Deposition Interruptions: Why They Happen and What Lawyers Can Do About It

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.

How lawyers can avoid interruptions during depositions

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.

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