Confidentiality is an essential element in building a trusting lawyer-client relationship. After all, if you’re a criminal defense lawyer and your client withholds vital details because he or she doesn’t believe the information will be kept confidential, then the entire case could be derailed. Court reporters in San Jose have a similar duty to abide by a code of ethics, including the responsibility to preserve the confidential nature of the information they record.
Understanding Confidentiality and Attorney-Client Privilege
Even among experienced lawyers, you’re likely to hear some people using the terms “duty of confidentiality” and “privileged information” interchangeably, despite their subtle differences. Both of these legal concepts have the end result of encouraging clients to disclose sensitive information to their attorneys. However, the lawyer’s duty of confidentiality is typically specified in the state’s ethics rules (American Bar Association Model Rule 1.6). The attorney-client privilege, on the other hand, is in common law. It’s essentially a rule of evidence, as it prohibits lawyers from being required to testify about the statements their clients made.
Identifying When Information Is Privileged
The attorney-client privilege applies to many circumstances, even if the person who revealed the confidential information isn’t actually a client. For example, a privileged relationship exists when:
- A prospective client or an actual client solicits legal advice from a lawyer.
- The prospective or actual client intends to keep the information confidential.
- The lawyer acts in any professional capacity.
Attorneys have the duty to keep privileged information confidential, even after the client is no longer a client, and after the client’s death.
Using a Secure Case Management System
Even if you are careful to never discuss the details of a case with anyone who isn’t authorized to have that information, you might inadvertently experience some lapses in confidentiality, especially if you store information electronically. Work with a court reporting company that offers a 24/7 virtual case management system. The security of this system allows you to access your online case file repository at any time without worrying about a breach in information security.
The highest priority of court reporters serving San Jose is the accuracy of their transcriptions. Ethical, dedicated court reporters won’t hesitate to interrupt a deposition if their ability to get information on record is jeopardized. This can sometimes lead to ill will among the parties involved. If you’re an attorney, here’s what your court reporter wants you to know.
Why Deposition Interruptions Happen
Court reporters record verbatim speech at 225 words per minute or faster. Speed is important, but accuracy is paramount. Simply put, interruptions happen when a witness mumbles or offers a non-verbal response, or when multiple parties interrupt each other. In these situations, the court reporter must interrupt the proceedings to have the witness repeat the statement. Newly certified court reporters do tend to need to interrupt depositions more frequently, however, they’re typically the least willing to do it. Court reporters with plenty of experience generally don’t need to interrupt as often, but they’re more willing to assert themselves when the situation calls for it.
What You Can Do to Prevent Interruptions
Attorneys prefer to keep interruptions to a minimum, as they disrupt the flow of questioning and answering. Yet, many attorneys don’t realize that they play a direct role in how many interruptions are necessary. It’s well worth the time to discuss some ground rules before you get the deposition started. Clearly explain to the witness that the role of the court reporter is to take down an accurate record of everything that everyone says on the record. In order to do this, the court reporter must be able to hear every word. Establish the following rules:
- Only one person is to speak at one time.
- Wait until the questioning attorney is completely finished asking a question before responding.
- Every speaker should talk with reasonable clarity, volume, and speed.
- No non-verbal responses (i.e., head-shaking or nodding) are allowed.
Additionally, attorneys can help court reporters do their job well by providing a short information packet with the proper spellings of names and common industry jargon.
In late 2013, new HIPAA regulations went into effect that can affect court reporters who provide transcription services pertaining to patient information. The next time you hire a court reporter in San Jose, consider whether any of these updates might apply. Under HIPAA, both you and your court stenographer could be considered “business associates” of the healthcare industry. In other words, if you’re handling a case for a covered entity, such as a health plan or hospital, then by extension, you and the court reporter you hire are subject to HIPAA regulations.
HIPAA requires that all business associates of covered entities have an established Business Associate Agreement (BAA). This document must include multiple provisions, including the specifics of how a court reporter is permitted to disclose and use personal health information (PHI). Other provisions are: Requiring the court reporter to report security breaches in PHI, implement safeguards to protect PHI, and ensure that any subcontractors abide by the BAA.
There are many things lawyers aren’t taught in law schools, and one of them is how to conduct legal depositions in unusual places around San Jose. Some of the strangest places lawyers have done legal depositions are hotel rooms, airports, prisons, and adult entertainment stores. These are obviously not ideal places to take down sworn testimony. Whenever possible, it’s best to have a court reporter meet you and the other parties at a private conference room. Even if you’ll be conducting a remote deposition, a private conference room is best because it eliminates distractions on your end, and it ensures you’ll have the right technology to conduct the deposition securely .
Court reporting agencies that offer conference room rentals also typically offer high-tech solutions to guarantee privacy and security. Due to the sensitive nature of legal cases, it isn’t advisable to conduct remote depositions with less secure connections. Sophisticated video conferencing platforms even allow private chat options, which let clients communicate with their attorneys confidentially.
Long before your client sits down near a court reporter , he or she needs to know exactly what to expect from a typical deposition held in San Jose. Asking and answering tough questions may be as natural to you as breathing, but for your client, it may be intimidating. Arguably, one of the most important benefits of thorough preparation is that it gives your client the confidence needed to effectively handle this stressful situation.
Explain the process of the deposition.
You should assume that your client is completely unfamiliar with the concept of legal depositions. Go over the basic facts, including the following:
- It does not take place in a courtroom.
- A court reporter will take down everything said on the record, verbatim.
- Testimony is given under oath.
- Giving testimony that contradicts later testimony at trial could be perjury.
Instruct your client to only give verbal answers—court reporters can’t record gestures. If your client doesn’t know something, he or she shouldn’t try to guess. Emphasize the importance of only giving as much information as was asked for. One-word answers are encouraged, if they answer the question.
Review documents and facts.
Although your client can answer “I don’t know,” if that’s the truth, it’s better if he or she knows the details of the facts of the case. Spend plenty of time going over any relevant documents and records. Being fully informed will help your client to confidently answer questions.
Help your client anticipate questions from opposing counsel.
It’s impossible to think of every single question opposing counsel will ask, but you probably have a fairly good idea of the direction of the questioning. Write down a list of every question you can think of, and put the toughest ones at the top. Go over these questions exhaustively until your client feels comfortable with them.
Give some last-minute tips.
You don’t want to overwhelm your client with information, but you may wish to remind him or her of some crucial tips just before the deposition. Remind your client to actively listen to every question, and not to answer the question before opposing counsel is done asking it. Let your client know that it’s okay to briefly pause—this gives you a chance to object if need be.
It’s possible for a witness’ answer to change between the time of the legal deposition and the trial. You can use the transcript made by the court reporter in San Jose during the deposition to impeach a witness during the trial. Watch this video to find out how one experienced trial lawyer uses cross-examination to build a case for perjury.
He reminds viewers that most jurors don’t know what a deposition is or what the role of the court reporter is. This is why it’s essential to use cross-examination to educate the jury. You can accomplish this by asking the witness questions like, “Do you recall giving your legal deposition?” and “Do you recall giving an oath to tell the truth under penalty of perjury, just like you did before you took the witness stand today?” These types of questions emphasize to the jury the significance of the changes in the witness’ testimony.
Depositions are the backbone of discovery, and it’s crucial to know the difference between proper and improper objections. Whether you’ll be conducting your first or your hundredth legal deposition in San Jose, take a few minutes to brush up on the basics of deposition objections. If you object improperly or too frequently, it may damage your own credibility and, more importantly, derail your client’s train of thought. Here’s a quick look at some proper objections.
Asked and Answered
Don’t allow opposing counsel to ask the same question twice. Some lawyers may ask repetitive questions without realizing it. In other cases, it’s a blatant attempt to get the witness to change the answer. Object to repetitive questions before your client has a chance to answer it and potentially change a few words in the answer.
Some lawyers persist in attempting to intimidate the deponent and opposing counsel by shouting, pointing fingers, and otherwise making a nuisance of themselves. If opposing counsel tries this with you or your deponent, stay calm and do not reciprocate. Instead, say to the court reporter, “Let the record reflect that Mr. Smith is yelling at my client.” For the record, you should clearly describe the type of harassing behavior, and that you will terminate the deposition unless it stops. Then, follow through if necessary.
Legal depositions are conducted to get the facts of the case on the record. Counsel should not ask a deponent to give a legal conclusion, especially if the deponent isn’t a lawyer. You can object to questions that ask for non-factual information.
Confidential, privileged relationships exist between patients and doctors, and clients and attorneys. Be wary of questions that ask the deponent to share information that was discussed in confidence. You can object to these questions based on the privileged relationship.
The mischaracterization of earlier testimony may be influential in a trial, and it confuses all involved parties as to the actual facts of the case. You can object based on opposing counsel’s mischaracterization of your client’s previous testimony.
Notary services are frequently necessary in legal proceedings, and other businesses often rely on notaries as well to certify their important documents. When should you consider using notary services in San Jose ? Here is a closer look at some common types of notarial acts.
If you have a deposition transcript or affidavit that needs to be certified, then you may need a jurat. Jurats, also called verifications of oath, are legal affirmations that the information included in a document is true. A notary will require a signatory to agree to the information in the document before signing it, and the signature received during jurat notarial services signifies that the person signing the document swears that its content is true.
Oral Oath or Affirmation
Notaries are also able to administer an oral oath or affirmation. These do not need to be tied to a document for the notary to administer them. When under an oral oath or affirmation, the individual who was sworn in by the notary swears that any statements they provide will be completely truthful. The difference between an oath and affirmation is minor, and which one to use depends on the situation. An oath is a pledge of truthfulness to a supreme being, such as the oaths taken in a courtroom with a hand on the Bible. An oral affirmation is a pledge of truthfulness based on a person’s own honor and reputation.
Copy Certification and Signature Witnessing
Not all notarial acts involve administering oaths and affirmations. Notaries can also authenticate documents. With copy certification, a notary attests that a copy made of an original document reflects the original exactly and does not have any missing parts. Notaries can also confirm that a signature on a document is legitimate. For signature witnessing, the person who is signing the document must be present and must provide identification, so the notary can validate that the signature is legitimate.
When your court reporter in San Jose creates a record of a legal deposition, he or she is providing you with a valuable tool you can use in the courtroom is impeach witness testimony. Accurate court reporting is the key to using this impeachment device.
This video demonstrates how to use inconsistent statements to impeach a witness during trial testimony. If the transcript of your deposition created by your court reporter contains different answers than a witness provides on the stand in court, you can confront that witness about his or her changing testimony and challenge their truthfulness. Your legal deposition transcript is the proof you need to impeach a statement a witness gives at trial to call the entirety of his or her testimony into question.
One of the most important tools you can use when you prepare a case is a court reporter . Court reporters can help through many stages of your cases, from witness preparation to depositions, and the transcripts they create are invaluable as you get ready to take a case to trial. Here is a look at some of the ways your court reporter in San Jose can help you get ready for court.
Before going into a deposition or a trial, you will certainly want to spend time preparing your witnesses for the questions that they might face. During this process, it is important that your witnesses stay consistent in their answers through all stages of the case. Using a court reporter to create a transcript of the questioning you do during your preparation can help you look for areas of weakness or inconsistencies, so you can focus on those before they arise during testimony. You can also use transcripts from your witness preparation sessions to plan your presentation and determine the order in which to call witnesses so that their statements build a clearer case.
The deposition stage lets lawyers obtain information from witnesses by asking a variety of questions, including some which are not admissible in court. The information obtained during a deposition is invaluable, as it lets you prepare appropriately for cross-examinations, if the case does come to trial. Legal deposition transcripts can also help you impeach witness testimony if a witness changes his or her answers during trial. If you opt to make your own recording of a deposition rather than using a court reporter, you could be left without the tools you need to challenge witnesses if the case ends up in court.
Court reporters stay up-to-date on the latest technology being used in the legal field, including remote and video depositions, virtual case management, and online transcript viewers. They can give you access to tools that will make your case preparation easier and more convenient, giving you the flexibility to work from anywhere.
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