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Your Transcript...From Deposition to Copy

Do you ever wonder about how a court reporter gets such a great transcript to you after your deposition and the steps she takes to accomplish this?

The Scenario: You’ve just completed an all-day deposition of an expert witness in your case and you’ve lightened the load in your briefcase by giving all your exhibits to the court reporter. You’ve told her that you need the transcript expedited. You’ve been watching the realtime screen all day, so you know how clean the transcript is. It can’t be that difficult or take that long to get the transcript ready for delivery, right?

While your favorite court reporter is very good at their job – they must be, otherwise you wouldn’t hire them, right? — producing a transcript isn’t as easy as hitting the print button on the computer.​

The steps that a good court reporter will go through to produce a clean, accurate transcript include:

  1. Reporting

  2. Translation or Note Reading

  3. Scoping

  4. Proofreading & Correction

  5. Printing & Binding

1. REPORTING The first requirement is that a reporter be present at the event to be covered and take down what is said. The most common method these days is through the use of a stenographic writer. The reporter will be present for the entire proceeding. The reporter will be responsible for any exhibits which have been presented and must mark and catalog these before leaving.

2. TRANSLATION The reporter’s notes have been made, but they are useless to almost anyone except the reporter in their current form. The next step is to get these notes into at least rough English. If the reporter is using a manual shorthand machine, then the paper tape produced by the machine must be read and retyped. More typically, a diskette will be taken from the shorthand machine and read into a personal computer running a CAT program. The CAT program will translate the notes, using a dictionary that matches that reporter’s writing style to English. Such translations are around 90% accurate. So what we have at this point is a rough translation of the text, with some raw steno markings in it and none of the cover pages, index and so forth expected on a finished transcript.

3. SCOPING The process of editing this rough translation into a finished transcript is called “scoping“. The CAT programs used for this offer many tools specialized to doing this speedily, but it still remains that the entire text of what was spoken must be read, understood and any questionable areas clarified.

4. PROOFREADING Once the transcript is “finished”, it is read through once again by the reporter and any errors noted for correction. The corrections are then made.

5. PRINTING And finally, the entire work is printed and bound.

You can see that someone has to “live through” the deposition or day in court three times over — once at the actual event, once when scoping the job and once again when proofing the transcript.

Depending on the type of deposition and the complexity of the case, it could take up to twice the length of the deposition for the court reporter to complete the transcript. So for a four-hour deposition, she could spend eight hours on editing and proofreading that transcript.

So remember, after your all-day deposition is over and you’ve expedited that transcript for overnight delivery, your court reporter will be up for hours that night reading, editing, and proofreading in order to provide you with the great service and accurate transcript you’ve become accustomed to.

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