Tag: court reporting

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.

Making Your Remote Office a Success

With the unique challenge of working and keeping businesses going during COVID-19, having a remote office has become our new normal but it can still be an unknown, possibly even stressful, factor amid these disruptive and uncertain times.

It’s more important now than ever to keep your mental and emotional well-being in check, as well as that of your employees and staff.

SET SCHEDULES 

Keeping a regular, and realistic, schedule is vital. Plan your day as if you were in the office with a start time, lunch time and quitting time. Make sure you allow technology-free time to pamper yourself, whether that’s reading a book, working on a jigsaw puzzle or a soothing bath.

HAVE A DEDICATED WORK SPACE

You don’t need a room specifically for your home office but find space that is to be your work area during work hours. This can be a corner in your bedroom, living room or on your kitchen table. Tell your family this is your work area during your scheduled work times. After hours, it can go back to its intended use.

GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK 

Working from home doesn’t (and shouldn’t) mean parking yourself at your desk 24-7. Your mind and body need breaks throughout the day so be sure to take them, preferably every 30 to 60 minutes. It may be getting up to stretch for a few minutes or getting a glass of water. On phone calls, get in the habit of standing rather than sitting to keep that blood flowing.

BUT WATCH OUT FOR THOSE DISTRACTIONS!

Working from home can be wonderful (saving on gas and travel time with no commute and hey, you don’t even have to wear shoes!) but being at home can lend to a host of distractions. Don’t let your laundry, that Harry Potter marathon or social media impact your productivity.

STAY CONNECTED

That said, social media is a wonderful way to keep in touch, not only with family but also co-workers. The office is not only a place to work but also a method to combat loneliness and isolation. Working from home, especially for extroverts, can create anxiety. So check in with your co-workers, not just to discuss work-related matters but also fun things, like sharing recipes and family and pet photos.

AND GET FRESH AIR

Fresh air and sunshine are a necessity. With fewer people driving, and warmer weather upon most of us, getting away from your desk, out the door and into the environment is fundamental. Not only will it invigorate you but will keep your immune system healthy.

SHARPEN YOUR SKILLS

If your workload is lighter than normal, it’s the perfect time to investigate some online courses that will improve your skills, raise the value of your expertise and give you continuing education credit. As a bonus, it also takes your mind off economic worries.

DON’T FORGET YOUR EMPLOYEES

If you’re in management, it’s imperative not to neglect your employees. Understand that they might be feeling anxious, overworked and even isolated. Make yourself available to address any issues they might have. Have regular meetings by video or phone to keep everyone up to date. Let your staff know the best way to reach you with questions or emergencies. Find out if your health plan offers support for insureds who may need it and pass that information along.

 

Lastly, smile and breathe!

Breastfeeding in Public Legal in All 50 States  

While nursing mothers have had to endure shaming whilst breastfeeding in public – something that is likely not going to end any time soon – now they have the law on their side. Earlier this year, public breastfeeding became legal in all 50 states. This became possible thanks to two states – Idaho and Utah – that passed laws that protect breastfeeding mothers, according to a news report published by USA Today.

National Breastfeeding Month

 

August is National Breastfeeding Month. Accordingly, below is a list of rights and protections nursing mothers have in the United States.

 

  • Mothers can now breastfeed anywhere, any time, in all 50 states, as well as the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C.;
  • 17 states have laws on the books that address breastfeeding mothers who are called for jury duty; some allow postponement of jury duty while others allow an outright exemption;
  • Under ACA, the cost of breastfeeding pumps is covered at no cost to the mother, although the insurer can choose the brand and type (electric, manual or rental) that is covered under the policy;
  • Lactation consultant costs are also covered at no charge by health insurance under ACA, including meetings with in-network consultants, domestic violence counseling, and gestational diabetes testing;
  • Employers must provide break time for nursing mothers and a place to pump breastmilk, for up to one year after the baby’s birth, according to the Department of Labor;
  • 29 states, in addition to the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, have laws on the books regarding breastfeeding in the workplace;
  • Six states, in addition to Puerto Rico, have encouraged the development of or implemented breastfeeding awareness education campaigns. These include California, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi and Vermont.

 

Under Nevada law, the statutes note that breastfeeding a child is not considered a violation of indecent exposure laws, and that a mother may breastfeed in any private or public location, where the mom is otherwise allowed to be located.

 

Other Protections for Mothers

 

It is estimated that at least 180 countries across the globe have laws that guarantee some type of paid maternity leave. Only nine countries do not provide this benefit – Papau New Guinea, Surinam, six Pacific island nations, and the United States. In America, four states – California, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island – offer paid leave that is funded through payroll taxes.

 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BOL) reports that more than 41 million U.S. workers can not take a paid sick day to care for a child who is ill; moreover, a mere 12% have access to paid leave. According to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, the state of Georgia ranks 44th in the nation when it comes to working mothers. And, under Georgia state laws, maternity leave is not mandatory; neither mothers nor fathers have extensive rights under its laws. Moms generally have the option to buy short-term disability insurance before getting pregnant – and this is how they are able to earn maternity leave after the baby is born. That being said, dads are unable to file a short-term disability claim under these insurance policies for parental leave.

A Few Considerations Regarding Ethical Rules for Court Reporters

We recently discussed the importance of the human element in the court reporting industry.  While the Georgia court reporters at Elizabeth Galloethics Court Reporting, LLC have always embraced technology and innovation, we simply wanted to remind everyone that we are and always will be about the people we serve.  One of the most important distinctions between machines and human beings is that humans experience thoughts and emotions.  As such, humans also have ethical standards that need to be followed in almost any situation.

That’s no different when it comes to court reporters.  Much like with attorneys, there are ethical rules that are published by different associations and governing bodies related to the court reporting industry.  The National Court Reporters Association, or the NCRA, has published some of these rules and standards.  You can rest assured that the court reporters at Elizabeth Gallo Court Reporting, LLC have taken these standards to heart and that we dutifully adhere to them.  We’d just like to point out a few of these standards so that people can understand a bit more about how we do what we do.

1.  Objectivity

When one thinks of being objective in a courtroom setting, most would visualize the judge and the jury.  Court reporters need to be objective as well, and that includes both how court reporters act and even any potential appearance of lack of objectivity.

2.  Conflicts of Interest

Judges are supposed to recuse themselves from cases where conflicts of interest are present.  Attorneys are supposed to turn down representation of clients where these same types of conflicts exist.  Court reporters are also supposed to disclose any potential conflicts of interest in keeping with the objectivity standard discussed above.

3.  Impropriety

While many people may not think about this much, there are several ways in which court reporters can act inappropriately.  The Georgia court reporters at Elizabeth Gallo Court Reporting, LLC, make sure to not only act appropriately, but to avoid even giving off the appearance of impropriety in accordance with the standard.

4.  Confidentiality

Once again, most people do not think of court reporters when it comes to duties of confidentiality.  In a legal setting, most people would think about the attorneys.  Court reporters are also supposed to do what’s necessary to protect confidential information in order to preserve the rights and interests of all of the parties to a particular case.

5.  Honesty

Honesty is a standard in court reporting that reaches several levels.  Obviously, court reporters need to be honest with their transcripts.  Court reporting firms also need to be honest about the messages they put out about their services when they are advertising, much like attorneys.

Court reporters need to follow many of the same ethical standards as attorneys and judges.  Clearly, there is no flexibility in this regard with the team at Elizabeth Gallo Court Reporting, LLC.  If you’d like to learn more about our services, feel free to contact us at any time.