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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.

Oxytocin Battles Stress

Three Things I Hate: Stress, Rejection, Worrying – Part 1 Stress

I’m not a social psychologist, but I know how to research a subject on the internet,
and I decided to learn about what the experts say about three things I hate, but are
a huge part of my daily life, feeling stressed, dealing with rejection, and worrying.

My first article in this series will deal with stress.

Part 1 – Stress

Stress is defined as “changes our body and mind experience in response to a
continually changing environment, something you can’t control; for example, traffic.
You can’t control traffic; you can control attorneys talking at the same time or too
fast to a certain extent, but a full day of telling people to talk one at a time is
stressful, and often the court reporter doesn’t have control.

What I discovered in my research is if we adjust ourselves to different circumstances,
stress can actually help us, or hinder us, depending on how we react to it.  When we are
stressed we secrete cortisol/adrenaline, fear or flight hormones.  As a working court
reporter and firm owner, I have relied on adrenaline to write faster and get things done.
I felt being “hyped up” was the way to be most effective.  I start with a double
cappuccino every morning to get my adrenal glands pumping.  But after 40 years, my energy
level is not as strong, and as a consequence I have hypothyroidism and have to take
Synthroid medication.

But, in my research, I learned about a relatively new scientific fact that is incredibly
great.  Oxytocin, the “love hormone” can physiologically battle the harmful effects of stress,
and it is pumped out simultaneously with adrenaline.

What scientists used to believe is oxytocin would only be produced by a mother breastfeeding
her child to help bond with her child.

Physiologically, when we are stressed our arteries get tighter.  Our heart beats faster, We
start breathing more, getting oxygen into our blood cells, which is a good thing, but that
tightening of the arteries is what’s really dangerous.  Oxytocin actually widens the
arteries allowing more blood flow.

The question is:  How do you get oxytocin to secrete in your body? Have you ever noticed when
you are stressed you want to reach out to a friend, confidante, someone you can talk to and
connect with?  When you do connect, you pump out oxytocin.

Personally, when I am stressed out about work or life in general, I look to talk to my husband
or trusted friends.  Just talking dissipates the “flight or fright” feeling.

The lesson is when you are stressed out, talk to a friend and connect – pump out your oxytocin.
Your arteries will open up, and your body will thank you.  Oxytocin = resilience.

Advice from the experts:  Think of your adrenals as a built-in pump, something that gets you
going when you feel that adrenaline rush.  Stop saying, “I am stressed,” but think of yourself as
being in a situation that is giving you stress.  It’s not you.  It’s not your body.  It’s the
situation.  Be curious.  Ask, “Why every single time I am in this situation I get so stressed
out?”  And start your oxytocin pump.

 

Twitter: @rosaliekramm

Court Reporters = Stamina

5 Tips for Building Mental Stamina (Attorneys, Paralegals, Court Reporters)

Great attorneys, court reporters, videographers, and paralegals all perform in their jobs at the highest level and can get far on their raw ability, but as Robert E. Corb, Ph.D, the Director of Sports Psychology Program at UCLA in the article “5 Tips for Building Mental Stamina” points out, “What separates the truly elite from the rest is that they know how to use their minds.”

Professionals in the legal field need mental stamina to deal with quick deadlines, expedites, and many hours of focused inquiry and writing.  Corb suggests the following tips to build mental stamina:

1. Think Positively:  “Self-confidence is the most important mental characteristic that athletes (legal professionals) need,” says Corb.  We’ve all seen highly-skilled athletes who    lose their self-confidence fall apart.

How do you get more self-confidence?  Corb urges people to listen to what they’re telling themselves.  “If you keep saying, ‘I’ll never be able to do this,’” before a speed test or jury trial, “then you won’t be able to do it. If you say something enough to yourself, you’ll make it come true.”

I think we all have heard the advice, “act as if.”  The experts suggest that you replace the negative thoughts with positive thoughts on a conscious level, and in time interrupting    the negative thoughts and replacing them with positive ones will have a real effect on what you want to succeed at.

2. Use Visualization: “Some athletes use visualization right before a game to practice mentally,” says David Geier, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon and Director of Sports Medicine at the   Medical University of South Carolina.  “A basketball player might close her eyes and think what a free throw will look like.”  Visualization can give you a mental space to rehearse.
Corb also says, “I tell people to visualize past achievements.  It’s almost like a highlight reel that you play back in your mind.  Focus on times you felt really good, and remember  that feeling.  It can give you a real boost.”

3. Plan for Setbacks:  As an attorney you might lose a client, and as a court reporter in school you might not pass a speed test you thought you were ready for.  These things happen.   Corb suggests, “One of the things that separates elite athletes is their ability to hold up after a setback.  They don’t spiral out of control.”  How can you regain your confidence  when things go wrong?  “You need to practice techniques to re-center yourself,” Corb says.  Athletes use different methods to become re-centered:  a sequence of stretches, a  positive mantra they repeat to themselves, a specific song they play in their head or iPod; 30 seconds of deep breathing. The experts say to have a plan in place so you know what to  do when the pressure mounts.

4. Manage Stress:  “Not all stress is bad,” says Geier.  “The fight or flight response can push you harder during an athletic competition.”  Corb points out, “Positive stress  (excitement) and negative stress (anxiety) really have the same physical effects.  Your heart rate and breathing go up.  Your pupils dilate.”  Use excitement to get amped up, but if  it is tipping you into panic, that’s bad.  It is up to you how you interpret the “stress.”
5. Sleep More:  Studies have shown that getting enough sleep can improve reaction time and split second decision making.  (7 to 9 hours a night is the goal.)
Develop a Plan to Build Your Mental Stamina

Mental stamina is a skill.  Building your mental stamina takes practice, and the experts say to have a plan.  Building mental stamina will have a tremendous benefit for your life.

 

@rosaliekramm  (Twitter)

Kramm Court Reporting (Facebook)

Important Documents

How Long Do We Have to Save Important Documents?

I was reading a great article put out by Consumer Reports on how long and why certain documents need to be kept and thought it would be beneficial to court reporters, attorneys, all legal professionals.  It is suggested that you categorize your documents in four ways:  Papers you need to keep for a calendar year or less; papers you can destroy when you no longer own the item; tax records; papers you need indefinitely.

Category 1 – Papers to Keep for the current calendar year (or less):

1.  ATM, credit card, and bank deposit receipts – reconcile with monthly statement and then shred
2.  Keep insurance policies and investment statements until new ones arrive

Category 2 – Papers to keep for a year or more:

1.  Keep loan documents until the loan is paid off
2.  Hold onto vehicle titles until the vehicle is sold
3.  For stocks/bonds, keep investment purchase confirmation until you sell the investment unless that info appears on your statement (in order to establish your cost basis and holding period).
4.  Receipts for home improvement (help offset capital gain taxes when the property is sold)

Category 3 – Taxes:

1.  Keep records seven years.  (If you fail to report more than 25 percent of your gross income on your taxes, the IRS has six years to collect from you.)

Category 4 – Papers to keep indefinitely

1.  Military discharge papers
2.  Birth certificate
3.  Estate planning documents
4.  Life insurance policies
5.  Social security card
6.  Marriage certificate
7.  Inventory of your bank deposit box

Michelle Crouch, Personal Financial Writer states, “The IRS considers electronic documents as good as paper. Just make sure you encrypt the files and store backup copies on a USB flash drive, a CD, a DVD, a portable hard drive or with a web-based storage service.

Tanza Loudenback, Business Insider writes, “Anything with an original signature or a raised seal needs to be kept in its original condition:

  • Birth certificates
  • Citizenship papers
  • Custody agreement
  • Deeds and titles
  • Divorce certificate
  • Loan/mortgage paperwork
  • Major debt repayment records
  • Marriage license
  • Military records
  • Passport
  • Powers of attorney
  • Stock certificates
  • Wills and living wills

One of my personal goals for 2018 is being more organized than ever, and knowing what documents I need to physically keep, what I am allowed to save in an electronic format , and what I can throw away eases my mind so that I don’t worry about not doing the right thing in saving important papers.

 

Arbitration conference room - Kramm Court Reporting

11 TASKS THAT PARALEGALS CAN DELEGATE TO COURT REPORTING FIRM

Paralegals oftentimes are the engine that keeps a law firm running.  They are incredibly efficient with time, resources, and know how to delegate
important tasks that need to be done correctly in an expedited manner.  Kramm Court Reporting looks for opportunities to support our paralegal clients.

Below are 11 of the most common tasks that paralegals can rely on a court reporting firm to complete:

1. Find and reserve a conference room anywhere worldwide

2. Set up interpreters

3. Recommend process servers in the area to process deposition subpoenas

4. Provide a common calendar for parties including location, witness name, time, noticing party

5. Organize exhibits and pre-assign exhibit numbers for cases with multi-track depositions

6. Arrange for videographers and the syncing of transcripts

7. Provide suggested language for notices to include video and real-time transcription

8. Archive errata sheets of witnesses’ changes and signature

9. Set up mobile videoconference (MVC) depositions/trial testimony worldwide

10. Set up teleconference depositions with access numbers supplied to all parties

11. Coordinate standing orders of rough drafts, real-time with iPads, synced transcripts, et cetera

It is a pleasure to support our clients and help paralegals coordinate deposition services.  If you would like to learn more about setting up
a mobile videoconference or best practices for teleconference depositions, please read our articles found below or contact me, Rosalie@kramm.com.

Tricks and Tips for Telephonic Depositions

Five Tips for Successful International Mobile Videoconference Depositions

How Paralegals and Legal Secretaries Can Benefit From Having Exhibits in the Cloud

Tips for Videoconferencing Depositions and Trial Testimony

Sample Notice Language for Video and Real-Time Depositions

 

@rosaliekramm  (Twitter)

Kramm Court Reporting (Facebook)

Deposition Arbitration Room

ATTORNEYS – 8 ADMONITIONS FOR DEPOSITIONS

As a court reporter, I have sat through thousands of depositions and heard thousands of variances on the admonitions attorneys give the witness at the beginning of a deposition.  Many attorneys have a checklist that they use so as to not forget any particular admonition.  These eight admonitions are the most common:
1. All testimony is under oath just as if the witness were testifying in a court of law.  Penalty of perjury laws apply.

2. Answers need to be audible, no shakes of the head, shoulder shrugs.  “Uh-huh” and “huh-huh” are difficult to interpret in a written form.

3. Witnesses may estimate, should not guess.  (Example:  How much change is in my pocket? = Guess.  How much change is in your pocket? = Estimate)

4. Everything that is said is being taken down by the court reporter verbatim, unless everyone agrees to go off the record.

5. You will have an opportunity to read/sign the deposition transcript and make corrections you believe are necessary.

6. Allow question and any objections to be stated before you speak.  The court reporter cannot take down more than one person speaking at the same time.  Otherwise, the record will be jumbled, and the questions and answers will be disjointed.   Pause before answering so counsel have a chance to object to a question.

7. Objections are for the record.  Unless your counsel instructs you not to answer, you are to answer.  The judge will later decide what questions and answers will be allowed in future proceedings.

8. Breaks are allowed.

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Admonitions that might bring objections or waive Federal Code provision:

1. You must answer a question that is pending before being allowed to take a break.

2. You will have a chance later to read/sign transcript; but if changes are made, and they are substantive, that can reflect poorly at trial on your being truthful while at the deposition.  (Court reporters are taught that if this admonition is given in a deposition that falls within the Federal Rules, Rule 30 comes into play, and the witness will have the right to read/sign.)

In another related article, we discuss Witnesses Unintentionally Waive Right to Read/Sign Under Federal Rules.

 

@rosaliekramm  (Twitter)

Kramm Court Reporting (Facebook)

 

Kramm accepts Aurelio Altruism Award at NCRA annual convention

Rosalie Kramm Receives 2017 Santo J. Aurelio Award for Altruism

The National Court Reporters Foundation recognized long-time NCRA member Rosalie Kramm, RPR, CRR, San Diego, Calif., with the 2017 Santo J. Aurelio Award for Altruism. The award was presented to Kramm during the Awards Luncheon on Aug. 12 at the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo, held in Las Vegas, Nev.

The Santo J. Aurelio Award is given to a working court reporter with more than 25 years of experience who has given back to the profession and to the court reporting community with no expectation of any reward.  “Having the respect of my peers and colleagues means so much to me.  I love my profession,” Kramm stated.

Kramm began her career as a court reporter in 1981 working for Robinson & Vint Court Reporters. In 1985, she opened Kramm Court Reporting. According to comments submitted by those who nominated her, Kramm is regarded in the profession for her professionalism, willingness to help, and love of promoting the profession.

Press Release – NCRA

 

Deposition Arbitration Room

TIPS FOR TELEPHONIC DEPOSITIONS FOR ATTORNEYS & COURT REPORTERS

Everyone is looking for opportunities to save costs these days in litigation. Many attorneys are choosing to take depositions telephonically so as to not incur travel costs and to save travel time.  Here are some ideas on how to make the telephonic deposition go smoothly.

  1. Have the court reporter with the witness. The reporter is able to swear in the witness and hear every word. As everyone knows, with teleconferences, if two people speak at the same time or there is any type of line interference, it is hard to hear or understand. Having the reporter with the witness ensures a better record.
  2. Advice to court reporters (especially if there are multiple people on the line): Rather than writing down each person’s information, including address and phone number(s), just get the attorney’s full name and website. It is much easier to look up the attorneys and create your appearance page(s) from a website than from scribbling down information over a phone.
  3. Court reporters, speak up if you are not understanding something, can’t hear, or don’t know who is speaking. Before the deposition starts, make a statement, for example, “Please identify yourself before you speak. There are multiple voices, and it is difficult to differentiate between them.” If someone starts speaking, and you are not sure who it is, you may interrupt with, “Excuse me. Who is speaking?” After a while, people will get the hang of it.
  4. Attorneys, if your court reporter interrupts, as discussed above, please be patient and understanding. They are not, in any way, trying to disrupt you. They are only trying to do produce the best record they can of the deposition.
  5. Court reporters, if possible, get a service list before the deposition begins and start inputting your appearance page or get a copy and check off names. You will need to know who the different participants represent. Once again, it is often difficult to get that kind of information with spellings over the phone.
  6. Court reporters, if the firm you are working with agrees and/or if you don’t mind giving out your personal email, give the participants your email address and ask the participants to email you who they represent.
  7. Be confident, court reporter. Nobody enjoys doing a telephonic deposition (or at least most people don’t). If you are polite, organized, and ready for action, your day may turn out to be one of the best ever!

In another related article, we discuss What Attorneys Need to Know When Using a Realtime Court Reporter.

 

@rosaliekramm  (Twitter)

Kramm Court Reporting (Facebook)

Avoid Cyber Attacks

Law Firms Beware – Ransomware: 9 Tips to Avoid Cyber Attack

Upon listening to a panel of cybersecurity experts, I came to the conclusion that law firms and court reporting firms are vulnerable to the most prevalent cyber attack, ransomware.  Ransomware is defined as “a type of malicious software that is designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid.” Many times, the currency used to pay the ransom is Bitcoin.

Advice given by the experts includes these 9 tips to avoid a ransomware cyber attack:

1. Regularly update your Windows, Mac, Linus software especially when the update is security related.

2. Install antivirus software and keep it up-to-date to block emerging malware.

3. Be wary of suspicious emails and pop-ups.  What is suspicious?

  • Look at email address of the sender to see if it is coming from a legitimate email.
  • Look for obvious typos and grammatical errors in the body of the email.
  • Hover over hyperlinks and see if it would direct you to a suspicious web page.
  • Banks, doctors, the IRS will never ask you to send sensitive information like your SS number.

4. Often pop-ups windows that advertise software products that remove malware have ransomware in the pop-up ready to attack.  Don’t click through to learn more or download these products.

5. If you are a victim of ransomware, immediately disconnect your computer from the internet, and then report the crime to law enforcement.  Seek help from a technology professional who specializes in data recovery to see what your options might be.

6. Look into purchasing cybersecurity insurance.

7. If you are storing your data offsite with a third-party vendor (colo site), ask them if they have cybersecurity insurance.  (The answer should be yes.)  Ask your vendor to add your firm as an additional insured on the policy.

8. Educate your personnel on not opening suspicious emails or pop-ups, “But the dancing bunny was so cute… I clicked on it.”

9. Don’t allow personnel to check personal email from their workstation or have their smart phone, personal computer, or other devices connected to their workstation.

Along with following these above steps in our offices, Kramm Court Reporting has taken steps to protect sensitive data that we have online including having our Case 24/7 repository be SSA 16 compliant and having our backup locations encrypted over VPNs, and SSL certificates are used. If you are one of our clients, you can be assured that we have proactively done and continue to do everything we can to protect your information from these attacks.

In another related article, we discuss How Paralegals + Legal Assistants Can Benefit from Court Reporting Technology in the Cloud.

 

@rosaliekramm  (Twitter)

Kramm Court Reporting (Facebook)

Court Reporters - Be Careful with Windows 10 Updates

Court Reporters – WARNING – Windows 10 Updates

One of the great court reporters we work with who is on StenoCat had a HORRIBLE experience setting up in court this week and sent the following alert:

“New Windows update could possibly wreak havoc on your computer settings.

“My computer updated last night, and this morning all my drivers were erased, my Bluetooth was disabled, my software key would not work, and all my COM ports were missing from my Device Manager.

“Also, because that wasn’t enough, my SD card on my writer was “bad” and would not save any new jobs so writing on it and transferring the notes to the computer later was not an option.

“Obviously my writer issue had nothing to do with the Windows update, but it happened all on the same day. Complete system fail.

“While our office staff scrambled to find another reporter to cover my job, I re-loaded my software, my drivers, and somehow managed to get it working in 20 minutes.  I had to write without a dictionary so my tran rate was a big fat zero, and my screen was all red.

“I’ve now reconfigured everything and all is well.

“After you install this latest update, set everything up and test it before you go to a job.  It was probably just a weird thing on my end, but it was super stressful and I want to save you all from living this nightmare.”

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From my experience, the best way to handle this problem is to turn off Windows updates.  This is the process according to my Google search:

1.  Click Computer Configuration.

2. Click Policies

3. Click Administrative Templates

4. Click Windows Component

5. Click Windows Update

6. Double click Turn off the upgrade to the latest version of Windows through Windows Update

7.  Click Enable.

Microsoft has made it extremely difficult to stop the updates in Windows 10.  If you can choose to never install updates or you decide when and if you wish to install an update, that is your best bet, in my opinion.

 

@rosaliekramm  (Twitter)

Kramm Court Reporting (Facebook)