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Author Archives: Christine Randall

Why Realtime Reporting? It’s not what you think.

Why Realtime Reporting?

Why Realtime Reporting?As a court reporter and reporting firm owner, I often discuss different technologies with our clients. And in our industry, the technology-based offerings are many.  Realtime, delivering a rough transcript instantaneously during the proceeding to attendees in the room and/or at another location, is obviously a popular subject.  There is no question that there are those attorneys who love it and rely on it for their notetaking and then there are those that use their trusted yellow legal pad and their keen notetaking ability.  I get it.  I do most things these days on my computer or iPad, but there are times when a paper copy or a good pad of paper is the best choice.  We recently had a few instances come up that reminded me that realtime is not just for notetaking.  It can solve other issues that may come up in a deposition.

One thing that we see often is the use of realtime for someone who is hard of hearing.  As a matter of fact, my first realtime job some years ago was for a client who was hard of hearing.  The client explained to me that with age he was losing his hearing.  Although he still functioned well, he hated to have to keep asking witnesses to repeat what they said or to continually ask me to read it back.  For him my realtime screen made doing his job easier and avoided perhaps misunderstanding something the witness said.

For depositions where interpreters are needed, realtime can help speed up the flow.  And if you are bound by the seven-hour rule, realtime may be something to consider. 

We had a case where all the parties and witnesses needed an interpreter.  It became apparent early on that this would be a slow process.  It wasn’t the interpreter’s fault but the complexity of the case together with objections and interruptions.  There was a lot of reading back or restating the question.  This can be dependent, I suppose, on how the interpreters work, either translating simultaneously or waiting for the end of the statement before they begin the translation.  In this case we added the realtime screen for the interpreter.  It instantly became easier for the interpreter to stay on track and for the depositions to move at a quicker pace.    

Realtime can also be helpful for those witnesses who might have a thick accent or even a speech impediment.  By putting the realtime screen in front of them, they can review what the reporter reported and correct the misunderstanding immediately.

The last thing I wanted to touch on was sending realtime to an attendee remotely.  You may have an expert or party that would like to attend a deposition but cannot.  It is as simple as having the reporter email a link so they can follow along and read the testimony.  Of course, with a camera added, they could also see the witness and follow along with the testimony.  If you would like to be able to chat or interact with that person, a non-discoverable chat function can be added as well.

So realtime at your next deposition for notetaking may not be what you need, but you may come upon a situation where it may be just what is needed.  And did I mention there is no longer a need for cords and tokens?  The reporter can bring out a sleek iPad or tablet and your “problems” may be solved.

To learn more about remote attendance and scheduling tips, check out our article on 5 Scheduling Tips for Videoconference Depositions.

Wood & Randall, a Court Reporting Firm, Celebrates 15 Years in Fresno, CA

Fresno CA court reporter location

Fresno CA court reporter location

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – June 25, 2018

Wood & Randall, a court reporting firm, celebrates doing business from their location in Fresno, CA, for fifteen years. Wood & Randall provides court reporters, legal video services, videoconferencing, conference rooms, and other court reporting services.

Wood & Randall was founded in Bakersfield, California, over thirty-six years ago in January 1982. The firm is currently the largest court reporting firm with an in-house legal video department based in the Central Valley of California.

Christine Randall, owner of Wood & Randall, stated, “We’re thrilled to be celebrating doing business in our Fresno location for fifteen years. It’s not always easy for a business to decide to open additional locations. However, after we had been serving our clients throughout the Central Valley in California from our Bakersfield location for over twenty years, we saw a need for us to open up a location in Fresno. At our business’ core is the philosophy of ‘Moving Forward with Technology and Excellence.’ Wood & Randall identifies the needs of our client and exceeds their expectations. This philosophy and practice of providing excellent service and state-of-the-art litigation support is behind everything we do. There was a need for our clients to have access to professional conference room space in Fresno. We decided to go for it.”

Christine continued, “After starting with one small conference room, we received confirmation that there was indeed a need for the space and expanded to two large conference rooms. Then, about three years ago we moved into a newly renovated space that we are in today. We hired one of the top local interior designers to create an environment with our 4 conference rooms that attorneys would feel great about bringing their clients to for depositions, arbitrations, mediations, and any other meeting they have.”

Positive reviews from Wood & Randall clients verify their high level of service.

Lisa U. stated, “Our clients travel to Fresno frequently and need a conference room, court reporter and videographer for their depositions. Wood & Randall's Fresno office is the perfect setting & their staff is outstanding in every way. They are my first call for the Central Valley and I would highly recommend them.”

Jan Schmitt stated, “Wood & Randall in Fresno have far exceeded my expectations. Their offices, staff and reporters are professional, friendly and offer the best in customer support. I highly recommend them!”

Steven Gibbs stated, “Great fast service, friendly reporters and convenience. Easy to work with for short and long jobs!”

Lisa Given stated, "Our law office has used Wood & Randall for many year. Their service is impeccable and staff is always responsive. They strive to meet our needs – even when that need seems impossible!"

Christine Randall concluded, “We’ve really enjoyed working with our clients from our Fresno location for fifteen years and look forward to many more!”

Wood & Randall has locations in Bakersfield, Fresno, Visalia, and Valencia, CA. Their court reporters and videographers are highly skilled and are experienced in covering all types of legal proceedings. They provide court reporters, videographers, and other court reporting services throughout the Central Valley and across the nation.

The Fresno office information is:

Wood & Randall
516 W Shaw Ave #200
Fresno, CA 93704
(559) 224-2223
http://www.bakersfieldcourtreporter.com/fresno.html

To schedule a deposition or find out more information about Wood & Randall, visit http://www.bakersfieldcourtreporter.com/ or call (800) 322-4595.

5 Tips for Booking a Court Reporter for Your Next Trial

5 Tips for Booking a Court Reporter for Your Next Trial

5 Tips for Booking a Court Reporter for Your Next TrialThere have been so many changes in recent years in the California civil courtrooms with the availability of a court reporter.  Although some of the courtrooms do provide court reporters for hearings of less than two hours, many require the attorneys to hire an outside court reporter for the longer hearings or for trial.  We find that most of our civil clients do want to have their trials reported, and this can sometimes be a challenge if they are not booked well in advance.  As background, many reporters will not work in court and many are not yet approved so there is a limited number of reporters available.  

Tip No. 1

Call early to book and provide the reporter/firm with the courtroom, judge’s name, and the names of all the attorneys involved. 

Once you have a date for your trial, call your trusted reporting firm or contact a reporter on the list of approved reporters.  Most counties do have a list on the Superior Court website, but they can be dated where some of the reporters listed are no longer in the area or no longer available for handling trials. 

We all know that most trials settle.  That being said, if it does not, you do not want to be scrambling at the last minute to find a reporter who can handle the case for, say, the next two weeks.  Most reporters are booked days or weeks ahead, and a last-minute call for a two-week trial may not be doable. 

Once you have booked the reporter, I suggest you provide the reporter/firm with the full case caption, the department and judge’s information, and a list of all the parties/attorneys involved.

For the reporter/firm to be prepared, some judges require realtime and others do not.  Most reporters/firms that work in those courtrooms on a regular basis know what the judge expects.  This information at the time of booking allows the firm to best match the reporter(s) to the trial.  

There are financial considerations, and knowing the parties and attorneys involved will help put things in place.  For instance, are the parties splitting the cost of the court reporter?  Most of the time when we ask this question, it has not yet been discussed.  This is something that is best decided before the beginning of trial so appropriate funds can be deposited with the court reporter.

Tip No. 2

Decide if you will need a realtime feed and/or roughs. And if so, who else on your team will need them as well?

Receiving a realtime feed from the reporter or getting emailed a rough at the end of the day can be a great tool in trial for litigators.  By booking your trial early, the reporter/firm can reach out in advance and determine the needs of not only your office but opposing counsel.  For instance, for realtime, some attorneys may prefer to use their own laptop while others would like the reporter to bring an iPad or laptop for them.  For roughs, some of the members of the litigation team may also need a copy of the rough that is being sent out at the end of the day.  Email addresses can be collected ahead of time. These things can be worked out well in advance so everyone is prepared.  I know as a reporter there is nothing worse than interrupting a busy litigator to ask these questions during trial.

Tip No. 3

Let the reporter/firm know if you anticipate needing dailies during trial.

If you think you may need dailies during a trial, letting your reporter/firm know ahead of time is a must.  We know this may change as the trial proceeds, but having a heads-up that it is a possibility can make a difference.  The reason being is that depending on the length of the trial, the subject matter, et cetera, having dailies ordered during trial may require a second reporter or additional scoping assistance for the assigned reporter.

Tip No. 4

Decide if it is necessary to have jury voir dire reported or not.  If so, would you need it with or without realtime?

Jury voir dire is one of the toughest assignments for a reporter and is rarely ordered in an appeal, but it can be very important to have it reported.  This is just another area where it is helpful for the reporter/firm to know before the day of trial.

 

Tip No. 5

Provide the reporter with some preparation material, such as witness and exhibit lists.

Reporters who report trials really appreciate the opportunity to review motions, case citations, word indexes, et cetera.  If you are using a trusted reporting firm and they have reported some of the depositions, those can also be easily shared as well with the reporter assigned to the trial.  If the reporter has this type of information, it is helpful in building the reporter’s job dictionary for the trial.  What that means for the judge and attorneys is that as the reporter sends a realtime feed, the transcript is cleaner and easier to read.  If the reporter is preparing dailies, this also allows the reporter to produce the final transcript in a more expeditious fashion.

In closing, so many times reporting firms are called the Friday before trial when it becomes apparent a case is not going to settle.  Although your trusted reporting firm, I assure you, will move heaven and earth to cover the trial, it would be less stressful for all concerned to have booked much earlier and to have provided all the information necessary.  And you would hate to not be able to find an available reporter or for that reporter to not be able to provide what you need during trial. If the case ends up settling the Friday before trial, so be it.  In the legal world, we are all very accustomed to the fluidity of our calendars. 

If you are heading to trial and need video clips, you may want to read Video Deposition Clips at Trial: California Code of Civil Procedure 2025.340(m) & 2025.620.

(I do want to thank and acknowledge Shelly Hunter of Hunter + Geist and Jim Connor of Connor Reporting who contributed on this subject during a presentation to a group of paralegals earlier this year.)

 

Let’s Exit Bitmoji and Talk Deposition & Trial Apps

Let’s Exit Bitmoji and Talk Deposition and Trial Apps

Let’s Exit Bitmoji and Talk Deposition and Trial Apps

Thinking back on my history with computers – yes, I started as a reporter long before we had PCs, laptops, or the ability to create a caricature of one’s self from a cell phone.  As a matter of fact, for the first year of my reporting career I dictated my notes for a typist.  Then came the large PC that stayed at the office.  In order to work on transcripts, we would need to be at the office or transport it back and forth from home and office.  I remember hauling my first personal PC in a baby stroller. 

I was thrilled when laptops became available and we could easily transport them between home and office.  And add now the lightweight and easy-to-use iPad or your tablet of choice, together with our smart phones, and we can work anywhere, at any time, with the right apps.   

I have written before about apps, but in this article I am focusing on Cloud Storage, Legal Research, and Deposition and Trial Apps.

Cloud Storage Apps

cloud storage

A very popular cloud storage option is Dropbox.  With Dropbox, a lawyer or legal assistant can carry an iPad or smart phone to court to read and notate client files rather than carrying the paper files. The bigger the file, the greater the benefit. You can even use the doc scanner to save and share work right from your phone. The beauty of Dropbox is that you can work with your team through shared files.  Android user?  That’s not a problem with Dropbox.  That’s available as well.

Sharefile

A similar app is Sharefile.  We have used Sharefile in our office for years for sharing large files with clients. The mobile app is used in conjunction and allows the user to access, share, edit, and store files 24/7 from a smartphone or tablet. ShareFile offers security in a customizable solution – in our case we have it branded as well – and it integrates with the tools you already use.  It is also available for Android devices. The good news is that if you need to share documents with a client, it will not matter what kind of device you’re using to send the file, and it will not matter what kind of device your client is using. The file will transfer cleanly and securely with ShareFile.

Legal Research Apps

Fastcase

Fastcase is a free legal research application.  It’s like having the American law library in the palm of your hand. This app for either an iOS or Android user contains cases and statutes from all 50 states and the federal government. Not only can you search by citation, but you can also search by statute collection or by a keyword search.

LexisAdvance Westlaw

LexisNexis and Westlaw are very popular, and depending on which service you use, these apps, Lexis Advance and Westlaw, can also be a great tool for legal research on the fly from your mobile device. You can set up alerts, access and share your research, and you can also view documents easily.

Rulebook

Rulebook has had a recent update with some good reviews.  It is available for both iOS and Android.  With this app you can have mobile access to state and federal court rules and other publications such as The Bluebook.  It’s easy to navigate through the different rule sets.  However, those do need to be purchased. Once you have downloaded the rules, they are stored locally on your mobile device for access offline.  You can also keep multiple rules and authorities open at once and toggle between them.

Deposition and Trial Apps

ICVNet

ICVNet, a free app, or CaseViewNet’s Browser Edition is the easiest way to receive a realtime feed from the court reporter.  This product is one of the most popular and user-friendly realtime applications available. The days of tokens and cords are over.  Thank goodness!  With the new browser-based edition, attorneys can not only view a witness’ testimony in the deposition room in realtime but anywhere there is an internet connection.

Do you need to sit in your office and work on another matter but would like to monitor what is happening in the conference room down the hall?  Will you be out of the state on vacation and would like to be a fly on the wall for a few hours during a critical witness’ testimony?  No problem. Just click on the password-protected secured link provided by the court reporter from any device and you can follow along.  With ICVNet and the CaseViewNet Browser Edition, attorneys and legal professionals can receive, view, mark, and search.  At the end of the deposition, you can email the transcript file to yourself or an associate as well.

iJuror

For those of you looking to put your Post-Its or yellow pad away during your next jury selection, you should check out iJuror for $14.99.  With iJuror you can add and organize juror information by seat. Simply tap the seats to add juror information, drag and drop to choose and dismiss jurors.  Attorneys can share the information with colleagues, and it’s configurable to seating up to 60.

juryinahurry

Jury in a Hurry was designed by a litigator.  It’s $49.99, but it gives you information about your jury pool at a quick glance. You simply enter the juror data that you have chosen from an easy-to-use dropdown menu.  At a glance at the image of the juror on the app you will be able to see sex, age, race, level of education, marital status, et cetera.  It’s also customizable with your own questions and own case types.

TrialPad

TrialPad is a very popular courtroom presentation tool.  It runs $129.99, but this app makes it easy to bring up documents, compare documents, highlight text and even edit and show video clips.  For $299.99, you can get the Ultimate Litigation Bundle that has TrialPad, TranscriptPad, and DocReviewPad. With TranscriptPad, you can store and annotate transcripts and even create reports.  There is also the ability to assign issue codes as well.  Best of all you can print and email summaries. With DocReviewPad, you can review, assign Bates numbers, generate reports and also create production sets.  As with TrialPad, DocReviewPad and TranscriptPad can be purchased separately.

Amazon

It’s time for me to end this blog and get back to something very pressing…..ordering a few things from Amazon.  Boy, is this handy for not only the office but anything else that can be purchased with a click.

As always, if you have a great app to share, please let me know at christine@woodrandall.com.

You can also check out "Apps for Busy Legal Professionals: Is There an App for That?"

A Beginner’s Guide – or Refresher — to Working with Court Reporters

A Beginner’s Guide – or Refresher -- to Working with Court Reporters

A Beginner’s Guide – or Refresher -- to Working with Court ReportersWith all the parties and get-togethers over the holidays, I had the good fortune of running into an old friend and client.  I had not seen her for the longest time, and we quickly reminisced about the first time we met.  I was reporting a deposition at our office and her office was called and asked, “Is someone from your firm going to appear today at the deposition?”  It was quickly obvious that there was a miscommunication and that they needed to send someone over ASAP.  Well, she quickly drove over and arrived for the deposition.  It wasn’t until after everyone said their goodbyes that she turned to me and told me that it was HER VERY FIRST DEPOSITION. 

Thinking back on her performance, for lack of a better term, I was truly impressed.  Even though she probably was handed the file and had to rush over, she was collected and handled herself like an old pro.  She asked great questions, was mindful of the record, and did her job.  Obviously I am no pro at cross-examination skills – although I have seen some of the best in action – and would never make suggestions in that regard, but I do have tips I would like to share with attorneys, new to the deposition world or otherwise, that make for a better record in the end.

First, let’s make everyone’s job easier by providing the court reporter and their office with a full copy of the notice which includes any request for video — required per code — any document production, and the proof of service.  This notice will give the reporter your information as the noticing attorney, the caption, names and spellings of the parties, and the reporter will also know who to expect in attendance, including any interpreter that may be necessary.  If this matter is to be in the reporter’s conference room, it also gives them an idea on the size of the room needed.

Now you have arrived for the deposition.  If there is not a videographer present, the court reporter prefers to sit at the end of the conference room table with the witness next to them on one side and the noticing/questioning attorney on the other.  These things do vary depending on the room layout, whether it’s at a doctor’s office, et cetera.  Just be sure that the reporter can see and hear the witness.  What’s that line again? “Nobody puts Baby in the corner.”  Well, you can’t put the reporter in the corner and expect him/her to do their job.

At this point you have introduced yourself, handed the reporter a business card and confirmed they have a notice, and you are ready to proceed.  The reporter will then swear the witness and you will launch with probably an admonition and questions.  In my experience most witnesses are nervous and nervous people tend to speak quickly.  It’s also my experience that most attorneys could recite an admonition in their sleep.  However, usually the witness will follow the lead of the questioning attorney and this can make for a very fast start.  So let’s start off slowly so the reporter can warm up and acclimate to the voices in the room.  Not to worry, though, reporters understand when the questioning becomes intense and speed is part of the strategy to elicit information, but at the beginning it is helpful to take a little time.

Once questioning begins, it is obviously important to not speak over one another, not to mumble, put your hands over your mouth, et cetera.  Court reporters would prefer not to stop you and have you lose your train of thought, but their obligation and duty is to the record.  If the witness has a thick accent or cries or becomes hard to understand, be mindful that the reporter may need it repeated or it may be wise to restate what the witness said in the next question.  At times it takes a team to understand a witness and make the best record.

Is this witness an expert in a specialized field?  Is the testimony technical in nature?  If so, help the reporter to get the spellings and clarifications he/she needs.  We had a client for years who did medical malpractice work.  It was commonplace for him to walk in a deposition with a handwritten list of terms that would likely come up.  Of course I was familiar with these terms and understood them, but it was so helpful to know before the start of the deposition what I could expect and to come up with a one-stroke brief for “coccidioides immitis.” A one-stroke brief is something a court reporter can create by programing their software so when they stroke (or press down) a certain combination of their steno machine keys at the same time, the software interprets it as a specific word or phrase. As a court reporter increases the number of briefs they have, they become more efficient and accurate both during the deposition and in editing the final transcript afterwards.

Just a few things I would like to mention about quoting a document or reciting numbers.  Please slow down and enunciate.  When reading something for the record, most people will speed up.  You may think, well, I will give the reporter this document later and it can be filled in.  We need to report EVERYTHING you say and not guess if you quoted something accurately.  The same goes for numbers.  Numbers can be very challenging for a reporter so be sure to slow down and be clear on what the digits represent: dollars, dates, account numbers.  There is nothing worse than deciding how to write “twelve one fifty.”  Is it 12-1-50 or $12,150 or Account 12150?

Although I have definitely written hours on end in depositions when necessary, it is best for all to take a break at least every two hours.  You may want to consider a shorter period of time between breaks if the subject matter is difficult or the setting is tense.  Of course, you need to pay attention to the reporter’s demeanor as well.  If he/she starts coughing or goes for a drink of water, pause for a moment.  Trust me when I say there is nothing worse for a reporter than trying to subdue a cough and not have a moment to take a drink or grab a lozenge. 

If you plan to introduce exhibits, it is best to bring a copy for the reporter.  If you are at a law office or reporting firm, copies can be made, but copying documents at outside offices may not be possible.  It is best to come with the copies already made.  When presenting an exhibit to a witness, please first set it next to the reporter to be marked before continuing on with the questioning and definitely before marking the next exhibit.  If you hold it up to hand it to the reporter and you keep speaking, the reporter cannot lift her hands from the keyboard.  It may seem obvious, but I would be a rich woman if I received a dollar every time that happened during my career.  Once marked, the reporter will note it as well to keep track of the numbering or lettering.  At the end of the deposition – I suggest at every break – the exhibits are collected and maintained by the reporter.

Reporters report the spoken word and not gestures.  If you have a witness that points to a direction or a body part, be sure to state that for the record.  If before answering a question the witness leans over and whispers to his attorney, the reporter may note an off-the-record discussion, but you may also want to state something along the lines of “Now that you have had an opportunity to confer with counsel…..”

If remarks need to be made that are clearly not for the record, whatever those may be, it is best to go off the record first.  Once reported, and without the agreement of all counsel present, those statements will stay on the record.  You would hate to have some random discussion included in your record that you did not intend.

From a reporter’s point of view, I can tell you that there is no better feeling than working with true professionals that are mindful of the record.  When these practices are used, it makes for a better and more readable transcript.  Reporters are officers of the court and a critical part of the legal profession, and we want to deliver the best transcripts possible.

In closing, I hope this guide and these tips are helpful to not only the new litigator but also perhaps a refresher for the old pro.