By hiring a court reporter to transcribe your upcoming legal deposition, you have taken an important step toward creating and preserving an accurate written record of the proceeding. To ensure the most accurate, intelligible deposition record possible, follow these 10 tips.
- Provide information in advance: Supply the court reporter with the Notice of Deposition, case number, venue, witness and attorney names and spellings, and other pertinent information before the deposition takes place. If the case involves unusual terminology or acronyms, provide the court reporter with spellings and definitions so they don’t have to interrupt for clarification.
- Make introductions: When everyone arrives at the deposition, introduce yourself to the court reporter, say which party you represent, and offer your business card. Address any questions the reporter has before you begin.
- Specify when speaking off the record: Explicitly open the record by stating that the deposition is starting. This signals the reporter to begin typing. Before taking breaks or having side discussions, say “Off the record.” Then, declare “Back on the record” when you’re ready to resume.
- Speak slowly: While court reporters can type at 225 words per minute or faster, it’s helpful to slow down. Pause for two to three seconds between sentences as well to give the reporter time to catch up.
- Make it clear when quoting a document: Continue speaking at your slightly slowed pace while reading from a document. Also, say “quote” and “end quote” to clarify that the words are not your own. Provide the court reporter with a copy of the document, preferably with the section you read from highlighted.
- Speak clearly: Annunciate, avoid “uh-huh” statements, and refrain from nodding, pointing, shrugging, or using other inaudible gestures. Make sure the deponent follows this advice as well.
- Don’t talk over others: When parties constantly interrupt or talk over each other, it’s impossible for the court reporter to capture every word. Be mindful of this throughout the deposition.
- Pause for exhibit marking: The reporter can’t transcribe while marking an exhibit, so pause until they’re ready to start typing again.
- Schedule breaks: Depositions can get lengthy, so schedule a 15-minute break every two hours for everyone to stretch their legs, use the restroom, or get a bite to eat. Breaks are also a good opportunity to ask the court reporter if they need spelling reminders or other helpful information for the remainder of the deposition.
- Avoid distracting noises: Avoid rustling paper, tapping on the table, clicking your pen, or making other noises that could be distracting or make it more difficult for the court reporter to hear what everyone is saying.
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