As a working court reporter, I understand the pressure of getting out transcripts in a timely manner. When an attorney asks for a transcript to be expedited the pressure can be overwhelming, particularly when the court reporter is not informed until the end of the proceeding that it is going to be expedited. You can say good-bye to any plans for that evening and more often than not the following weekend.
Scoping and proofing transcripts takes time and great concentration. I use a scopist. She listens to full audio for videotaped depositions which is fantastic.
While I am at the deposition, I will start filling in my caption, appearances, and date of the deposition – the title pages. I can’t read most business cards without readers any longer, so before I start typing anything, I get out my glasses. I get a headache squinting trying to read numbers and email addresses.
The reader of this post might wonder why I’m pointing out my poor vision. The answer is because the little mistakes that one might make on the appearances, date of the proceeding, and even spelling of the witness name can have big, bad consequences. And business cards with small, difficult-to-read writing or typing fast and having no one proofing the information on title pages is not an excuse for mistakes.
We all have made mistakes that our offices catch – I wonder what mistakes we have made that have gone out to the client!
My goal is to stop making mistakes that can (a) stop production at the office, i.e., wrong date; (b) have a transcript go to a wrong mailing address; (c) prevent a rough draft recipient from getting their rough because of a bad email address; (d) have a paralegal call to “re-do” a transcript because the wrong court venue is on the caption…
Here are some of the procedures I have personally implemented in my quest to be perfect:
- When I type in the date on the transcript, I look at the date on my computer and only that date. I double check the date with the day of the week when I create the worksheet to make sure they match.
- I go over the business card twice and pay close attention to email address. Sometimes they are written super small and the g might look like a q or it can be a .net instead of .com.
- If the witness is to get original documents back or the transcript, I get their mailing address and ask if it is a home address or office. It helps my office know if something is being sent to a home or office. Plus I get a phone number. UPS and FedEx like phone numbers. I will note it is a home/office on the worksheet.
- Check the venue – District Court? State Court? Sometimes people copy/paste from past transcripts and choose wrong. Your CAT system should give you choices as to venue to remind you to always check the notice or pleadings.
- Start time of deposition – remember to check the true start time.
As someone that sits in an office adjacent to the production department, I hear the sighs of frustration, gasps, and even angry expletives when mistakes are found. The production person has to track down the court reporter, send back the txt file, and ask them to fix it. Inevitably, the transcript that is sent back is the one that the paralegal is calling about and needs “right away.” The thing is, when many reporters are making many little mistakes, everything slows down and the office becomes inefficient.
Court reporters are typically perfectionists and are amazing with their talent of writing verbatim and in real time. We can’t let the little mistakes get in the way of our greatness.