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.

Remote Depositions in a Pandemic World

If you’re tired of hearing about the pandemic, you’re not alone. Like many of you, our business model adjusted to the new reality that our volume of remote depositions in a pandemic world increased, while at the same time the need for in-person depositions decreased. Okay, maybe not the need, but for the safety of everyone, attorneys increasingly turned to remote options.

While our court reporting team has been part of many remote depositions, the need to learn more and be aware of changes as a result of the pandemic was a new experience.

Other changes we noticed were in the volume of travel opportunities for court reporters as well as learning more about Zoom and its features. Like you, we had to improve our deliverables as we all became remote workers, court reporters, attorneys, paralegals, and witnesses.

  • 50% is the number estimated for the rate of ongoing remote depositions even as we move toward an in-person world again.
  • There is worry from court reporters who work in courts that their job will become unnecessary. That is to be determined, and likely on a state-by-state basis, and based on the severity of the crime, as has always been the case.
  • Court cases continue to be conducted, even through 2020, and there is still a court reporter shortage, increasing opportunities like travel and working remotely on depositions.

We say this all because how we conduct depositions has changed over the last couple of years and we wanted to share what we’ve learned.

Here are our tips for remote depositions:

  • Educate yourself on the latest technology. It is often the court reporters that arrive early to a deposition, even a remote one, to make sure everyone has access to the Zoom meeting.
  • Create a secure meeting. When scheduling on Zoom, check the settings to be sure there is a passcode required and a unique link. This will help prevent the Zoom hackers from joining the meeting.
  • Organize exhibits. Keep track of exhibits by organizing them into folders on your computer as they are presented so you can refer back to them.
  • Work with the attorneys. As you’re preparing for the remote deposition, remind the paralegals and attorneys that large exhibits should be in zip files, so they are easily shareable. Ask if anyone, including the deponent, is challenged by technology, and assist in their set up.
  • Sharing of exhibits. Be sure to have a way to share exhibits between attorneys, typically a secure file share system.

For some, the idea of remote depositions is relatively new, at least in practice. This makes it important to be detailed in your communications and to arrive ahead of time to handle remote deposition tech issues.

If you’re interested in scheduling a deposition in Phoenix or surrounding areas, call Herder and Associates at 480-481-0649 today!

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.

The current uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic is not relenting.   Stay-At-Home orders, while relaxing in some jurisdictions currently, are predicted to be phased in and out throughout 2020 and beyond depending on expected subsequent waves of the virus.

Courts nationwide have entered orders rejecting extending deadlines and are now requiring that depositions be taken by remote means.   It is time to move forward accepting that our current circumstances are going to be here for a while.

Federal Rule 30(b)(4) provides that “[t]he parties may stipulate—or the court may on motion order—that a deposition be taken by telephone or other remote means.”  Arizona RCP mirror this language.

As discussed in our article Momentum: Use It or Lose It, it is predicted that dockets will be backlogged for months.  One must now seriously consider the devastating domino effect that any further delay in taking depositions will cause to their client’s matter, and their reputation.

There are practical considerations a litigator will face when taking a remote deposition.  Instead of hoping you’ve read the right article, let us do our job.

We walk counsel and their staff through these logistical nuances each and every day.  Our platform is encrypted, password-protected, and is FedRAMP (Moderate) and SOC2 rated.

Obviously, remote depositions require integration of various audio and video equipment.   Not to worry, we’ve got your back.  Whether there are 3 parties or 30, at no additional charge we reach out and conduct practice runs with you, opposing counsel, and the witness to test technology, share best practice, and answer questions.

As impartial officers of the Court proficient with video conference technology, we help ensure the propriety of the process.   There are best practice protocol that you MUST require be carried out, such as the certified court reporter having control of all hosting functions, disabling any chat function, monitoring band-width and audio integrity in real time, simultaneously marking exhibits, and video recording only on-the-record testimony, just to name a few.   There is also a plethora of experience we bring, contributing to the confidence that you are geared up and on point for remote depositions.  These are standard functions that our elite team welcomes providing to ensure the integrity of each proceeding.

Please, do not be intimidated or put off by this technology.  This is what we do.  This is what we’ve always done.  We are your certified technical support assistant from end-to-end for all your remote video conference proceedings.

Bring it.

ABA Journal – Lawyers face many new evidentiary challenges, such as where electronically-recorded audio was manipulated, and then accepted into evidence in a custody battle to make it appear that a father had used threatening language against another party in the dispute.

“Deepfakes” like this are completely avoided when you DEMAND to have a licensed stenographer instead of Electronic Recording (ER).   Unlike a mere audio file, a certified professional stenographer is a time-tested LIVE Guardian of the Record, an institutionally-vetted and impartial Officer of the Court that is actually both witnessing and transcribing in real-time each nuance of your critical proceeding.  After extensive background checks, National and State certification, and extensive continuing education on best practice and evolving technology, the professional stenographer remains the gold standard to protect the public and provide a verbatim, certified record which cannot be manipulated, corrupted, lost or “deepfaked.”

ABA Journal – “The judicial system needs to learn how to combat the threat of ‘deepfake’ evidence.”

For your Arizona testimony, please contact our elite team at [email protected] or (480)481-0649