Category Archive: Court Reporters

Staying Positive in Stressful Times

With the recent pandemic, insecurities over the economy and job security and other world events, it’s more important than ever to remain positive, both professionally and personally.

It’s easy to read those words but how do you incorporate daily positivity into stressful, sometimes negative environments?

Shift Your Energy

Roy T. Bennett says in The Light in the Heart “instead of worrying about what you cannot control, shift your energy to what you can create.”

Don’t immerse yourself in the worry and pessimism that is prevalent during taxing times. Put your energy elsewhere. Limit your time on social media and watching the news. Don’t react to others’ anger and frustration; instead, step away.

Choose to have a positive attitude. As Mr. Bennett says in The Light in the Heart, “attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose wisely.”

Stay in Touch

For many people, a natural reaction to a negative situation is to withdraw and isolate. While temporarily it may soothe it can lead to feelings of separation and detachment.

As Daniel H. Pink says in Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, “human beings have an innate inner drive to be . . . connected to one another. And when that drive is liberated, people achieve more and live richer lives.”

Stressful times can be the best times to reconnect with your friends, family and co-workers. Even if you can’t chat in person, a telephone call or Zoom conference can lift your spirits and remind you what’s important.

Be Helpful

The quickest way to let go of fear and change your mindset is to help others.

Have a favorite charity? Donate — and can be not just money but also supplies and your time — and share that charity’s information with friends.

Offer to help your neighbors with tasks like grocery shopping and yardwork.

Brighten up your house, as well as your neighbors’ views, with a colorful positive message in your windows. If you have kids, let them furnish the artwork or use sidewalk chalk to put the artwork on your driveway.

Foster or adopt an animal from a local rescue/shelter. You’re giving a needy animal a home and that pet will give you unconditional love and positive energy.

Have Compassion For Yourself

Doing for yourself is not selfish, it’s necessary. In times of stress it’s even more important to do the little things that make your heart sing. Practicing yoga, soaking in a hot bath, curling up with a good book or old movie, enjoying a pot of delicious tea — all these things can ground us and recharge us. While isolation is not good, some alone time is beneficial to practice mindfulness and uplift your spirits.

Remember Everything is Temporary

Optimism is a great thing to embrace, even if it’s uncomfortable at first.

As Deepak Chopra says an optimist is “someone who is very aware and mindful of all the setbacks and roadblocks and less-than-ideal things that happen in their life. The caveat is they are just aware that those things are temporary and they have the ability to overcome them.” It’s okay to accept that things may not be ideal at this moment but there are setbacks and roadblocks that can be overcome.

If Nothing Else, Just Laugh

Gretchen Rubin in The Happiness Project says, “laughter is more than just a pleasurable activity . . when people laugh together, they tend to talk and touch more and to make eye contact more frequently.”

Let Us Help You

To continue to remain positive, both professionally and personally, do not hesitate to contact  Elizabeth Gallo Court Reporting for your court reporter and deposition needs.

 

Medical Debt Collection Lawsuits Continue Amid COVID-19

It was a Sunday night and 39-year-old breast-cancer survivor Blanche Jordan was just sitting down to do a puzzle in her living room when she heard a knock on her door. Following social distancing guidelines because she is high-risk, she put a mask on before opening the door and was greeted by a process server who handed her papers and said “You’ve been served.” To Jordan’s dismay, the hospital that she had just recently paid off a debt weeks prior for a surgery not covered by her health insurance was suing her for $7,150 for unrelated medical services.

A lawsuit was the last thing she expected during the Coronavirus outbreak. Unfortunately, Jordan is not the only one facing a lawsuit during a global pandemic.

A Rising Trend

Wisconsin, like the rest of the nation and most of the world, has been significantly changed over the past few weeks due to the Coronavirus outbreak. On March 12, Wisconsin declared a public health emergency. Nonetheless, law firms representing health systems in Wisconsin continue to sue patients over past-due medical debt. According to a report published by Wisconsin Watch, of The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, hospitals in the state have filed at least 104 lawsuits in small claims courts since March 12th against patients who have medical debt. At least six other health systems have sued patients in the midst of COVID-19.

Jordan’s lawsuit is just one of at least 46 lawsuits filed by Froedtert Memorial Lutheran Hospital. While the hospital’s spokesman advised that it has suspended filing small claims lawsuits as of March 18 in response to the pandemic, court records showed at least 18 new lawsuits filed between then and March 31. All 18 of those lawsuits were subsequently dismissed.

Suspension of Suits, Maybe

While many of the health systems responded to news reports by stating legal actions on debt collections have been suspended, in rare cases the lawsuit will be pursued. The reason is to preserve the health system’s rights to pursue the debt, particularly if the debt is old and the statute of limitations on filing suit is about to expire. While this time is difficult, legal actions need to move forward — at least in order to preserve a party’s right under the law so that the action is not barred as a result of the expiration of a contractual or statute of limitations.

 

What Litigators Must Do During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Coronavirus pandemic that has hit the globe is causing all of us to adjust how we live, work, and play. Lawyers are no exception to this. In order to continue to live up to the calling that requires attorneys — particularly litigators — to be custodians of our society’s ideals, there are a few things that should be done during this world-wide pandemic.

You Must Resolve Your Cases

Attorneys are called on to resolve disputes, which can be difficult during normal times. The best thing for a litigator to do is to put on his or her “closer” hat. More than ever, clients are losing income. It does not matter if you represent a plaintiff or a defendant — the downturn in the
economy affects everyone, and it is not known when the economy will bounce back from this pandemic. Clients are also in shock and disoriented. Defendants may be wanting to solely focus on business operations and not deal with lawsuits. Plaintiffs may want their lawsuit resolved sooner rather than later because of their current circumstances. Attorneys must be aware of these issues, while still balancing zealous advocacy and not selling the client short. Getting opposing counsel to come to the table is critical during this difficult time. Likewise, court dockets — which are backed up and trials delayed — will appreciate the civility employed by litigators to resolve cases.

You Must be Efficient

While the Coronavirus pandemic has taught us all to be more aware of personal hygiene, it has also forced businesses to become more efficient. The legal field, in many ways, is also a business. Law firms across the nation have transitioned to remote work for attorneys and staff alike. Attorneys — just like remote workers across the nation — are having to juggle work, family time, and schooling children. Legal work requires writing, editing, re-writing, analyzing, and researching, among other skills. While silence is key to these tasks, it is likely not available in prolonged periods right now. Using your time effectively is more critical than ever. Whether this means early mornings while the house is quiet or late evenings when everyone is in bed, squeezing in work and keeping clients up-to-date needs to happen.

Keep Using Discovery

The courts need not be involved in the discovery phase of a lawsuit — unless there is a need for motion practice or hearings due to disputes that cannot be resolved without court intervention.   Use of requests for admissions (RFAs), requests for production (RFPs), interrogatories (Rogs), and depositions are ideal ways to move your case forward during this time. While depositions may be difficult due to social distancing requirements, these can be done via video conference — although, admittedly, they are not the same as in-person depositions. That being said, litigators must be patient with opposing counsel because this time requires this type of civility.

The Case Must Go On

While it is true that the global pandemic has placed us all in an unprecedented position, attorneys must continue to practice zealously for their clients while employing additional patience for those on the other side of the case. In doing so, we can maintain our obligation to our industry while still properly representing our clients.

Remote Deposition Tips from a Court Reporter

 

Whether you are familiar or brand new to the concept, attending remote depositions has become inevitable. As judicial orders get extended due to concerns surrounding COVID-19, in-person depositions are happening less frequently, if at all. While the conditions may not always be ideal, see below for some tips to make your remote depositions run smoothly.

BEFORE THE DEPOSITION

Training. Familiarize yourself with the program you will be using: Zoom, WebEx, GoToMeeting, et cetera. Do a quick run-through ahead of time if possible.

Send exhibits beforehand. Sending emails and downloading exhibits during the deposition takes up time. If you send exhibits before you begin, this will make things easier on your court reporter. And don’t worry about marking exhibits. Your reporter can do that for you.

Arrive early. It helps to log in to the deposition 10 to 15 minutes early for troubleshooting or to introduce yourself and share contact information.

Internet connection. Be sure to use the best internet connection available. (Hardwire into your modem if possible.)

Charge your phone. Even if you do not plan on using your phone, make sure it’s fully charged. If something malfunctions with your laptop or tablet, you will have your phone ready to connect as backup.

DURING THE DEPOSITION

Go slow. It may seem awkward to pause after questions and answers, but now more than ever it is crucial that attendees do not speak over one another during the proceedings. This creates less interruptions by the court reporter for repeats and clarifications.

Close apps. Be sure to close any programs not needed as this will help your device’s connection.

Mute yourself. If you are not actively speaking, keep yourself muted. It helps immensely with the audio quality. If you need to object or insert something on the record, unmute yourself at that time.

Audio through your phone. There is an option through remote meeting platforms to use your phone audio (dialing in and enter your meeting information) in tandem with your computer. This will maximize clear audio.

Turning off your video. If your connection gets spotty, try turning off just your video. Oftentimes, that will clear up audio issues, and you will still be present.

Headphones. Using headphones or earbuds with a microphone helps isolate deposition audio.

Be patient and open-minded. Nobody anticipated we’d be working in a global pandemic. Things may go wrong, but there’s no need to get frustrated. Take a deep breath. We’re all learning!

Background. While on video, aim to sit in front of a plain area that is lit from the side or front. When seated in front of a window, please close the blinds. Sitting in front of a bright, open window makes it difficult for attendees to see your face on screen.

Breaks! Even though most of us are comfortably seated at home, be sure to allot time for comfort breaks.

AFTER THE DEPOSITION

Don’t rush to disconnect. The court reporter will likely have questions about signature, orders, or spellings. Be sure to ask before you hop off the deposition.

Talking afterwards. Please let the court reporter know if you plan to stay in the remote meeting and speak with your client. This way the court reporter will leave the meeting instead of ending it altogether.

If you are holding remote depositions, hopefully these tips will help. Many elements that appear to be challenging just take a little time and practice. If you have questions, be sure to ask the reporter or agency hosting the deposition. Please know that court reporters appreciate you and appreciate your business!

For further information and tips, please check out Elizabeth Gallo Court Reporting’s tutorials on YouTube.