What your court reporter appreciates..

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     Court reporters are brought in to a legal proceeding or convention to make a record of everything that is said. This eliminates the need for people to take notes, and can settle any later disputes about who said what. The court reporter uses a stenotype machine to take down conversations syllable by syllable. If the client wants a written transcript, the court reporter uses a computer software program to translate the stenography into English. They use speaker identification and parenthetical asides to assist the person reading the transcript in following the proceedings. Most people are unfamiliar with court reporters unless they are in the legal profession. They do not realize they are making the court stenographer's job more difficult at times. Here are five tips people can use to help court reporters make an accurate record of their proceedings.

     In a courtroom, witnesses should state their full legal name slowly and spell it. This ensures it will appear correctly in the record. Refusing to give it or spell it will only mean the stenographer will have to do more legwork to discover it; not that it won't be used. All attorneys should give their business cards to the court reporter or take a moment before the proceedings to identify themselves and their firm, including address and telephone number. Contact information is crucial. At a convention, public hearing or deposition when there are multiple people present, each speaker should state their name before talking regardless of how often they interject. When participating by telephone with other people, this is even more important. Some voices sound very similar. It may be difficult for the stenographer to correctly identify which speaker is which without a little assistance.

     Speak clearly and loudly. Enunciate, don't mumble. If there is a microphone, use it. Do not eat or chew gum while talking. Keep the hands away from the mouth. If someone is asked by the court reporter to repeat themselves, they should reiterate verbatim what they just said. This is not a request for an explanation, but a verification of syllables that did not sound right or were missed entirely. Being asked to slow down while speaking is not a badge of honor, but a sign that someone is making it harder to take down an accurate record.

Only one speaker can be taken down at a time. Do not interrupt another person while they are talking. While interrupting others is acceptable in normal, everyday conversation, it is not when a record is being taken. During telephone depositions or testimony, pause a moment after the other party is finished talking. The speakerphone may have a slight delay and cut off the beginning of what the next person says.