I Forgot

Oops! The Court Reporter Didn’t Swear In the Witness

The Court Reporters Board of California periodically receives calls from frazzled court reporters who realize they forgot to swear in the witness, and the deposition had started. I know sometimes when an attorney says, “Let’s go on the record.  I need to make a statement,” and then there is colloquy between counsel, everyone’s timing gets off.  The attorneys make their record, and then one of them says to the witness, “Okay.  State your name for the record.”  And there they go…

But then the court reporter remembers that the witness was never sworn in. What does the court reporter do?  The Court Reporters Board of California has been publishing “Best Practices” for different scenarios and situations that happen at the deposition.  The forgetting of swearing in the witness is one such scenario.

The solution suggested by the CA CRB is as follows:

As soon as the reporter realizes the omission, the best practice is to stop the proceeding and place the witness under oath using an extended oath such as: Do you solemnly state the statements you’ve given and the testimony you’re about to give are the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?” 

If the attorneys want to later argue that there is an issue with the deposition before the witness was sworn, that would be their prerogative. In the meantime, the court reporter has done what is necessary to mitigate the situation.


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Beware Attorneys, Court Reporters, and Legal Videographers “Sitting is the New Smoking”

At a lecture on health by Angel Chelik of Sea Level Workouts, Angel made the statement, “As you’ve probably heard, sitting is the new smoking.”  The audience was made up of court reporters. Angel had everyone’s attention.

Following the lecture, I Googled “Sitting is the new smoking,” and was shocked to find article after article about medical studies and experts writing about the hazards of sitting.

The following are some of the maladies that stem from sitting:

  1. Sitting increases the risk for obesity
  2. Prolonged sitting increases the risk of developing Type II diabetes. Sitting for extended periods of time effects blood sugar levels and insulin in the body.
  3. Frequent sitters are susceptible to muscle issues. (No kidding.)
  4. LPL or lipoprotein lipase is an enzyme that breaks down fat and uses it as energy. When the enzyme is not working as it should, fat is stored.
  5. Sitting makes it more difficult for the “feel-good” hormones to reach the receptors; therefore sitting for long periods of time is associated with a higher risk of developing depression.
  6. Heart disease
  7. Perhaps colon cancer and other types of cancers.

Mayo Clinic endocrinologist, James A. Levine, M.D., made the statement in a recent New York Times article, “Excessive sitting is a lethal activity.” Levine subsequently created the idea of the “treadmill desk.” Mike Miller, NCRA Director, would attest to the benefits of the treadmill desk.

Reading a Pittsburgh Quarterly article, “Is sitting the new smoking,” Marc T. Hamilton, of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center of Baton Rouge, LA, stated, “As soon as we sit, electrical activity in our leg muscles stop, impacting a variety of metabolic pathways influencing heart disease and diabetes. For example, an enzyme that acts like the vacuum cleaner for blood fat is shut off, leading to other effects of on cholesterol metabolism.”

What is disappointing is researchers are finding that the ill effects of prolonged sitting can’t be fixed with a gym workout. “’Even if people meet the current recommendation of 30 minutes of physical activity on most days each week, there may be significant adverse metabolic and health effects from prolonged sitting, concluded the authors of a 2009 editorial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.”

What can we do? Hamilton states, “Any type of brief, yet frequent muscle contraction throughout the day, may be necessary to short-circuit unhealthy molecular signals causing metabolic diseases.”

So what does this mean for court reporters, legal videographers, and attorneys who have to sit through depositions? With the seven-hour rule in place, many depositions last eight to nine hours with a timed seven-hour sit-down. And because the testimony is crucial, and time is of the essence, the breaks are quick. I know I have sat through breaks editing the transcript and replying to emails; thus, I don’t even stand up for four hours at a time.

My goal is to become more disciplined and force myself to stand and walk around the room, do something, during breaks, maybe create an exercise room at the Discovery Conference Centre. When no one is looking I will do some shoulder and open-the-chest exercises. I do notice after getting the blood circulating, when we go back on the record, I write cleaner and faster.

I don’t know of an easy solution for court reporters. Having a standing tripod? That might feel great for a two-hour stint during a deposition or trial. If anyone uses a standing tripod, please let me know what you think. I would suggest that videographers stand occasionally during depositions. I have seen attorneys and witnesses ask for permission to stand during examinations because of back pain, and everyone in the room immediately says, “Please stand whenever you need to. Don’t even ask.” I believe most people who have had any type of back or knee issues could attest that sitting causes discomfort. I know of two judges in San Diego that stand while on the bench.

I wanted to share my research with everyone in my wonderful profession as well as all of the sitters in the legal professions. Let’s all stand up for our bodies. We deserve it!


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Moscow MVC

5 Tips for a Successful International Mobile Videoconference Deposition

Last month a paralegal called Kramm to inquire whether we could set up a Skype-like deposition (mobile videoconference) to depose a witness in Moscow. The attorneys would be in San Diego. The paralegal had questions about the logistics of setting up the deposition, the quality of the video/audio, and cost. The attorneys also needed the video to be captured for trial testimony.

We suggested to the paralegal the following 5 steps would need to take place for a successful mobile videoconference (MVC) deposition:

  1. Kramm would use Cameo II as the MVC platform due to the fact that the attorneys would use our Polycom videoconference equipment in San Diego, and at the Moscow location there would be a computer with a webcam available for the witness. Cameo II allows the interface of a traditional videoconference unit with an iPad/PC/MAC. (Note: Using Cameo II rather than a traditional VC unit in Moscow saved the client hundreds of dollars.)
  2. The witness would need to be in an office or location that had hardwire internet capability. (Note: The witness in Moscow chose to wear a headset to ensure clear audio. A teleconference number was set up as backup if the audio was not sufficient with Cameo II.   The teleconference was not necessary. The Cameo II audio was excellent, which saved the client TC costs.)
  3. Approximately a week before the deposition, the witness was sent the Cameo II link and went to the deposition site in Moscow to run a test with Kramm’s VC unit to troubleshoot any issues that might come up.
  4. Kramm had a legal videographer in San Diego capture the video/audio feed off of the Polycom unit, and whose job was to QC the video/audio to preserve the testimony for trial.
  5. A Russian interpreter was in San Diego. She interpreted the testimony in a consecutive mode (not simultaneous) which allowed accuracy for the syncing of the transcript. (Note: In past MVC depositions wherein the witnesses were in Serbia and China, the interpreter was with the witness. We leave it up to the attorneys to decide where the interpreter should be located.)

I am happy to report the Moscow deposition went perfectly, and the client was thrilled with the result. Using the newest mobile videoconferencing technology, attorneys can save a tremendous amount of time and money. It is not always necessary to fly to a foreign country or even out of state to conduct a deposition or preserve trial testimony. It does take planning and knowledge of the pros and cons of the different MVC products in the marketplace. If you have any questions on mobile videoconferencing, let me know. Finding solutions using technology for our clients is what we do best.


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Business Communication Duplicate model

9 Networking Tips & Tricks = Conventions, Meetings, Conferences

Having belonged to a multitude of state and national court reporting trade associations, as well as being a member of attorney, paralegal and legal secretary associations, I have had the great opportunity of attending receptions, cocktail parties, and events where the objective of the event is to network.

I was in my 20s when I started going to networking events. I remember feeling uncomfortable, a little shy, overwhelmed, and kind of scared that there wouldn’t be anyone to talk to and would look weird standing by myself in a corner. But I kept going because I knew it was important, and I truly wanted to figure out how the world of networking works.

The following are some suggestions for successful networking:

1.  Know your audience and anticipate what they want out of the event.

2.  Are you at an event with colleagues and competitors that want to know how business is going or about new technology that you just discovered and are excited about? Be ready to share information that YOU WANT TO SHARE. Be clear in your mind before you get to the event what is proprietary to your business and what information would be helpful and interesting. Being ready to share interesting information will give people a reason and wish to talk to you.

3.  Are you at an event with clients or potential clients? In my experience, talking about how great my company is or all of the bells and whistles that we have available is totally boring. They want to talk about their business, what they might need help with, who they are as people. Because the court reporting industry is saturated with salespeople and account executives, I have found that many times the moment I mention I own a court reporting firm, attorneys cringe and try to get away. I believe court reporting is the last thing they want to hear about. Sports, weather, and interesting news is a better bet.

4. Are you at an event with businesspeople not related to your particular industry? I believe this is the easiest and most fun group of people to network with. Learning about different businesses, asking businesspeople how they think, make decisions, what their typical day is like is super interesting. Attorneys are lucky. Everyone is a potential client. As a court reporter, I enjoy going to Rotary, Chamber of Commerce meetings with an eye towards knowing people and what they do. Oftentimes, I will meet people that learn I am a court reporter and want to ask me for legal advice or if I know an attorney that does a particular type of litigation or transactional work. There is no better way to network than to refer an attorney client to someone.

5. The key is to listen and always be thinking, “How can I help this person? Who do they need to know? Is there anyone I can introduce her/him to that would be beneficial for all?”

6.  If a person doesn’t want to talk to you, move on, and don’t let your feelings be hurt. I have found many people come to networking events with a specific agenda in mind or to meet a particular person. If they say, “I really want to meet Joe Smith,” and you happen to know Joe Smith, make the introduction. If you just get the vibe they want to move on, excuse yourself and go talk to someone else.

7.  Ways to politely excuse yourself: “It was really great talking to you. I think I am going to go freshen my drink,” or “I need to speak to Ted Smith before he leaves, please excuse me,” or, “It was great talking to you. I hope I see you tomorrow at the seminar,” or, “Do you know Jan Campo? I think it would be great for you two to meet because…” and introduce them.

8.  If you have no one to talk to, find someone else that has no one to talk to. You can go up to them, shake their hand, say your name, and ask, “How long have you been a member,” or, “Where are you from,” or “What seminars look good to you,” or, “Have you tried the shrimp? They’re amazing.” If the person is not interested in talking to you, move on. You can say, “It was nice talking to you. Enjoy the convention.”

9.  If you have a specific agenda or want to be introduced to a person, find someone that knows the person and ask for an introduction. People like to help people connect.

The next time you go to a networking event, know that many of the people there are nervous, probably a little scared, and want to connect. I promise networking is easy, but for some people it takes practice. Don’t waste any opportunity to meet people. I believe networking = success.

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Court Reporter's Deposition Transcript


I have the privilege of working with a new California Certified Shorthand Reporter who passed the exam in November 2014.  She wrote me asking if Kramm had any work we could send to her.  My reply was, yes, but I would proof all of her work until she was ready to work on her own with a professional proofer.

I wonder, what happens to the other court reporters that don’t have someone reading over their transcripts?

Recently, I was reading over another young reporter’s work and was very disappointed in the work product.  There were misspellings, non-words, and confusing punctuation.  When I asked, “Why,” I got the response that that was how she had learned to do things in school, and she proofs her own work to ensure everything is correct, “I don’t trust anyone else doing a good job on my transcripts.”  The response made no sense to me.

I realize that most new CSRs or court reporters have limited funds, and it might seem too expensive to hire someone to proof or scope their work.  I would suggest that all new court reporters, no matter the circumstance, whether working in alliance with a firm or freelancing, need to have someone proof their work.   A good proofer will teach how to handle the nuances of putting the spoken word on paper when it comes to making a transcript.

Paying for a proofer has value.  Young reporters are setting themselves up for the rest of their career.  Being known for clean, usable transcripts has a tremendous value.  Being known for sloppy, poor transcripts might haunt you the rest of your life.

Finding a smart scopist/proofer is important.  I believe a retired court reporter would be a good choice, because the experienced court reporter could make suggestions on globals and format.  I see many reporters asking for help on format and punctuation on Facebook.  The problem with Facebook is there can be a myriad of errors that a new reporter wouldn’t know they need to address, and some of the advice might be correct in one geographical area, but wrong in another.

Approximately 10 percent of court reporting students pass the qualifying exams that allow them to practice, and  schools teach and test punctuation, but in the real world, people sometimes speak in an “interesting” way, and weird scenarios happen all of the time when creating a transcript.  Turning out beautiful transcripts is what makes our profession so respected and great.

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IME image-01

Court Reporters – Four Tips on What to Expect at an I.M.E.

Attorneys need Individual Medical Examinations to be reported and certified from time to time.  An Independent Medical Examination is conducted by a doctor, chiropractor or physical therapist who has not previously been involved in a person’s care and examines the individual.  There is no doctor, chiropractor, physical therapist relationship.

The following are some tips that I would give a court reporter reporting their first I.M.E.:

  1. Arrive at least 30 minutes early. Upon occasion the examiner will not know a court reporter is scheduled to be present. Arriving early allows for time to ensure everyone is on the same page and in agreement that the examination will be stenographically recorded.
  2. Anticipate having no table or place to put your computer. I oftentimes will use my steno or computer bag as a little table.
  3. A best practice is to print timestamps on the final transcript to allow counsel to know how long each segment of the examination lasted.
  4. Don’t worry about the value of the transcript as far as the doctor or patient describing for the record what is being demonstrated. The transcript may read, “Turn left. Turn right.  Lift your foot.” Just write what is said and don’t think you need to interject because the examiner is not making a good record.

Reporting an I.M.E. is not complicated, but it is helpful to know what the court reporter can expect.


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2025.520(c) – What Happens if the Witness Can’t Get to the Court Reporter’s Office?

There are two methods for reading, correcting and signing deposition transcripts in California.

Method #1:  At the conclusion of a deposition in California, the deposition officer shall send written notice to the deponent and to all parties attending the deposition when the written transcript is available for reading, correcting, and signing, unless the deponent and the attending parties agree on the record to waive signature.  The witness has 30 days following the notice that the deposition is ready for reading, correcting and signing, or a longer or shorter period if the parties agree in writing or on the record.  The original will remain at the court reporter’s office available for the read/sign.

Because of the logistical issues in having a witness go to a court reporter’s office, language was added to the California CCP, which allows for:

Method #2:  2025.520(c):  Alternatively, within this same period, the deponent may change the form or the substance of the answer to any question and may approve or refuse to approve the transcript by means of a letter to the deposition officer signed by the deponent which is mailed by certified or registered mail with return receipt requested.  A copy of that letter shall be sent by first-class mail to all parties attending the deposition.

This alternative language allows the witness to purchase a Certified Copy and then write out any corrections on an errata sheet or in a letter format, which solves the inconvenience of having to drive to a court reporter’s office to read, correct, and sign the original.

When a court reporter is asked to send the original out to the witness or the witness’ counsel for the read/sign, and the argument is presented that it would be too far for the deponent to travel to get to the court reporter’s office, 2025.520(c) can be cited as a method to resolve the issue.

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What is CART?

Perhaps you’ve heard of CART captioning but you don’t really understand what it is. You are not alone. I once had a prospective client call me, wondering how much room the CART took up! That brought a smile to my face, because I am the CART. She thought I would wheel in a device on a cart that would magically provide instant speech-to-text service. That day has not yet arrived, despite much progress in voice recognition. In order to produce accurate speech-to-text of multiple speakers at high speeds, it takes a person – a CART captioner.

CART – communication access realtime translation – is realtime speech-to-text provided by a CART captioner (stenographer) using a stenograph machine, computer, and special software. Like a court reporter, a CART captioner can write at high speeds, capturing what people say, and turning it into instant text via special software. One way I like to contrast court reporting from CART captioning is by explaining that while court reporters must write verbatim, they do not have to be 100% accurate because they have the opportunity to edit and correct their transcripts. CART captioners, in contrast, do not need to write 100% verbatim, but what we write must be highly accurate and accurately reflect what is being said, no matter how arcane the language, thick the accent, or foreign the name.

CART captioners use much of the same equipment as court reporters, including similar software. However, we must refine our writing and our dictionaries (computer files that translate steno outlines into English words and phrases as well as computer macros) in order to meet the demands of having to accurately reflect unexpected names, terms, formulas, and environmental sounds.

CART captioners develop special skills in order to meet this challenge. Like sign language interpreters, we “finger-spell,” using specially developed steno outlines that are defined as letters that abut one another in order to build an unusual word or name letter by letter. Because we are acting as “ears” for our clients, hearing and writing what they are unable to hear, we must be able to accurately indicate whatever environmental sounds occur, such as a telephone ringing, siren sounding, or dog barking. Unlike court reporters, who are limited to reporting only what is on the record, CART captioners must write whatever is said within the hearing range of the CART consumer.

There is a special code of ethics related to CART captioning as well – taking care not to reveal the name of a deaf or hard-of-hearing client, being sure not to interject oneself into communication except in order to carry out our work, and, importantly, treating the CART captioning file (transcript) as the property of the presenter or our client.

CART captioning is a diverse field that covers all types of events: classroom work – both on site and remote – conferences, meetings, litigation, and broadcast. Maybe CART is in your future.

written by Laura Brewer, CA CSR #5651, RPR, CRR, CBC, CCP, RMR, RDR, CCRR, CSR www.quicktext.com


BEWARE – Witnesses Unintentionally Waive Right to Read/Sign at their Deposition

Under Federal Rule 30, Depositions by Oral Examination, the court reporter has an obligation to certify not only that the witness was duly sworn and that the deposition accurately records the witness’ testimony, but also the court reporter must note in the certificate whether a review was requested and, if so, must attach any changes the deponent makes during the 30-day period.

According to Rule 30(e)(1), On request by the deponent or a party before the deposition is completed, the deponent must be allowed 30 days after being notified by the officer that the transcript is available in which:

  • To review the transcript
  • If there are any changes in form or substance, to sign a statement listing the changes and the reasons for the change

The key phrase that the court reporter has to respond to is, “On request by the deponent or a party before the deposition is completed.” If the witness and/or their counsel does NOT request read/sign before the deposition is completed, unless the court orders otherwise, the officer must seal the deposition in an envelope or package bearing the title of the action and marked, “Deposition of {witness’ name} and must promptly send it to the attorney who arranged for the transcript. Therefore, the review of the transcript and ability to make changes is waived.


The following is sample certificate language for court reporters to use for Federal cases:

I, Rosalie A. Kramm, Certified Shorthand Reporter licensed in the State of California, License No. 5469, hereby certify that the deponent was by me first duly sworn, and the foregoing testimony was reported by me and was thereafter transcribed with computer-aided transcription; that the foregoing is a full, complete, and true record of said proceedings.

I further certify that I am not of counsel or attorney for either of any of the parties in the foregoing proceeding and caption named or in any way interested in the outcome of the cause in said caption.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this day:

_______ Reading and Signing was requested.

_______ Reading and Signing was waived.

_______ Reading and signing was not requested.



STAR Board 2014

Great Court Reporters – Use Your Trade Associations for Success

Once a court reporter is licensed, a decision needs to be made: “Do I go work in court? Do I want to work in a freelance setting and report depositions? Is it possible to do both?” There are many factors that would go into the decision. New licensees would ask themselves, “Am I the type of person that likes to go to the same place every day, or am I the type of person that wants to have a flexible schedule and never know where I might end up on any given day?”   In many California jurisdictions, with the layoffs of the civil court reporters, reporters can become a hybrid and work in court and in the deposition setting. I believe the same is true in Florida.

I believe new reporters (and seasoned reporters) are incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to work in both settings and test where they are more comfortable and would be happiest. The key to success for a new licensee is training and support. It can be tough to find teachers, mentors, and cheerleaders, people that would encourage a new reporter to go for it. Joining court reporting trade associations is a fantastic way for new reporters to get what they need when starting out in the profession. In California reporters have the option of belonging to the Deposition Reporters Association (DRA) and/or the California Court Reporters Association (CCRA). Via Facebook I saw the wonderful Mike Miller, Depoman, in Ohio last week. Looking from the outside in, the Ohio State Association seems like a fun association. Florida, Virginia, Texas, and Washington also have marvelous associations with high-energy smart people that give energy.

NCRA has put together programs such as TRAIN, Taking Realtime Awareness and Innovation Nationwide, to teach, mentor and cheerlead reporters who want to do realtime. STAR, the Society for the Technological Advancement of Reporting, is a brilliant place for not only CaseCat writers, but all court reporters wanting to learn more about technology and mureet other like-minded people whom are excited to be court reporters. I am a past president of STAR, and I am an Eclipse writer.

One thing I see happening to some seasoned reporters is a lack of energy or excitement about being a great court reporter, and that gets in the way of success. Old machines, outdated CAT software, and not participating in continuing education opportunities will never work if you want to be successful.

Our profession, both in the court and freelance fields, needs great court reporters. I would suggest all reporters, new or seasoned, to reach out and find the teachers, mentors, and cheerleaders you need to be GREAT! After all, this is the best profession ever.

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