Author: Gabrielle Dean

Court Reporting Basics: What Are the Parts of a Deposition Transcript

Parts of Deposition Transcript and Court Reporting Process on LaptopWhen attorneys hire a court reporting service, like Elizabeth Gallo Court Reporting, LLC, to handle a discovery or evidence deposition, the court reporter has many duties aside from capturing the oral testimony and providing a transcript. All of these tasks are important and are generally helpful for the counsel involved. In this sense, your court reporter is an ally, although a scrupulously neutral ally. Your court reporter is also the ally of your opposing counsel and the court since accuracy is crucial for everyone’s litigation efforts.

What are the duties of court reporters?

Among the duties of your court reporter are:

1.  Ensuring the transcript is accurately captioned for the case — this is generally obtained from counsel who has Noticed the deposition

2.  Identifying and noting all who are present for the deposition — including the correct spelling of names and titles

3.  Giving the oath to the witness

4.  Identifying the speakers as the testimony proceeds

5.  Keeping track of exhibits — often providing exhibit numbering and labels and

6.  Providing a certification for the transcript

As these tasks and duties are undertaken in various ways, the results appear as part of the eventual deposition transcript. Many of these tasks and duties occur early in the proceedings and, thus, will appear toward the beginning of the transcript.

What are the parts of the deposition transcript?

Thus, generally, the first page of the transcript will contain the case caption, including the case number. Then, generally, below the caption will be the title of the transcript. Something like: “Discovery Deposition of WITNESS.” Importantly, the transcript will note the date of the deposition and will also keep track of time as the deposition progresses. If a break is taken, the court reporter will note that a break was taken at a certain time. The court reporter will then note that “testimony continued” at the noted time. This can be important since, in many State jurisdictions, deposition time is limited by Rule. If there is a dispute, the judge will want to see the transcript and will examine the time notations.

The next couple of pages in the transcript will identify who is present in the room, indicating counsel for each party, the witness, and any others who may be present. With counsel, generally, addresses and phone numbers are also provided in the transcript.

Then, just before the questions and answers begin, the court reporter will swear in the witness. This will also be stated in the transcript.

The main portion of a deposition transcript will contain the testimony – the questions and answers as provided orally by counsel and the witness. The transcript will be numbered by page and by line. Thus, if the transcript is cited to the court in a brief, the page and line numbers are provided for the ease of the judge.

The transcript will also identify who is speaking. This is important, of course, and generally, it is phrased as “by NAME” (identifying the lawyer asking questions) and “by the Witness.” But the court reporter also notes when opposing counsel makes a comment or an objection. Again, an accurate denotation is made, such as “by NAME” (identifying opposing counsel). As noted, the transcript also identifies any breaks in the proceeding and any other unusual occurrence.

In addition, where exhibits are marked for use in the testimony, a notation will appear in the transcript saying something like “Whereupon Exhibit 10 was marked…”

Towards the end of the transcript, there will be the court reporter’s Certification and also a place for the witness to sign the deposition (or a statement that “signature is waived”).

Also, at the end of the transcript will be “errata” pages (if allowed by local Rule). These are pages where the witness can state that words on certain pages/lines were erroneously transcribed and should have been something different. Errata pages are rare.

Further, where agreed, a deposition transcript will contain bound copies of the exhibits.

Finally, an index is usually provided that gives the page numbers for any exhibits that were marked. Sometimes this is provided at the beginning of the transcript. Full word indexes are often provided too.

Contact Elizabeth Gallo Court Reporting Today

For more information, call the experienced court reporters at Elizabeth Gallo Court Reporting. We follow the best practices in order to provide excellent litigation support to our customers. Contact us today to learn about our services and how we can help you.

Court Reporting Basics: What Does a Court Reporter DO?

What Does a Court Reporter Do: Hands on a stenographWhat is the purpose of court reporters?

In basic terminology, the main task of a court reporter is to capture every spoken word during a proceeding and to identify who spoke the words. In decades past, this was done by a court reporter using shorthand — a method of fast writing where symbols are substituted for words and sounds. For the last 100 years or so, the stenotype machine has been used — which is a machine-based method of fast writing where keys make marks representing words, partial words, and sounds. There are, of course, ongoing efforts and evolving technology that may change how court reporting is done. So far, these mostly involve computer and software innovations.

Generally, the result of court reporting is a transcript of the words spoken at the proceeding — mostly now delivered in e-format of some sort. However, for court proceedings and for trials, in particular, there is still a demand for the nearly immediate ability to “read back” portions of the transcript while the proceedings are ongoing. This is possible with truly excellent court reporters with great experience.

When are court reporters needed?

In general, court reporters are needed in any proceeding where a record is needed or desired. Mostly, courts do not provide a court reporter or any ability to provide a transcript. In this regard, the major exception is federal court proceedings. Federal courts supply transcriptions of hearing, whereas most State courts do not. Court reporting is also allowed and used in some arbitration proceedings.

The other main task of court reporters involves litigation discovery. In particular, assistance with oral discovery pursuant to State and federal rules with respect to discovery and evidence depositions. In depositions, the court reporter’s job is, again, to capture every spoken word and, at some point, provide a transcript of the questions and the answers. Even if the deposition is being video-recorded, mostly, a court reporter is still engaged in the process of steno-typing. This is because, during a deposition, there is still the potential need for a real-time “read back” of some small portion of the transcript.

Do Court Reporters mark exhibits?

In some jurisdictions, another valuable service provided by a court reporter is marking and keeping track of documentary exhibits used with the witness. Exhibits are marked in various ways, usually with stickers, with hand-written notations, or in some other manner. Often, the court reporter is asked to keep the originals for inclusion/binding with the deposition transcript. This can be very helpful for lawyers since even the most organized attorneys might occasionally lose track of the exhibit numbers. This is very true when the number of exhibits is high, and both sets of counsel are using exhibits. Note that in some trial settings where no court reporting is provided by the court, the court reporter can be asked to keep track of trial exhibits. However, often, the trial judge will ask the court’s clerk to handle that task.

Contact Elizabeth Gallo Court Reporting Today

 For more information, call the experienced court reporters at Elizabeth Gallo Court Reporting. We follow the best practices in order to provide excellent litigation support to our customers. Contact us today to learn about our services and how we can help you.

How Does a Court Reporter Certify a Transcript?

What is a certified transcript?

When a court reporter prepares a written transcript of a hearing or an oral deposition, the transcript is certified by the court reporter. A transcript certification is a written statement or certification, typically appended to the back of the transcript, wherein the court reporter attests that the transcript represents a true and accurate transcription of the oral statements made at the hearing or deposition.

What is the purpose of certification?

Among other things, the purpose of court reporting is to accurately and completely capture the words spoken at a hearing or deposition and then reduce those words to a transcript. A Certification of a transcript is a method by which the court reporter, often called a stenographer, states that they have honored the obligation to capture the words spoken and to reduce those words to a transcript. A transcript certification also contains other statements required by the laws of various States.

In terms of accuracy, a sample certification might read as follows:

“IT IS FURTHER CERTIFIED; that this testimony was reported by me in the stenotype reporting method; was prepared and transcribed by me or under my personal direction and supervision; and is a true, correct, and complete transcription to the best of my ability and understanding.”

In terms of other matters required by law, a couple of sample certification statements might read like these:

“IT IS FURTHER CERTIFIED that I have no actual knowledge of a prohibited employment or contractual relationship, director or indirect, between myself and/or my court reporting firm and any party to this litigation matter, or with any counsel for the parties herein.

IT IS FURTHER CERTIFIED that I am not of counsel, not related by family or otherwise to counsel or to the parties herein, nor am I otherwise interested in the outcome of this matter.”

Under the laws of most states, to be eligible to offer court reporting services in any given case or proceeding, the court reporters must be disinterested in the matter. That means having no contractual or monetary interest in the matter (other than receiving payment for court reporting and transcription services) nor a personal or family relationship with any of the parties or their lawyers. Thus, the purpose of the partial Certification written above is to certify the court reporter’s disinterestedness.

Another common component of a court reporter’s certification is a statement that the transcript has been prepared according to standards promulgated by the state and by Court Reporting Licensing Boards.

What does a transcript certify?

To summarize, then, a court reporting transcript certification will generally certify the following:

  • That the transcription is true, accurate, and complete;
  • The hearing was reported through stenographic, short-hand, or other methods;
  • That the transcription was transcribed by the court reporter or under their supervision;
  • That the transcript complies with state and private court reporting standards;
  • That the court reporter has no interest in the matter, financially, contractually, or by family relationship;
  • Other matters depending on state and local court reporting Rules.

 

Contact Elizabeth Gallo Court Reporting Today

For more information, call the experienced court reporters at Elizabeth Gallo Court Reporting. We follow the best practices in order to provide excellent litigation support to our customers. Contact us today to learn about our services and how we can help you.

Do I Need Court Reporting for a Georgia Arbitration?

Many lawyers find great value in having a court reporter transcribing arbitration proceedings.

Legal and business reasons for using a court reporter in an arbitration

 

The answer is a bit complicated. Many lawyers find great value in having a court reporter transcribing arbitration proceedings. This can be particularly valuable if the arbitration proceedings are spread out over non-consecutive days. During those intervals, the lawyers (and their clients) have time to review the transcripts of the previous hearing. This can help identify tactical course corrections that should be made, confusion that must be cleared up, matters that need additional follow-up, etc. An arbitration transcript is even valuable at the granular level if the transcript contains what you know to be an error. Maybe the court reporter misheard what was said. Maybe the Arbitrator or the Panel misheard it too! Something like that must be clarified on the next hearing day.

Arbitration transcripts can also be helpful in preparing witnesses that have not yet given testimony and can even be useful for experts to review. There may even be some possible impeachment value to having transcripts if a witness gives testimony on multiple days. Transcripts are also immensely helpful in preparing closing and summary statements at the end of testimony/evidence.

If the respective parties have been engaged in multiple cases (or expect to be), then arbitration transcripts will be useful in those other cases. Whether such transcripts are admissible in those other cases does not factor into their usefulness for preparing your case, knowing what to ask for in discovery, gleaning the opposing party’s litigation strategies, etc.

Finally, having arbitration transcripts is extremely useful if you plan any sort of appeal. Appeals from arbitration awards are rare and successful appeals are even rarer. But, having transcripts will certainly enhance any chance of winning an appeal.

Aside from these legal reasons to have arbitration transcripts, having transcripts may provide business and practical future value to the client. First, the parties may dispute what was decided at the arbitration. Transcripts will end that dispute. Second, parties can use the transcripts to show what was said about some issue of importance that is in dispute or under discussion.

Other considerations for using a court reporter in an arbitration

 

Having said all of the above, there are some other considerations. The first is whether you are allowed to have a court reporter at your arbitration. Some arbitration agreements have provisions banning court reporting as a method of maintaining confidentiality. This is also true for some arbitration services. Likewise, even if permitted, some individual arbitrators either bar court reporters entirely or express their displeasure that a party seeks to have the proceedings transcribed. Finally, court reporting is not without cost, and some clients want to keep costs down. As with many things, the question is: Do the costs outweigh the potential benefits? So, these are some of the other considerations that must be evaluated when deciding whether you need a court reporter at your next Georgia arbitration.

Contact Elizabeth Gallo Court Reporting Today


For more information, call the experienced court reporters at Elizabeth Gallo Court Reporting. We follow the best practices in order to provide excellent litigation support to our customers. Contact us today to learn about our services and how we can help you.