Court Reporters’ Advice for Attorneys Could Make Court Dates Run Smoothly
Court reporters have rough lives. They often pick up work at moment’s notice, sit for hours without speaking in a deposition chamber, and record every detail of testimony without missing a beat. Although their careers depend on staying silent, there are a lot of things that court reporters could say to help aid the question and answer process—especially since their years of listening have made them experts in clear testimony.
Here are a few pieces of advice from court reporters that can help attorneys keep the record straight:
- “Let the record show.” All people have physical tics and mannerisms that they cannot control. Some people talk with their hands, others nod, others may say “yup” (no matter how much better “yes” sounds). But when attorneys make their case in court, they often forget about these peccadilloes, making an awkward situation for a court reporter. For instance, if an attorney asks his client about a number on a piece of paper, and the client responds, “This,” the official court record isn’t going to be very clear. An attorney should make every effort to make sure all testimony is spoken. If it is not, a simple “let the record show” can be used to clarify nods, gestures, and other unspoken responses.
- Restate. As much as everyone would love for depositions and court testimony to run calmly and courteously, that is not always the case. Not everyone will wait his turn to speak, and attorneys, witnesses, and even the judge may talk over and around one another. At best, these transcripts are difficult to read; at worst, they are unusable. Often, an attorney will ask a question, a witness will interrupt to answer, and the attorney finishes the question throughout the response. Court reporters are supposed to transcribe chronologically, making a gobbledygook out of the question and answer. It takes only seconds for an attorney to restate the question and response for the record, making a clear-cut answer for later review.
- State your name. If there are multiple parties giving testimony or there is a deposition taken by phone, there are limitless opportunities to muddy the official record. A clear transcript must identify which party is speaking, which is difficult if witnesses are not in the room or are talking over each other. Attorneys may help clear up confusion by asking each person to identify him or herself before each time they speak.
- Finish your sentences. Even if your point has been made in court, it may not be on the record. Attorneys who begin a question with “As if he were…” or “Over the…?” and leave the question hanging without finishing their sentences make for some very choppy reading on the transcript.
At Casamo & Associates, we know how important it is to provide clients with a clear and accurate record of every deposition and court proceeding. Visit our Services page to find out how we can assist you in your case, or request a reporter using our Online Scheduler.