or proofreader immediate access to your live file, including your audio backup.  Have you considered how your transcripts could look, whether or not providing realtime, if your scopist is editing as you are writing a job?  Not only are you looking like a fabulously organized and professional reporter, but your transcripts are produced much more timely and efficiently.  Additionally, your scopist has the ability to ask you a question on the spot about a spelling or a technical term which, in turn, you may clarify with the witness or counsel at the next break.

Let’s go one step further:  What if your proofreader could be proofreading the same job right behind your scopist?  Can you even conceive of this possibility?  Well, it’s reality!

How might your life change if at the end of each day your job was already scoped and proofed and ready for you to finalize and turn in?  Suddenly, that backlog that has weighed so heavily on your mind for months is a thing of the past.  Now you are free to write every day knowing that your support folks are working in the shadows, and at the end of the day when the client asks how soon the transcript can be delivered, you’ll proudly say, “I can deliver it in a few hours.”   Not only have you made a client very happy, but you now can charge expedited rates.  A win for everyone!

If you would like to learn more about these products, please visit this link for information about RealTeam and this link for ConnectionMagic.  And watch your e-mail for an upcoming Planet Depos webinar showcasing realtime reporting teams who have mastered simultaneous transcript production.

The Importance of the Court Reporter’s Neutrality

The Importance of the Court Reporter’s Neutrality

Court reporters are the undisputed “keepers of the record.” Their impartiality is one of the three legs upon which the American justice system stands. Knowing what to do and when to do it in order to maintain that stature is critical to the stability of the legal system.

We compiled a few of the more common scenarios that our court reporters face in their everyday work. The actions they take either ensure or jeopardize their neutrality and integrity in conformance with NCRA’s Code of Professional Ethics (COPE).

Scenario 1: Non-Verbal Witness Responses

Often court reporters will come up against this one. Witnesses, while usually directed by their attorney otherwise, like to respond with head nods, gesturing, or other non-verbal responses.

It is not the court reporter’s role to serve as an interpreter as to the witness’s intended response.  Likewise, it is not their role to prompt the witness to give a verbal response.   In fact, it is the role of the lawyer(s) to prompt a verbal response from the witness.  If the lawyer does not prompt the witness, the reporter is obligated to indicate in the record “No verbal response.”

COPE Advisory Opinion 31 supports this behavior, indicating “When a reporter is intentionally placed in the position of being a factual witness at the direction of counsel for one party, that reporter may be viewed as an advocate for one party over the others. The reporter thus loses the impartiality mandated by Provision No. 1, creates a conflict of interest (Provision No. 2), and generates the appearance of impropriety (Provision No. 3).

Scenario 2: Going Off the Record

One party will often request that the court reporter go off the record, but the other party or parties do not agree.

As the keeper of the record and officer of the court, court reporters are not to go off the record until all parties agree. It is the job of the lawyers to come to an agreement, and you must keep the record open until that occurs.

This is supported by COPE Advisory Opinion 6, which states that a reporter must be “fair and impartial toward each participant in all aspects of reported proceedings and maintain the integrity of the reporting profession.

Scenario 3: When To Provide Deliverables

One side may reach out to the reporter to provide them with a copy of the transcript, exhibits, or audio for review prior to it being available to all.

In order to maintain impartiality, reporters must never provide any type of deliverable to one party or to a third party for review prior to making it available to all the parties.

Providing them to one party first would be in violation of COPE Provisions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 9, which speak to the importance of neutrality, to the security and confidentiality of all the materials in their possession, as well as to the fact that one must be vigilant and guard against “not only the fact, but the appearance of impropriety.”

Scenario 4: Giving Opinions on a Case

At the conclusion of the deposition, an attorney may ask the court reporter for his or her opinion of the witness.

Once again, to the point of neutrality, a court reporter must never offer personal opinions about any aspect of a case.

Providing a party with a personal opinion would be in violation of COPE Provisions 1, 2, 3, and 9, which speak to the importance of impartiality and integrity of the profession.

Court reporters not only preserve the integrity of the profession, they ensure that every litigant receives “Equal Justice Under Law.”

Divorce and Depositions: What You Need To Know

Divorce and Depositions: What You Need To Know

Guest Post by Russell Knight, Esq – Attorney with The Law Office of Russell D. Knight

The legal process of divorce is extremely formal.  The process is formal because a divorce is the unwinding of two lives once intimately involved and now actively opposed to each other (at worst) and mutually apathetic (at best).  Getting to the truth of the matter in a divorce, therefore, requires many tools amongst which depositions are key.

When a divorce is initiated, a petition for dissolution of marriage is filed and a series of purposely vague allegations are made, e.g., “the parties accumulated various marital assets throughout the course of their marriage.”  A counter-petition is usually filed by the other side with similarly loose terminology.  Initial documents are vague because facts are undetermined and/or neither side wants to commit to a set of facts before discovery has started.

Discovery and Divorces

Discovery is the process by which each party exchanges documents to determine what the facts are in the case.  Accurately identifying the facts in a case is necessary to adequately negotiate and prepare final divorce documents or to prepare evidence to present in a possible trial.

Most discovery is done via a notice to produce. A notice to produce is a laundry list of items that the other party may have in their possession and should share with the requesting party.  These are usually taxes, paystubs, bank statements, and other documents.

Beyond a notice to produce, a party is allowed to issue interrogatories.  Interrogatories are a series of written questions that must be answered.  Typically, interrogatories are limited to a set number of questions.

But what happens if one party to a divorce needs information and the other party is being evasive or dishonest?  You do not have to wait for a trial to question that party on the stand -you can request a deposition in advance. A deposition is a formal meeting between the parties and their attorneys with a court reporter present.  A party to the divorce case or a third party may be the subject of the deposition.

The Role of Depositions in Divorce

The attorney requesting the deposition will formally introduce him or herself for the record as a court reporter is writing everything down that’s said. The deposing attorney will then proceed to question the witness as to whatever subject matters need to be investigated.  In a divorce case, these questions will often involve tracing money that is no longer available, determining what expenses were reasonable, and getting to the bottom of textured parenting issues.

The adverse party’s attorney will be present at the deposition and will have the power to object to questions during the deposition.  There is no judge at the deposition to rule on the objections so these are merely put on the record.  Those objections can come into play should one of the lawyers try to submit the court reporter’s transcript into evidence at trial.  During the deposition, the objections merely keep the deposition focused along appropriate lines.

In a divorce deposition, one of the most important objections is “harassment.”  A deposition is a tool for uncovering undocumented information, not an opportunity for a party to aggravate their spouse one last time.  Either party may say something like, “let the record reflect that counsel is raising his voice” should things get heated.

The transcript of the deposition will then be available for both parties to use at trial.  Typically, the lawyers will ask the same questions to the deposed party at trial that were asked at the deposition.  If the party provides a different answer at trial than they did at the deposition, the attorney may then introduce the transcript to the court in order to impeach that party and, hopefully, extract the question they were looking for.

Depositions are inherently confrontational and are therefore typically a tool of last resort in a divorce.  To avoid a deposition, provide full disclosure during discovery and act in good faith to all requests for information.  If the opposing party cannot cooperate completely with discovery or when providing discovery omits or confuses matters, you will have no choice but to depose that person for the sake of obtaining essential information for negotiations or trial.

Russell Knight, Naples Divorce Attorney

About the Author: Russell D. Knight

Russell Knight is a Naples Florida Divorce Attorney who has been practicing family law for over 13 years in Naples, Florida and Chicago, Illinois. His office specializes in family law, divorce, child support, and child custody cases.

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