A common topic at court reporting conferences around the country is attorney consciousness and how attorneys seem to be less aware or even care about the record than in the past; that there are two types of attorneys, attorneys who are conscious of the record and attorneys who are not. I believe all attorneys want and need a good record, but many are not aware of what is happening while a deposition is taking place and get caught up in the moment, wanting to fulfill their mission to get testimony as advocates for their cause.
Conscious attorneys are mindful of each word. Their questions are grammatically correct, don’t contain double negatives, and are a full and complete thought. When attorneys interrupt the witness or allow the witness to interrupt them, or there is constant talking at the same time, and there is a series of incomplete questions and answers, later on if that deposition testimony is read or shown to a judge and jury, it is going to be confusing. Recently I have heard anecdotal stories by reporters saying that they will ask for people to speak one at a time and are told to just deal with it, “You can fix it later.”
As a way to learn how to make a clean record, I suggest to young attorneys that they request a real-time court reporter for a deposition or two (or more if the budget allows). It does cost more to have a real-time court reporter, but it is a great way to watch the record unfold, have a chance to pause, and actually read the record to ensure you have what you need with a clean question and answer.
Seasoned, successful attorneys typically make a beautiful record. It is a joy to report attorneys who are conscious of the record.
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