Very early in our careers in the legal industry we realize that not only do we all work together, but we also learn together, we grow together, we celebrate together,
and we mourn together.
Sadly, we lost an American legend and true trailblazer today.  A skilled and dedicated attorney, that in spite of facing discrimination rose above the fray to become the first woman to serve on the United States Supreme Court.
Her vote was pivotal in nearly two-thirds of the closest cases, during her tenure,
more than 350 in all.
On a personal note, she graciously always took time to speak with court staff, never perfunctory, but consistently upbeat, caring, and kind.  Think about that, even in highly charged and adversarial situations treating each and every person in the room with the same respect and dignity.
It was a tangible gift, and one I am blessed to have learned from.
“The freedom to criticize judges and other public officials is necessary to a
vibrant democracy.”
 Sandra Day O’Connor

 

Whether we like it or not, we live in a world rife with Deep Fakes, CGI, and AI.
How do we ensure the integrity of sworn testimony into the future?
The National Court Reporters Association has created a position statement on the dangers of using AI in legal proceedings.
court reporter

Have you recently shown up to a depo and realized the “court reporter” didn’t have a stenography machine?  You might have thought, “Wow, the court reporter doesn’t need one of those little machines anymore.”

The hard truth is you have just been part of a bait-and-switch scheme that may cost you your case.

Currently, there is a practice happening where unlicensed court reporting agencies, who claim they can’t find a licensed stenographic court reporter, are sending in a notary public to digitally record the deposition and have it transcribed later.

The Court Reporter Standard Certification Program (CR) provides statewide certification for persons in Arizona who are qualified to be certified.  Code Section 7-206 governs court reporter standard certification and applies to any person who records and transcribes a verbatim record in any sworn proceeding by means of written symbols or abbreviations in shorthand or machine writing in Arizona pursuant to Arizona Revised Statutes Title 32, Chapter 40.

Who is actually preparing the transcript if a Certified Shorthand Reporter didn’t show up? Protecting your court reporting record. 

These unlicensed agencies oftentimes send the digital recording to multiple transcribers who sometimes are located outside the United States.  The person showing up calling themselves a “court reporter” is not the one who transcribes the depo.  If your Arizona deposition transcript is not prepared by an Arizona Certified Shorthand Reporter, your deposition might not be admitted into evidence.

This deception is happening nationwide.  In a recent case in San Mateo County, In Re: McIntosh, Case Number SC023606A, Honorable Judge Scott upheld the Code of Civil Procedure and denied the admission of a digitally recorded deposition not prepared by a Certified Shorthand Reporter.

  “…[W]ith regard to the deposition of Mr. Dirickson, that it was taken pursuant to the Code of Civil Procedure 2025.340 for audio and video recording but was not stenographically transcribed pursuant to CCP 2025.340(m). It was simply given to a — even though Mr.  Dirickson was sworn in by a licensed notary, Cindy Cobb is simply a transcriber, not a stenographic transcriber as required by law.     

Meaning, a certified shorthand reporter.  So, the deposition of Mr. Dirickson would be inadmissible for — inadmissible on those    grounds.”  

“…[I] understand, Your Honor.  But we ordered a court reporter, and that’s who came.  I don’t know the technical difference between a transcriber and a court reporter.”

Unfortunately, this attorney, who had ordered a court reporter, was not sent a court reporter.  This is where you need to be diligent, protect your court reporting record, and be aware of what is happening in the court reporting industry by these companies who are trying to make you think you are hiring a court reporter.  Do not rely on the court reporting agency to send what you have asked for.

To make sure this doesn’t happen to you:

  1. Make sure your notice states “before an Arizona Certified Shorthand Reporter” and not “and/or a digital recorder, and/or a person authorized to administer an oath.”
  2. When scheduling, make sure to specify you are ordering a Certified Shorthand Reporter.
  3. If you are not the noticing attorney, make sure you check that the notice says “before an Arizona Certified Shorthand Reporter” and not “and/or a digital recorder, and/or a person authorized to administer an oath.”
  4. Verify that the person calling themselves a court reporter is actually an Arizona Certified Shorthand Reporter.  Always ask for their license number.

Remember, you have a right to object to the deposition officer’s qualifications.

Lastly, Arizona Certified Shorthand Reporters (commonly called “court reporters”) are licensed by the State of Arizona and have a board that was established to protect the consumer, YOU.  The court reporters boards throughout the country claim they do not have jurisdiction over these companies, who are unauthorized to provide professional court reporting services according to current Arizona law.  If you have a problem with your transcript or deposition officer who is not an Arizona Certified Shorthand Reporter, you will have no recourse.

If you have been subjected to this practice, please consider filing a complaint with the Court Reporters Board of Arizona.

Trial lawyers and judges across the country agree on one thing right now:  There is a dire need to keep moving forward, to proceed with hearings and depositions by virtual and remote means.  This is not the time for delay tactics or gamesmanship, as it is predicted that dockets will be packed and backlogged for months whenever things resume.  Courts are already becoming overwhelmed with pending cases, rescheduled court dates and other deadlines.

The Covid-19 shutdown will undoubtedly end up delaying cases even further than most could have ever anticipated when they first chose to be idle.   At this point one must consider that each delayed date exponentially impacts the others in a case in a domino effect, with each delay critically impacting your client’s case. 

Will your client wait?   Will your practice?  

Our current reality of social distancing calls for physical distancing, not for locking up all progress and productivity.  We must be committed to keep any momentum going, no matter how small or incremental.  Keep moving forward, today, and the next and the next. 

                                         Commitment Ignites Momentum

Procrastinating (or accepting your opponent’s desire to do so) won’t help you win your case.  Don’t let your circumstances define your progress.  This doesn’t mean that you ignore the reality of our current situation.  It means that you proactively find a solution to promptly overcome the challenges that you’re up against, just like you have your entire career.   Assess, Adapt and Overcome.

Even the Supreme Court announced on Monday that it would hear arguments by telephone over six days in May. 

You’ve spent countless hours, years, building solid momentum in your career and in your practice.   Why let it come to a screeching halt, or unnecessarily concede to slog through decreased productivity and lost momentum?   

“We’re going to have to completely rethink how much has to be done in person, how much can be done using technology” Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht recently shared with ABC News.

Many of your clients may be suffering massive losses right now, but that does not change the fact that they fully expect you to quickly figure out how to keep the momentum of their case moving forward, no matter what. 

T.Harv Eker said,  “The world doesn’t need more people playing small. It’s time to stop hiding out and start stepping out. It’s time to stop needing and start leading.”

Pro Tip:  First, identify a handful of key people who have a proven track record, a superior work ethic and reputation, and the desire to help you move forward.  Herder & Associates Court Reporters is your experienced resource to help you navigate your transition to encrypted, password-protected remote video proceedings.  It is time to move past any hesitation or roadblocks you have and keep the momentum going.   

Call today: (480)481-0649 or email at: [email protected]  

Be well and stay healthy.