Give the Reporter a Hand to Get a Clean Depo Transcript

117533578When you’re taking a deposition, you know that ensuring a complete and accurate record is vital. So don’t take the person who’s dutifully taking down the proceedings for granted: Assisting the court reporter is not only polite, it might be the key to a clean depo transcript to use at trial.

Helping the court reporter starts even before the deposition begins by

  • Showing up early to organize documents for convenient reference and mark them as exhibits.
  • Giving the reporter a copy of the case caption so the transcript will include the correct case name and court number.
  • If the deponent is an expert, offering the reporter a written glossary of unusual terms that will be used during the deposition.

Once the deponent and other counsel show up at the deposition, you can help the court reporter by identifying everyone there, including the party each counsel represents.

During the deposition, help out the reporter by:

  • Spelling technical words or proper names into the record;
  • Controlling the examination so that two people aren’t talking at once (and if they do, ensuring that the reporter records the deponent’s statements before others’);
  • If you’re working with a relatively inexperienced reporter, making sure he or she understands that interrupting the examination to ask for an answer to be repeated is preferable to guessing at what was said;
  • If you are uncertain whether the deponent’s answer was recorded correctly, asking the court reporter to read back the last question and answer and, if the answer is incorrect, asking the deponent to repeat the correct answer;
  • Checking in with the reporter at a break about any transcription problems; and
  • During unusually long or technical depositions, occasionally asking if the reporter would like to take a short break.

For much more on ensuring an accurate deposition record, check out CEB’s California Civil Discovery Practice §§6.26-6.30.

Other CEBblog™ posts you may find useful:

© The Regents of the University of California, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

10 thoughts on “Give the Reporter a Hand to Get a Clean Depo Transcript

  1. Some additional thoughts:

    From time to time, ask the court reporter if he/she would like to take a break.

    During the break, do not ask the court reporter what he/she thinks of the testimony. She is not allowed to answer such questions and it will just be embarrassing for both of you.

    I have found that reporters have different practices when it comes to asking the reporter to repeat a question, i.e., sometimes the transcript reads only ” question repeated” (or similar). I ask the reporter to re-write the restated question into the transcript so there is no doubt later about what question the witness is answering and there is no distance in the transcript between the question and the answer.

    Don’t forget to have the reporter swear-in the witness. You’d be surprised how often this vital detail is overlooked.

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  4. Great article.

    I also think a lot can be said for helping a court reporter by properly preparing your witness(es). Advising your clients to provide audible “yes” or “no” answers prevents the need to constantly remind individuals that head nods aren’t sufficient in depositions. Also, it avoids the ugly “uh-huh” which can be found far too often in transcripts.

    Providing a glossary with terms and/or complicated names is something I’ve incorporated into my practice. Its a real help.


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