Deposition Interruptions And Court Reporting
In an ideal deposition, court reporters are completely uninvolved in the proceeding outside of capturing the spoken record. However, sometimes situations arise in which a court reporter needs to interrupt a deposition for clarification purposes. Attorneys and court reporters can both take preventative measures to reduce the likelihood of interruptions, but they will inevitably be necessary from time to time. An effective court reporter should be assertive enough to interrupt a deposition when it is warranted. For more information on depositions and court reporting or any other court reporting matter, contact Kusar Court Reporters today at (800) 282-3376.
Why Are Court Reporter Interruptions Necessary?
Accuracy is always the top priority in court reporting. While recording depositions and other court proceedings at a fast rate is also an integral responsibility of the job, delivering a clear and error-free transcript is paramount. In depositions, there are several common situations in which something needs to be clarified in order for the court reporter to record an accurate transcription. For example, the court reporter may need to interrupt and ask for clarification after a witness mumbles when answering a question.
Both court reporters and attorneys may view interruptions as an inconvenience, but they are an inevitable aspect of depositions and other court proceedings. Both sides should strive to reduce interruptions while understanding that they are a part of the process and may be necessary at times.
When Should a Court Reporter Interrupt a Deposition?
Court reporters should be assertive and interrupt politely whenever clarification is needed. In many situations, the judge, mediators, or attorneys may ask for clarification on their own. But if neither does so, the onus is on the court reporter to interrupt.
Some common situations in which an interruption may be necessary during a deposition include:
- Unintelligible responses – The court reporter needs to interrupt if a response is not clear enough to record in the transcript. This commonly happens due to mumbling, speaking too softly, or too quickly.
- Nonverbal responses – Sometimes deposition participants may respond nonverbally with gestures like head-shaking or nodding. If this happens counsel should clarify for an accurate record.
- Participants talking over each other – Deposition participants occasionally speak over one another. This warrants an interruption and a reminder to wait until the current speaker finishes before responding.
Strategies For Avoiding Interruptions
While completely eliminating interruptions may be an unrealistic goal, certain strategies can be used to keep them to a minimum. Court reporters and attorneys can work together to reduce interruptions by employing these strategies.
Preparing Deposition Participants
At the very beginning of the deposition, the court reporter can speak with witnesses and other participants to set clear expectations for the proceedings. This can be done during the period in which the court reporter informs all parties that they will be capturing all testimony, as recommended by organizations like the Court Reporters Board of California. He or she should explain that their job is to compile a completely accurate record of the proceeding, including everything that all parties say during the deposition.
Some useful ground rules that can help reduce the likelihood of interruptions include:
- Only one person should speak at a time. All other parties should wait until the current speaker finishes before responding or asking another question.
- Witnesses should wait for the attorneys to finish their questions before responding.
- All speakers should consistently speak clearly, at an audible volume, and a reasonable speed.
- Avoid nonverbal answers, such as pointing or head-shaking.
You can learn more about deposition interruptions and court reporting by contacting Kusar Court Reporters.
Attorneys can prepare their clients for a deposition by going over the ground rules outlined in the previous section. They can also outline the deposition process and what to expect so that there is minimal confusion during the proceeding. A well-prepared client is more likely to communicate effectively without the need for interruptions.
In addition, attorneys can help make the court reporter’s job easier by providing any necessary information before the deposition. For example, a collection of relevant documents with the proper spelling of names, cities, or industry lingo can help the reporter prepare for the deposition. These documents may include a Notice of Deposition, service list, terminology list, and transcripts of previous related court proceedings.
Limiting Interruptions as a Court Reporter
In addition to setting expectations during the deposition, court reporters can help limit interruptions by thoroughly preparing for the proceeding. The San Francisco Bar Association recommends that attorneys provide court reporters with a list of documents at least 24 hours before the deposition. If not, the court reporter may need to conduct some research on all relevant terminology and previous court proceedings in the same case.
How Court Reporters Can Interrupt Professionally
Court reporters should strive to keep interruptions to a minimum. When the need to interrupt does arise, the court reporter should make sure to do so in a professional manner. Some key points to keep in mind when interrupting a deposition as a court reporter include:
- Politeness – All parties involved in the deposition want to keep interruptions to a minimum. While most attorneys are gracious and understanding when a court reporter needs to interrupt, doing so can occasionally receive a negative response. Court reporters should be very polite and courteous when interrupting to set a cordial tone. A simple “excuse me” and a “thank you” to all parties for their understanding, once the matter has been clarified, can go a long way.
- Confidence – It is important to balance politeness with confidence when interrupting. Since court reporters only interrupt when necessary, they should do so confidently with the knowledge that the other parties will likely understand.
- Clarity – The court reporter should immediately advise the deposition parties for clarification.
Learn More From Kusar Court Reporters
At Kusar Court Reporters, our team understands the importance of accuracy in deposition transcripts. As court reporters, our role is to act as impartial officers of the proceeding, but we also understand the implications of deposition interruptions and court reporting and when interruptions are necessary. If you are looking for a professional court reporting firm to handle your depositions, contact Kusar Court Reporters today at (800) 282-3376.