Any reporter MUST provide the same services in the same time frame to all parties in the proceeding, not just to the firm that hired them, not just to one individual party, but to all parties in a proceeding.
2. Remain Unbiased
During a trial, court reporters must listen to everything that is going on in the room. They must remain unbiased and transcribe each document as accurately and precisely as humanly possible. The validity of the case itself depends on the reporter’s documentation. A reporter must listen to every statement and record it without considering its weight one way or another.
It is not the court reporters job to choose what is recorded or what facts should be included. Every statement, reference and exhibit must be properly and accurately recorded to maintain the integrity of the case from start to finish. For example, if the court reporter knows someone involved with the case or has information that is pertinent to the case, they should feel a moral and legal obligation to step down from the position and let an unbiased third-party court reporter take over their duties.
3. Preserve the record
HIPAA rules apply to court reporters to the extent that we’re required to protect the information we hear and write, including private information, like social security numbers, credit histories, health information, credit card numbers, and any other personally identifiable information. The items listed above are all examples of details we hear every day.
Exhibits are another example of documents that need to be protected within the HIPAA rules. Often medical records are admitted as exhibits to a deposition or court trial and there are numerous rules and guidelines that must be followed to maintain their confidentiality.
These 3 ethical practices are just the beginning in a long list of morally righteous convictions we possess and practice daily at Phoenix Deposition Services.
When working with Phoenix Deposition Services, you can always trust we hold our ethical standards to the highest degree of importance. Schedule your deposition today and see for yourself.
This blog is about recognizing and avoiding bad questions and answers during a deposition or trial. Assisting your client in refreshing their memory regarding facts pertinent to the case is important but that’s just the start of what is in store for the preparation of your witness for upcoming deposition or trial. You also need to prepare your client for problem areas of questioning. In this blog we have listed some problem questions and how to react and answer them properly during the course of a deposition of your client:
Compound questions, which incorporate two questions in one, such as, “Do you smoke marijuana every day or just once a week,”, the first question in this statement is “Do you smoke marijuana”, and if yes, is it every day or just once a week , this form of questioning is very deceptive and dangerous because a yes- or-no answer can be interpreted as an affirmative response to the underlying predicate.
Questions in Absolute Terms
Whenever an attorney uses such terms as, “Do you always” or, “Have you never,” they are attempting to lock your client into absolute terms. There is nothing wrong with being absolutely sure, you just want to make sure that that is in fact the case.
There is nothing that more quickly undermines a claim or gives rise to the all-popular defense mantra of “secondary gain” than needless exaggeration.
Stay factual! Do not guess and do not speculate. You do not have to have an answer to every question, and that is okay. You are only human.
“Would It Be Fair to Say…”
Anytime a witness hears a question prefaced with such a line, they should make sure they in fact agree with the proposition set forth in the question, as this is often unfair to the witness.
Booking a conference room offers convenience and allows all parties to gather at one place so that more can be accomplished in less time.
When exploring your options for a conference room to hold an upcoming deposition or interview it is important to think about the features that you’ll need in the space.
Is the Conference Room Wi-Fi and Technologically Capable?
Conference Rooms should have available Wi-Fi connectivity. The ability to use laptops and tablets that are logged onto the internet are a must have for conferencing and recording of video depositions.
Is it Cost Effective?
Cost-effectiveness is another consideration that can guide you to the right conference space. When you are scheduling phoenix court reporting services for your meeting, a conference room may be available free of cost for added convenience.
Audio/Visual Equipment for Video Conferencing
When it comes to video conferencing, it is important that the room has the necessary equipment in place to be able to record both audio and visual data. It is important to have features such as adequate seating, whiteboards, charts, Wi-Fi connectivity, televisions and monitors, and recording systems in place so that the deposition can be accurately recorded for future use by the courts.
The conference room must be large enough to be ADA compliant. This means that there is room for all parties to be present and that all ADA guidelines are met in the way of confidentiality and professionalism.
The right conference room will also be conveniently located so that it is accessible for all parties involved in the meeting.
If your in need of Phoenix court reporters who can get any size job done accurately, affordably and the way you want it, then look no further . Call us today at 602-230-2499 or visit our websites schedule a deposition page.
Court reporters can use you help in these six suggested ways . The number one objective of court reporters is to preserve accurate and high-quality records for each of our customers. After all, without concise records of the case, it would be difficult – if not impossible to properly manage complex legal proceedings.
While it is a stenographer’s job to keep records that accurately reflect the deposition, there are certain things that you – as a legal assistant or paralegal – can do to make our jobs easier. Here are a few of them.
1. Sharing Case Captions with the Court Reporters
Near or at the top of the list of critical items to share with your court reporter is the case caption. Namely, the caption is important because it contains the title page of the transcript. So if you want to ensure that your deposition specialist has access to the case caption, you may want to get it to her before the deposition.
2. Maintain a Record of Appearances
Another important detail that you don’t want to leave out when requesting a deposition would be the names of all who may be present during the deposition–excluding attorneys. This helps the transcriptionist keep track of anyone who addresses the court.
3. Provide Uncommon Spellings
Another area that can slow your stenographer down is odd spellings. However, you can prevent misspellings in advance by proactively sharing the spelling of any uncommon names or words with the deposition specialist beforehand.
Likewise, outside of uniquely spelled words, there are other instances where you may want to provide a spelling list with your court reporter. For example, this may be required for certain technical terms that the transcriptionist does not use on a regular basis.
4. Ordering the Transcript
When the deposition is over your court reporter may ask if you would like to purchase records. If you do need transcripts, it helps to be prepared; which means knowing which format you need the transcript in before the court reporters asks you.
Please note that sometimes it can take a while to compile the records. If this happens, remember to be patient with the court reporter.
5. Share Email Addresses
Since email messages tend to be the preferred method of communication for stenographers, you’ll want to get into the habit of emailing them. The good news is that when you do so, your records will arrive intact and on time. In addition to your email address you may also want to share your lead attorney’s email address, as well.
6. Give Lunch Breaks
You’ve often heard it said that it’s the little things that count. The same holds true with stenographers who do so much just to ensure that your cases run smoothly. For instance, a deposition can easily last for several hours or more.
This is the perfect opportunity to show the court reporter that you care by allotting break time and having lunch delivered. Not only does this help the stenographer but since it gives the transcriptionist’s mind time to rest, it ultimately makes for better court reporting, as well.
As you can see, several of the items above can be shared with the stenographer before the start of proceedings.The bottom line is that heeding these suggestions can ultimately help devote more time to your case.
We thank you for taking the time to read our blog and all interested parties can Schedule a Deposition with us by clicking here.
As a paralegal, part of your job entails preparing the client and other witnesses for deposition. In a written deposition, the deponent’s body language is not reflected on paper, and any evidence is evaluated only on the basis of the witness’s recorded words. However, in the case of video depositions, the deponent’s testimony also includes physical gestures and other visual cues that can be beneficial or detrimental to your client’s case.
Giving evidence in any legal setting can already be taxing enough without the presence of videographers and lighting professionals. So as one might expect, a videotaped testimony requires even more work, which invites a greater degree of stress. In addition to the regular deposition preparation process that you’d ordinarily carry out, you may also want to share a few tips with your client on physical appearance, body language, and vocal expression.
The Deponent’s Physical Appearance
While the focus of a deposition is the evidence that the witness presents, it is natural for the judge and jury to notice your client’s physical appearance when watching a video statement. Hence, it’s important to help coach your client on making a great impression during the video deposition.
Your client’s clothing choices are crucial not only for the viewing audience but also for the overall video quality, so encourage your client to wear clothing that is both comfortable and professional. Likewise, it’s best to encourage your client to avoid loud colors or wild prints. Plain pastel colors are excellent choices because they help the videographer achieve color balance.
Good posture is always encouraged in formal settings. The same applies to video deposition. Your client should look as comfortable and natural as possible while also displaying confidence and professionalism.
Body Language Can Affect a Deposition
Body language can speak volumes in video testimonies. Often, jurors make assumptions about the witness based solely upon body language. Here are several useful tips you can give your client to ensure that they convey the right messages:
Be cognizant of facial expressions – The client’s face will be the focus in a video deposition. Accordingly, your client should avoid eye-rolling, brow knitting, and other facial expressions that may distract the viewer or send the wrong message.
Avoid fidgeting – Fidgeting is often associated with nervousness. Unfortunately, a nervous looking witness may be viewed as being someone with something to hide. Despite the anxiety that most individuals experience when sharing evidence, you want to encourage your client to avoid fidgeting.
Avoid excessive hand gestures – Similar to fidgeting; gesticulation can be distracting. In your preparation time, it may help if you videotape your client so that he or she has a better understanding of their general appearance on camera. Ultimately, your aim is to help the client understand that their body language can significantly alter the way that a judge or jury interprets the evidence.
How Vocal Expression Can Impact the Jury
Vocal expression is as important to a video deposition as the client’s physical appearance. A written transcript will not include the varying attributes of your client’s articulation. This is not the case when your client is giving evidence in a video deposition. The long pauses, soft tones, elevated volumes, or frustrated tones will all be self-evident to the persons viewing the video. Encourage your client to remain calm and speak clearly.
Video depositions offer multiple advantages when presenting evidence to a jury. They have the ability to bring the testimony alive, and many jurors are more inclined to watch a video deposition than to read a long transcript.
However, in preparing your client for this type of deposition, don’t forget to highlight the pitfalls associated with appearance, posture, and articulation. Your job is to help the client avoid any such pitfalls. In doing so, you do a great service to both your client and employer.
The witness that is critical to your client’s case will not always be in your state. When this happens, there are several legal and other preparatory steps that must be taken to depose the witness. In this blog, we explore the necessary steps to prepare for an out of state deposition.
As a paralegal, your role, under the supervision of your assigned attorney, is to ensure that the necessary steps are taken to secure the witness for an out of state deposition.
Know the State Laws
Each state has different rules and laws as it relates to depositions and the process required to compel a witness that is within their jurisdiction. You must ascertain the specific county in which the witness resides and determine the procedural rules that must be followed to depose the witness.
A quick way to make sure that your law firm is following all of the procedural requirements of your witness’ home state is to contact the clerk of the court. The clerk can provide accurate information on how to go about deposing the witness in their jurisdiction, along with regulations relating to serving a subpoena.
Secure Your Witness
It’s always easier when the witness is a willing participant. However, this isn’t always the case. It is important to note that sometimes even consenting witnesses will change their minds and depending on the value they add to your case; it may be best to secure your witness’ presence with a subpoena.
This process of using a subpoena to secure your witness varies from state to state. So, it’s important that you understand the overall process and. Some states require a commission or letters of rogatory as part of the procedure involved in securing a witness. You may also want to consider hiring a law firm from that state in addition to obtaining information from the clerk of court.
Every aspect of your client’s case is time sensitive so obtaining and serving the subpoena should be top on your out of state deposition to do list. A witness who does not turn up for the deposition can result not only in out of pocket expenditure for your attorney, but your client may also have to pay the opposing side’s expense.
All legal proceedings require at least some preparation. However, when your witness is out of state, more planning is required to make sure that everything is in place to facilitate the deposition. In addition to adhering to the laws and regulations of that particular state, making the necessary applications in your state is also important to ensure that you are on the right path.
Further, since time is of the essence, it’s important to make sure that you meet specific deadlines. With an out of state deposition on hand, there are greater chances of delays. As a paralegal, you will need to factor in such issues and plan accordingly to ensure that there are no eventualities that will cause your client more money.
Planning ahead will also include preparation for the actual deposition day. With an out of state deposition, there is no running back to the office to get a file or document that was left behind. It’s vital that your attorney be equipped with all that is required to carry out the deposition in another state.
There are several logistical considerations involved in pursuing an out of state deposition. Once the preparatory legal filing and serving work is complete, both you and your attorney can focus on the general preparation that is required for a deposition.
Recently, the legal profession has seen a trend towards firms relying more heavily upon deposition summaries than what has occurred in the past. There are several factors contributing to this recent shift in how witness testimonies are handled. So in this blog, we highlight the advantages of using accurate and condensed deposition summaries.
Part of your job, as a paralegal, involves offering legal administrative support to your firm’s attorneys and helping to save your employer time and money. This often includes finding ways to make the deposition process run more efficiently.
Given the sheer volume of paperwork that depositions can necessitate, one of the best ways to streamline the process is to draft a summary of the deposition. The benefits are immense, as we will outline below.
Deposition Summaries Save Time
Time matters in every legal case; this is what makes depo summaries so helpful. Essentially, they recap the high points of a deposition, allowing for quick reference in both pretrial and courtroom settings. With a depo outline in hand, the assigned lawyer can focus on more technical legal work, allowing him or her more time to devote to winning a case.
While you can write deposition summaries in-house, outsourcing this task can free up time to carry out duties that are more critical to the case. Usually, companies who offer this service have the resources to deliver witness summaries under tight turnaround conditions.
Witness Summaries Help in Pre-Trial Preparation
One of the things that legal professionals come to expect – as it relates to witness testimony is that just a few hours of recordings is enough to generate reams of new paperwork. Moreover, while some of it is relevant, not all is germane to the case. To isolate the most relevant facts, some paralegals resort to using highlighters and post-it notes. However, a witness summary makes pre-trial preparation easier, not only for you but the attorney, as well.
The benefits of a deposition transcript summary become even more apparent when preparing witnesses for trial. Having a synopsis of their statement, which highlights the major points can prove valuable in witness’ memory before the trial. It can also serve as a quick point of reference during legal research.
Summarizing the Deposition Delivers Value to Your Client
Since most law firms bill by the hour, time and money are joined at the hip in the legal profession. Clients are acutely aware of this, which is why they prefer not to be billed for anything they deem unnecessary to winning their case. Summarizing witness statements requires a considerable amount of time and resources on the law firm’s part. Although certainly important, your client may not feel that the summaries warrant billable hours. Outsourcing this task allows clients to reap the benefits without feeling shortchanged.
Likewise, outsourcing transcript summaries can save you money, as well; because when handled in-house the hours can pile up quickly. In fact, even if the client is willing to pay, devoting resources to handling witness statement summaries can affect your firm’s cash flow. Likewise, if you’re in the midst of a contingency claim, recouping these expenses could take years.
Witness Transcript Summaries are Critical to the Court Process
In addition to assisting your witnesses in refreshing their mind, they can also help provide a frame of reference for the opposing counsel’s witness testimony. There is value in being able to identify key points of the opposing side’s statement. For example, this makes it easier to discredit a witness who changes major aspects of their statement, during the trial.
A deposition summary can also prove useful to the judge. Indeed, a well-written witness statement summary that adheres to the court’s guidelines is readily admissible by the judge, who can use the summary to prepare a summing-up statement or even use it during the trial. Likewise, if given a choice between a written summary versus a voluminous written testimony, most jurors would prefer the deposition summary.
Why Outsource Deposition Summaries?
Outsourcing deposition summaries comes with several advantages.
Your Law Firm Stands to Save Money – Trained professionals can quickly prepare your deposition summaries while also lowering your administrative costs.
Better Time Management – The time that you save by outsourcing your depo summaries can be used to improve other aspects of your client’s case.
Professional Results – An experienced court reporting firm should not have a problem submitting depo summaries that the court deems acceptable.
These are just a few reasons that you may want to consider outsourcing your witness transcript summaries to a qualified court reporter.
Preparing a case for trial is hard work and involves many moving parts. And while it’s certainly important to know that you’re ready for trial, it also helps to look prepared, and deposition summaries can help you on both fronts.
As a paralegal, your role in the deposition process is critical to the overall success of each case. In addition to helping the attorney prepare the claim, you’re also responsible for preparing the witness. Whether the witness is your client or a support witness for your case, thorough preparation can make a big difference on deposition day.
When prepping a witness for deposition, you should always work under the guidance of your attorney. However, there are a few things that you still should know.
Explaining the Deposition Process
Most witnesses are new to the world of legal litigation. Whether the witness is the average deponent or an expert, providing evidence can be overwhelming for anyone doing so for the first time. Your role is to explain the deposition process in a straightforward manner, and in doing so, you might be able to remove any anxiety on the witness’ part.
The information you provide should include:
An explanation of a deposition.
How a deposition fits into the overall legal system?
What are the possible outcomes of a deposition?
How will the outcome affect the case on a whole?
What is the role of the witnesses?
The importance of giving evidence at a deposition.
In your explanation, you’ll also want to allow room for questions. It might also prove helpful to prepare a general document or brochure; explaining the deposition process.
Some witnesses are uncomfortable testifying in front of the other parties. This can create a great deal of anxiety, especially if the witness is attending a deposition for the first time. Whatever the nature of the evidence, there are several items that you’ll want to share with your witness, before they begin answering questions. Here are a few of them.
Listen to the Questions – It is vital that you impress upon your witness, that they listen carefully to each question. Explain to your witness that their answer is being recorded, and so it is important to ensure that their answer is really the response to the question asked.
Answer the Question Being Asked – Sometimes witnesses can get sidetracked and offer more information than what is necessary. Since this can complicate the case, you’ll want to convey the importance of only answering what they’re asked, as opposed to giving long winded answers that aren’t relevant to the question.
Seek Clarification – Occasionally, you may encounter witnesses who don’t understand something but refuse to ask questions. You can address this beforehand by assuring the witness that it is okay to seek clarification on anything that he may not understand.
Don’t Make Things Up – Your witness should enter the deposition room knowing that they don’t have to know the answer to every single question. So remember to encourage the witness to be truthful and accurate during the testimony.
Since a deposition is essentially a question and answer session, preparing the witness should be a top priority for you.
Advice on Physical Posture
While a witness’ physical appearance is not important to the recording of the evidence, it is a tool that attorneys sometimes use to determine the witness’ emotional state and how truthful he may seem. With this in mind, you may want to emphasize the value of maintaining an upright posture while being deposed.
Your witness should sit up straight in her chair and avoid looking rigid.
Where possible encourage your witness to avoid looking distressed, angry or frustrated.
Maintain eye contact with the person asking the questions.
Our bodies have the ability to transmit unintended information, so encourage your witness to practice projecting a calm demeanor.
Preparing the Witness via Mock Depositions
Under the direction of your attorney, you may choose to organize a mock deposition. In this scenario, your responsibility is to ensure that the witness is ready for the mock deposition. Additionally, you may want to confirm that your witness is familiar with the documents are part of her deposition.
Once you have completed the preparatory work, be sure to follow up with your witness and find out if they have questions or concerns. Another step you can take is to organize pre-deposition meetings with the attorney.
A well prepared witness is not only good for your case, but also ensures a smooth deposition process. Fortunately, as a paralegal, you have the opportunity to tilt the odds in your favor by preparing your witness for deposition. Hence, the saying, ‘a paralegal’s job is never done’.
Although much of what court reporters do occurs behind the scenes, they play an integral role in the legal system. In this respect, court stenographers are not unlike paralegals. But despite the similarities, it has been my observation that many paralegals are uncertain of what to expect from court reporters.
Given the amount of interaction that paralegals and court reporters have with one another, it’s important that you know how best to work with court stenographers to foster a better working relationship.
Professionalism in Court Reporting
Court reporters are conditioned to abide by some of the strictest deadlines in the legal field, and for good reason. Since legal proceedings cannot begin until the reporter arrives, punctuality is not just a courtesy, it’s a must. Add to this the fact that law firms can’t bill for lost time, and only then can one truly appreciate the gravity of promptness. Hence, it goes without saying that when you hire a court reporter, there should be no doubts about his ability to show up on time.
Similar to timeliness, courtesy is expected from all court reporters. As a matter of fact, most reporters are so polite that you will rarely even hear them during proceedings, but make no mistake – their presence has a tremendous impact on the overall success of the case. Furthermore, you should anticipate this type of professionalism not only during the proceedings, but also when receiving the transcript, along with any other interaction that occur thereafter.
Confidentiality of Stenographers
In addition to recording legal proceedings, court reporters must also safeguard confidential information. In fact, the majority of information that comes into a court reporter’s possession is private and shouldn’t be divulged to anyone who isn’t part of the proceedings. Court stenographers understand that a breach of confidentiality may spell disaster for their case and for the court reporting industry, as a whole.
This is why as a paralegal; you should feel confident in the fact that your court reporter will maintain the highest level of integrity with the information that you entrust to him. Indeed, depending on the circumstances, there may be times when court reporters come in contact with information that may be struck from the record, which further necessitates the need for confidentiality.
Impartiality in the Court Reporting Profession
The bulk of what you do, as a paralegal, involves carrying out various tasks for your clients to improve the firm’s odds of winning the case. As such, it isn’t your responsibility to present the case of the opposing party or to be neutral in your proceedings. However, the same does not hold true for court reporters. This means that even though the court reporter was hired by your firm, her position calls for neutrality in all proceedings and does not allow her to say or do anything that could imply bias.
Furthermore, court reporters are trained to avoid expressing their opinion, as it relates to any case that they may be involved in. In essence, your court reporter’s role is to record and deliver a written transcript of the information – as presented – with the highest level of impartiality.
Court Reporters and Accuracy
The very nature of a court reporter’s job requires accuracy. So you should always expect your court reporter to display a firm commitment to accuracy, when delivering transcribing trials, testimonies or other proceedings. Likewise, inaccurate transcripts can prove damaging to your case and that of opposing counsel. While court reporters are not perfect and mistakes may happen, from time to time, you should still expect high standards where accuracy is concerned.
High Quality Transcripts
Transcripts represent your court reporter’s output or end product. If you’re working with an experienced court reporter, you should expect to receive a high quality transcript that is not only free of errors but that follows standardized formatting guidelines of the profession. Furthermore, while each state may have their own formatting requirements, your court reporter should be familiar with the standards and apply them to the final transcript.
In summary, a court reporter is a trained professional, whose role in legal proceedings is highly valuable to you and other members of the legal community. Accordingly, your court reporter should always strive to meet your expectations, which will ultimately lead to smoother trials, depositions, testimonies and other legal proceedings.
Due to the COVID crisis affecting the legal community, Phoenix Deposition Services can conduct your proceeding from anywhere in the world, remotely, utilizing the Zoom mobile videoconferencing platform.