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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Court Reporters and Court Recorders and Recording Machines-- Oh my!; or How and Why the work of Court Reporters, Court Recorders, and Recording Machines Can Be Mission-Critical to the Trial Team

When trying a case or working in a deposition, before the proceedings begin, give the court reporter or recorder your business card with the name of your party on it. Unless it would give away secrets, write on the card the names of all your witnesses, and also the names of any people or things that would be mentioned in the situation where the record will  be made. Take the record keeper's card (It likely that you will be paying money for the reporter's work, always a cheery thought for the record keeper and for the record keeper's family.). Learn the record keeper's name and how the record keeper likes the name pronounced. Refer to this person by name if you or someone else speaks too quickly or too quietly.
And, though I've never personally had this problem, look recordkeepers over for just a second to make sure that they are not sick, drunk, stoned, or otherwise distracted as in this case. If they are, the problems should be brought discreetly to the attention of opposing counsel and the court.
Reporters and recorders are often the hardest working people in a trial court room. One time when I was a law clerk many years ago, my firm had me transcribe an evidentiary recording. It was exhausting-- millions of little decisions had to be made. Should you include "Ums" and "Ahhs" in the transcript? How far should you go to figure out what someone is saying before giving up and saying that it is unintelligible? How do you punctuate what the people said? They didn't say it thinking that it would be transcribed. Anger them at your peril. They can do little bureaucratic things, especially in high-profile cases or on appeal that will make your life miserable, and you will never know why.
If you are working a case, say, in Title IV-D Child Support Court, where a recording machine is used, you or someone else that you designate must watch the device during the hearing, because if the record is not properly recorded there, the lack of a record is held against the appellant-- which is nearly always your client.

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