Deposition by Written Question

Consequences to Tearing Apart the Original Deposition Transcript

In Southern California many of the attorneys recite at the end of a deposition what is known as the “SoCal stip,” which is a stipulation that the noticing attorney agrees the court reporter will send the witness’ attorney the original transcript for reading/signing, and the witness’ attorney is tasked with maintaining the original and bringing it to court for trial.   (Nowhere else in the USA does this practice happen.)

Kramm Court Reporting uses VeloBind to bind transcripts, a method that punches tiny holes along the spine of the transcript, plastic strips are inserted, and then the VeloBind machine uses heat to melt the plastic so that there is a strong bind, and it is difficult to pull the transcript apart.

Last week I received a call from an attorney demanding that we re-bind an original transcript. I asked him who tore it apart. He replied that his firm did so that they could scan and OCR the transcript since they did not wish to purchase a Certified Copy from the court reporter.

I told him that it would be improper under the California Code of Civil Procedure for us to re-bind an original that had been torn apart. He asked why? I replied that we wouldn’t be able to certify a transcript that was taken apart. He asked why again.  I gave him the hypothetical that perhaps his firm might have changed some of the testimony, added or deleted something.

Then he said, “Why would we do that? It was our client’s testimony.”

I replied, “Maybe you didn’t like your client’s testimony.”

He wanted my full name so he could report me.

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Bottom line: Court reporters, don’t be intimidated or acquiesce when someone asks or demands that you put together an original transcript after it was taken apart.  Attorneys do stipulate away the original to allow for easier read/sign, but no part of that stipulation gives anyone permission to tear apart the transcript. Once a transcript has been dismantled, the liability of the torn-apart transcript falls upon the person’s shoulders who took it apart.  That person can tell the judge what happened and suffer the consequences.

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