Effective Ways a Court Reporter Can Assist in a Case

Savvy attorneys realize a court reporter can be an indispensable resource in evaluating a witness and trial prep in general. While at one time all courtrooms supplied a trained professional to document proceedings in detail, budget cuts and changing priorities have left many legal experts on their own when it comes to securing a reliable transcript of a trial or court hearing.

Court reports offer an unbiased, high-quality record of witness testimony, lawyer motions and objections, and judicial rulings that provide invaluable information as the trial continues or the verdict is appealed at a later date.

What an Experienced Court Reporter Does

Court reporters provide real-time access to a transcript of depositions, hearings and trial proceedings. Using modern technology, they create a written record of every word said during a legal proceedings, including witness questioning in front of a jury or judge. Court reporters are often present during depositions in order to capture the details of testimony as a case unfolds.

Many who work as court reporters are members of the National Court Reporters Association, a body that mandates a code of ethics. Trusted court reporters are unbiased recorders of information and prohibited from showing favor to one side or another. In addition, career court reporters maintain professional decorum by acting professionally at all times, showing little emotion during proceedings and remaining focused on the task at hand.

In cases where witness testimony is central to an attorney’s argument, court transcripts preserve and thus permit detailed cross-examination and impeachment of a witness with his or her own words. When the court record is absent, a witness can simply forget the precise account given during a previous day’s testimony. One person’s version of events may be contrary to another’s. Transcripts are an invaluable tool for lawyers who want to get to the core of what happened.

Talented court reporters offer language and translation services for live testimony and transcribed documents. All members of the profession receive training in legal proceedings and legal language in order to do their jobs efficiently. Multilingual court reporters have the added ability to translate from one language to another with the nuance of the legal environment. Also, an experienced court reporter learns the case and will build a database to make subsequent depositions to make a case run more smoothly.

Learn more about Magna’s language services.

How a Court Reporter Can Be a Difference Maker

Witnesses are often deposed before trial. This is a form of questioning that takes place outside of court, in the presence of attorneys from both sides. Witnesses are under oath and sworn to tell the truth, by the court’s agent- the court reporter, but lawyers can ask questions that may not be admissible under court rules. A deposition is an invaluable way for both sides to get at the information they are looking for and to plan trial strategy.

In order to use this deposition for maximum effect during a trial, lawyers want to present a witness with the testimony provided at a previous date. This is almost impossible without proof of previous testimony. Court reporting is more effective than a poor audio recording, since attorneys can zero in on certain words and phrases the witness used. In addition, relying on recording technology alone is actually time-consuming and more expensive, since a written transcript of an audio recording must still be produced. These written transcripts are also used in court briefs submitted by the parties.

In order to get a good deposition, court reporters can work with legal counsel to ensure the information is conveyed clearly. While remaining objective and professional, court reporters can request that parties refrain from talking over one another and speak clearly so no vital details are missed.

Court Reporters and Technology

Although court reporting has existed for many decades, it has evolved as technology has changed. Many court reporters use a stenotype machine to transcribe proceedings, but it has many modern modifications. Recent advances include connecting the court reporter’s device to a laptop to create real-time closed captions of the testimony or for the benefit of those with hearing impairment.

Some court reporters do their jobs over an internet live stream, allowing them to provide the same services without being in the same room. This is invaluable for depositions taking place in remote areas where it may be difficult to set up proceedings. Use of internet streaming depositions can also be a cost saver as travel costs are not necessary as well as time for travel is saved.

In any event, modern court reporters have extensive training and experience in the technology that makes their job easier and more efficient. Unlike some industries where technology has lagged behind, court reporting has embraced new ways of transcribing and saving information so it can be used in a legal context.

Learn More About Court Reporting Services

Court reporters are respected members of legal teams and the court system. For most, the profession is a long-term career that involves ongoing training and skill development. As resources provided by courts decrease because of declining budgets, law firms and lawyers often have to step in to fill the gap and arrange for their own services.

Given the importance of court reporting, it is essential that you choose not only skilled and experienced individuals, but a firm with extensive resources and a history of taking on the most qualified members of the profession. To learn more about your options for court reporting, virtual depositions, translation and video services, contact Magna today.

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Next Level Court Reporting: Why A Video Deposition is Worth It

Whether it’s a civil or criminal matter, court reporting is an essential aspect of winning your case. When breaking down the duties of a court reporter, though, the deposition is often considered to be one of the most important. The deposition ensures that you preserve witness testimony while avoiding any surprises at trial, but not all depositions are created equal. Court reporters that seamlessly provide video deposition services are often the most cost effective providers and in many instances the memorialized video deposition greatly increased the attorney’s chance of success thanks to the numerous benefits provided.

Benefits of a Video Deposition

When it comes to deposition services, video testimony provides the greatest tool for both witness presentation and impeachment. Every litigator has been in the position of having to read deposition designations to point out inconsistent witness testimony or when a witness is unavailable. By and large, jurors can become bored by the monotony of this practice. Also, this does not capture the person who is speaking and thus leaves the “witness” to the juror’s minds eye.

This problem, however, doesn’t exist when a video deposition is available. When you can show the judge or jury the witness speaking clearly into a camera, it becomes much more difficult for said witness to claim they didn’t understand the question or context, or even claim that their words were twisted or misconstrued. Video also provides you the opportunity to protect your own witnesses’ credibility if opposing counsel tries to manipulate what they said.

Additionally, court reporters who provide video deposition services help you gain a more in-depth deposition than with just a transcript alone. Far too often, witnesses will get off track when speaking during a written deposition. Their and their attorney’s knowledge that jury members will never see the actual conversation sometimes results in getting off the subject and a meandering testimony. When everyone understands that the deposition will be recorded, though, they’re more likely to “stick to the script.”

This allows you to streamline the deposition and come away with a cleaner transcript for use at trial or briefing. Depositions can last as long as necessary, but having the ever-watchful eye of a video camera motivates everyone involved to focus on getting all of the pertinent facts committed to evidence in a timely manner.

Paper Depositions & Video Depositions

While video deposition services provide a variety of benefits on their very own, the actual power of video becomes far more apparent when compared to paper depositions. Science has shown that the human brain processes video 60,000 times faster than it does text.

What this means is that judges and juries will be able to get a deeper understanding of what’s going on instantaneously. Fortunately, this benefit doesn’t just extend to judges and jury members. You will also be able to review a deposition and prepare your case in a more time-efficient manner than if you tried to sit down and pore back through volumes of written statements. And as any attorney can rightly attest to, time is money in the legal field.

In addition to being more cost-efficient by allowing you to more effectively use your preparation time, video deposition services also save on costs thanks to the ability to present testimony from witnesses whose location or medical condition prohibits them from coming into court.

Maybe the biggest benefit of video depositions is the ability to gain a deeper understanding of testimony by viewing body language. If you read a statement that says “I didn’t owe her any money” in court, it doesn’t say nearly as much as seeing the witness saying the same thing while rolling their eyes, sucking their teeth, and acting otherwise dismissive or insulting.

No matter what, being able to view a witness’s body language in addition to their words can speak volumes. This is why good court reporters will always use high-quality video depositions — preferably with multi-camera views so courtrooms will have every vantage point possible.

Video Depositions Are at the Forefront of Technology

Like most great industry tools, video deposition services don’t stop at basic functions. As technology evolves, so do video depositions. At Magna, for instance, the most up-to-date technology is utilized to provide video teleconferencing (VTC) and/or internet streaming services when performing video depositions via the Magna Legal Vision platform.

Since businesses using VTC and similar services reduce travel expenses by 30 percent, these techniques are beneficial both economically and technologically. In addition to utilizing the most advanced aspects of video technology, Magna also offers multimedia depositions. This means that trial exhibits can be displayed directly to the deposed while they’re offering a statement.

On top of all of this, the multimedia advancements utilized by Magna allow witnesses to annotate exhibits as they’re being deposed. This can turn into a powerful tool later at trial when the court sees the witness writing their own words via touchscreen monitors in relation to the exhibit at hand. And if this wasn’t enough, just imagine how powerful these multimedia tools can be in the hands of expert witnesses.

Video Deposition Is the Right Move

After utilizing video deposition services, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll ever want to switch back to paper and ink. Benefits, which range from pretrial to closing arguments, are just too numerous to overlook. Make sure you find a court reporter who offers video depositions in addition to the other tools you’d expect from a professional legal service agency.

For full-service court reporting services that provide video depositions, contact Magna today.

Read More About Legal Video Services

4 Secrets to Ensuring Court Reporting Expertise

secrets-to-ensureing-court-reportingLegal experts rely on information to make their case. It is therefore essential that all kinds of information, from historical documents to eyewitness accounts, be properly documented. Without proper documentation, lawyers may lose crucial pieces of the evidence puzzle. In addition, discovery that is not properly documented may not be admissible into a court or may introduce mistakes into the evidence analyzed by both sides in litigation.

Given the importance of court reporting, it’s no surprise that individuals who perform this work take their jobs seriously. Like any profession, however, court reporting firms and their personnel fall on all points of the spectrum of expertise. To make sure that your legal team gets the benefit of premier court reporting, to safeguard the strength of your case and protect your clients’ interests, ask these four questions before contracting for services.

Do They Use the Latest Technology?

Court reporting has evolved significantly over the past three decades. Expert reporters have remained up-to-date on the latest technology and use it to provide expedient, accurate and secure transcripts. While in the early days reporters would take manual shorthand or repeat testimony verbally into a machine, now they make use of digital recordings.

Court reporters may use a variety of high-tech methods. They may monitor and annotate digital recordings and ensure the accuracy of a transcript. Many court reporters do not need to be in the room while testimony is taken, as they stream the proceedings live over an internet connection. These kinds of innovations ensure there is a human being to confirm the content of the transcripts, while relying on the advances of modern technology. When hiring court reporters, you want them to be fast, reliable and accurate.

Are They Part of a Full Service Agency?

Law firms that contract for court reporting services have a full suite of needs. Complex litigation requires not only discovery, but all elements of investigating and building a case. Instead of undertaking a time-consuming and expensive process to find an agency that provides all necessary services, it’s preferable to contract with one company to supply everything you need.

Look for an agency that is not limited to court reporting services. Ask if they also go the extra mile and provide expert service in the areas of record retrieval, courtroom setup services, language translation services, video services and others. Knowing they offer everything you may need means you won’t be left scrambling before a tight court deadline to pull together essential evidence.

Are They a Member of the NCRA?

Dedicated court reporters understand the necessity of properly transcribing the spoken word. As evidence of this commitment, many court reporting firms and individuals are members of the National Court Reporting Association. This association has existed for more than a century and offers education and training programs to ensure members meet the highest standards of the profession.

In addition to high educational and training standards, members of the NCRA adhere to a Code of Professional Ethics. This sets out obligations for ethical conduct toward the public, the bench and the bar. A firm that hires a member of the NCRA, therefore, can rest assured the court reporting has been done in a fair and objective way that both legal counsel and the court can trust.

What Areas Do They Service?

Litigation work happens wherever evidence needs to be gathered. Often, this means lawyers drive many miles into remote areas or have to go to a trial location mandated by the court. Local court reporting services may not have the resources to get where you need them to be, especially on short notice. Even if they are able to fly into town or drive to the site of the deposition or trial, they will likely bill your firm for travel time and accommodation costs.

Ask whether the court reporting service has personnel ready and available within your state and city, so you don’t have to worry about delays. Magna has a broad reach throughout the U.S., so you can rest assured your professional court reporter will be on hand with reasonable notice.

Magna offers clients many benefits apart from its large reserves of professional talent. The firm has experienced people, having been in the industry for a number of years. It has kept pace with changing times in the court reporting industry, using up-to-date software and technology to offer premier services to clients.

Choose the Right Court Reporting Solution

As legal counsel, you have a responsibility to your client to provide the best possible representation. While in-depth legal research and solid arguments are fundamental to making the case for your client, it is also essential that every witness’s testimony is properly documented. In front of a jury or a judge, a case can turn on a single word, and you want to know that evidence has been deposed and recorded in a way that is accurate and objective.

The choice of a court reporting firm is an important one for your firm. With the right services, you can provide your best work to clients who rely on you to safeguard their interests. Learn more about our court reporting services to see if we’re the right solution for you.

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