Digital recorders have been a very controversial topic in the legal community. Our blog this week will go over a few reasons why hiring a court reporter is the right choice for an accurate transcript.
How are court reporters superior to the use of digital recording devices?
Court reporters capture only the words that are spoken and relevant to the specific proceedings, whereas digital recorders often record everything, including the noise from shuffling papers, various audible interference and private conversations between attorney and client.
Court reporters can stop the proceedings for clarification and read back when necessary.
Court reporters can easily read back requested testimony in a matter of seconds, whereas audio recordings all depend on the operator’s ability to properly annotate the proceedings. In addition, many attorneys and judges prefer not to listen to the entire length of the recording.
Court reporters working in realtime allow for annotations. In addition, the words appear on the users’ screens seconds after they are spoken.
Court reporters are professionals, specially trained and state licensed
Court reporters personally purchase and maintain all required equipment and software.
Audio recordings do not allow judges or attorneys to do research during a proceeding; however ,when using realtime they can annotate during the proceedings as well as organize their marked testimony. The court reporter will also be using software that will make it possible to cut and paste. The court reporter’s notes can be put on a screen or printed out in a report.
Audio recordings still require transcription in most cases.
Audio Recordings have upfront costs for equipment acquisition.
Audio recordings require ongoing costs to the court for purchasing and maintaining equipment and upgrading software.
Audio recordings have instances of incomplete, inaudible and unintelligible recordings.
If you found this blog informative or helpful, please feel free to visit our blog page to learn more about what we do here at Phoenix Deposition Services. If you’re looking for the very best in Phoenix court reporting, look no further than our Phoenix court reporters to get the job done.
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.
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.
If you are looking to hire a phoenix court reporter or anywhere else, just like any other new hire, if you already have an idea about your expectations, as well as what you need from the service. There are also several “serious” needs whenever you hire someone, so be confident about your overall expectations.
Court reporters are critical to any legal proceeding. To better serve you in this regard, listed below are seven areas that should be on your list of must-haves:
1. Court Reporters Must be Competent
Competency is a multiple edged sword, as it is more than just having a license. The reporter should be licensed, and you can’t have qualms about asking for qualifications and perhaps more important, recommendations. Note here that the recommendations must be verifiable. If this information isn’t easily accessible on a website, then ask for and receive the information.
Experience can vary, and it is easier to hire a court reporter for the court who is experienced in depositions. You don’t have to have the exact experience as long as they have a similar experience, and proof of a cool head under fire.
2. Punctuality in the Court Reporting Field
A court reporter can never be late. Everyone else can be tardy, and often are, but the court reporter is held at a standard above the rest and should always be early, never frazzled, and over prepared.
3. Timely Turnaround on Transcripts
Can the court reporter handle an expedited request? Are they able to recognize that counsel has forgotten a trial is coming up so quickly that the normal process is not going to meet review deadlines and point it out? You need a confident court reporter. One who has top skills, can be an asset and not be a drag on proceedings, and always delivers high-quality transcripts.
4. Emphasizes Attention to Details
When it comes to court reporting, details are critical. For example, information is indexed to make it easy for counsel to reference it, so it’s important that the court reporter pays attention to the minutiae—including and up to spelling words properly.
The reporter needs to ensure they have all the information needed to prepare a transcript. Many attorneys look to the court reporter to organize and keep control of the exhibits so being meticulous is a skill set you want. Attention to detail is a reflection of the best court reporters.
5. Pleasant Demeanor
The court reporter must know their business, but be able to gently guide witnesses or deponents and never take sides. Willingness to coordinate the needs of all parties, and ensure that all present are comfortable, and at ease is also important, as it contributes to an environment of unity. The court reporter is there to protect the record as opposed to advancing theories or opinions.
6. Timely Turnaround
Verbatim transcripts of legal proceedings such as depositions, meetings, and hearings is an absolute must. A court reporter’s work is sent to all parties and counsel involved. Errors in any of these areas can be detrimental to someone and can be highly costly. Likewise, delivery of the transcripts promptly is just as important as the work being exact. Delivery before a deadline, instead of arriving at the last possible moment gets high marks and recommendations.
7. Professional Court Reporting Firm
A court reporter must deeply understand their business and always be prepared and know what’s expected of them. The reporter must know the players, agencies, attorneys, judges, advantages, facilities, and abilities of the parties involved. The court reporter should also dress in a professional manner. Hence, attire should never get in the way of the job.
Those are the top seven areas that should be high on your list of priorities the next time you need to hire a court reporter. Other areas include availability, fees, well spoken (no speech impediments or problems speaking before a crowd), if you need to hire other vendors to complete the service, and the ease of use in being able to hire the court reporter.
The reporter should also be mobile and able to get around the city during normal business hours. Likewise, everyone has time when they must take off for personal reasons but trying to squeeze those in between appointments can be a disaster waiting to happen. So it also helps to find a reporter whose personal life doesn’t interfere with their work life.
There are many more areas, but the seven listed above are the ones you shouldn’t do without — ever. If you have questions about this article or would like to learn about court reporting in Phoenix, AZ contact Phoenix Deposition Services at (602) 230-2499 or complete our form today!