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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.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

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 and Golfers practice for perfection.

COURT REPORTERS – How to Write SUPER FAST with Stress

I was reading a fantastic article in the Wall Street Journal about Francesco Molinari’s win at the British Open Golf Championship, “The Uncomfortable Practice Habits of a Champion,” and immediately thought about court reporters and particularly court reporting students.

The article, by Brian Costa, talks about how in past years Molinari would practice hitting balls on the driving range, hitting perfect shots, was always considered a top golfer, but never made the cut. Molinari was frustrated and decided to hire Dave Alred, a soccer/rugby sports psychologist. Alred wrote the book, “The Pressure Principle.” He advises athletes (court reporters) “you need to add stress to sometimes otherwise mindless practice shots” (speed tapes).

Golfers in many ways are like court reporters. They practice at their own speed, improve at their own pace, and don’t require teammates to make them successful. Becoming a great golfer takes hundreds of hours of practice and a special talent that only certain people are born with. Court reporters learn their theory and then spend hundreds of hours practicing for speed and accuracy, many hours alone only motivated by their strong desire to be great (or pass a speed test).

When Alred was hired by Molinari, Alred asked, “Do you want to be comfortable, or do you want to be ready?” As a court reporter, I know that I can write clean and fast when everyone is speaking clearly with a consistent cadence. But when it is time to pass the CSR, CRR, RMR… even though the speakers are speaking clearly and with a consistent cadence, nerves set in, and the writing becomes a challenge.

Costa writes, “Molinari went on to win the British Open with a stellar short game and almost robotically steady play on a volatile leaderboard. But his ascent to become the first Italian to win a major championship is rooted partly in a change he made only to the past two years. It wasn’t in the way he swung. It was the way he practiced.”

Costa goes on, “At their first session together, at the Riviera Country Club outside Los Angeles, was a preview of how things were about to change. Alred had Molinari practice a tricky flop shot on a downhill lie and asked him to keep hitting it until he had stopped five balls within 3 feet of the hole. It took him 48 tries.”   Alred made Molinari practice at a high frustration level

Another sports psychologist, Cordie Walker says, “We want to have learning environments that foster skills that are retained on the golf course.” (Speed test.) “Desirable difficulty,” a term coined by cognitive psychologist Robert Bjork argues that introducing a certain degree of challenge to the learning process boosts long-term retention.

The bottom line is the experts believe that practicing just for the sake of practice is not good enough. Practice needs to be intense and even uncomfortable. I am thinking it would be good to practice at quick bursts of speeds beyond my capability, slowing down to write sustained complex material, and then have another speed burst. That would be very tiring for my brain, but perhaps a beneficial exercise for increasing speed and accuracy.

I found the article about Molinari to be inspiring. I want to be better. Pushing out of our comfort zone will make us better than ever!

 

@rosaliekramm  (Twitter)

Kramm Court Reporting (Facebook)

 

Setting Goals and Winning

7 Tips for Achieving Your Goals – Attorneys, Paralegals, Court Reporters

I have found reading different experts’ opinions on how to achieve goals to be extremely helpful in not only my writing steno as a court reporter, but in running my business.  The San Diego Union Tribune published one of the best articles I have ever read under their “SUCCESS” column, “Getting to the Goal,” by Marcel Schwantes.

Schwantes cites research performed at the University of Scranton which found that 92 percent of people who set New Year’s goals never achieve them.  Not achieving goals that you mindfully made and set out to achieve, only to fail, is disheartening.  The question is, what do the 8 percent of people who do achieve their goals do differently?

Schwantes’ 7 Tips:

1. Begin with the end in mind.  Write out your goal and then create a roadmap on how to achieve the goal including the sub-goals you need to achieve and the resources that will get you there.

2. Build a support system around you.  Build a network of experts who care about your success in reaching your goals, including friends and colleagues.  Super successful people surround themselves with mentors, coaches, and other successful people in different industries that are like-minded and have a similar desire for greatness.

3. Set specific and challenging goals.  Researchers Edwin Locke and Gary Latham found that when people set specific and challenging goals, it led to higher performance.  For example, if you want to lose 25 pounds by the end of the year, maybe in September you will go on a sugar-free diet for 10 days and in October train to run a 10-K in November.  With clarity, you have a better chance of success.

4. Recognize when you are procrastinating.  Schwantes suggests:  A) Have clearly prioritized to-do lists, schedules, and time frames.  B) Work back from your deadlines to know how long you need and when to get started so you don’t finish late.  C) Focus on one task at a time.

5. Practice the 52 and 17 Rule.  Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness, co-authors of “Peak Performers,” found that adopting the rule of 52 minutes of work and 17 minutes of rest creates an environment for peak performance.

6. Listen to music for focus.  I love this one, and I believe it is absolutely true.  Schwantes suggests the key is to experiment first and find suitable music that helps you focus.  Coffitivity is an app that provides background noise that emulates the ambient sounds of a café.  I think we all have found music to be a great way to keep our energy up.

7. Don’t multitask.  Schwantes says, “The most successful people are patient and avoid juggling many things.”  Research has shown that multitasking can be DAMAGING to your brain.

My goal is to choose one of the goals that I truly want to achieve and mindfully apply these seven steps.  I am excited to start, because I believe I will WIN at the end, and I wish for all of my friends and colleagues to WIN as well.  Let’s go for it!

 

@rosaliekramm  (Twitter)

Kramm Court Reporting (Facebook)

Certified Shorthand Reporters' ethical obligations in California

Court Reporters’ Legal Obligations – California Code of Regulation

Below is the language that court reporters are to adhere to in California. I have summarized Items 1 through 8 to simplify the regulation for court reporters and attorneys.

Summary:

  1. Court reporters are to make truthful and accurate public statements when advertising professional qualifications and competence and/or services rendered to the public.
  2. Maintain confidentiality of information.
  3. Perform professional services competently. If you determine you are not competent, notify the parties present or the presiding official (judge). The court reporter may continue if all parties present stipulate or upon an order of the presiding official.
  4. Comply with legal and/or agreed-to delivery dates and/or provide prompt notification of any delays.
  5. Promptly notify, when reasonably able to do so, all known parties in attendance at a deposition or civil court proceeding of any request for the preparation of all or any part of a transcript and/or rough draft. (No such notification is necessary if it comes from the Court.)
  6. Act without bias or prejudice against any party or their attorney
  7. Do not enter into a relationship that compromises the impartiality of the CSR, including if compensation is based on the outcome of a proceeding.
  8. Do not give or receive any gift in the aggregate that is more than $100 in a calendar year.

 

FAQs:

Q.  Do I have to put my CSR number on all of my emails after my name and on invoices to the agencies I work for?

A.  In reading No. 1, yes, you proudly will put your CSR number on all professional correspondence after your name.

Q. Do I have to tell the attorneys if the judge asks me to provide a transcript or rough draft?

A.  In reading No. 5, “No such notification is necessary if the request comes from the Court.”

Q.  When I am in court and report a civil trial or hearing, and an attorney asks me to get them a transcript or rough draft, but not to tell opposing counsel, can I do that?

A.  Once again in reading No. 5, the court reporter is to advise all parties if a transcript or rough draft is ordered when reasonably able to do so.

Q.  I cannot keep up with the witness and the attorney has a thick accent. I don’t think I can produce a record. What do I do?

A. According to No. 3, notify everyone. If they stipulate to allow you to continue (writing to the best of your ability) you may continue. (Good luck.)

Q. Is it true that we are not supposed to give a gift that is more than $100 per year to an attorney, legal secretary or paralegal that we do business with?

A.  No. 8 goes into detail about gift-giving, which is a chronic problem in our industry.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

CA Code of Regulation, Title 16, Division 24, Article 8, section 2475:

 

(a) Consistent with any action that may be taken by the Board pursuant to Sections 8025 and 8025.1 of the Code, the Board may cite a business that renders professional services, namely shorthand reporting services, within the meaning of Corporations Code Section 13401 or cite or discipline any certificate holder, including suspending, revoking, or denying the certification of a certified shorthand reporter, for violation of professional standards of practice.

(b) Every person under the jurisdiction of the Board who holds a license or certificate, or temporary license or certificate, or business that renders professional services, namely shorthand reporting services, within the meaning of Corporations Code Section 13401, shall comply with the following professional standards of practice:

(1) Make truthful and accurate public statements when advertising professional qualifications and competence and/or services offered to the public.

(2) Maintain confidentiality of information which is confidential as a result of rule, regulation, statute, court order, or deposition proceedings.

(3) Perform professional services within the scope of one’s competence, including promptly notifying the parties present or the presiding officer upon determining that one is not competent to continue an assignment. A licensee may continue to report proceedings after such notification upon stipulation on the record of all parties present or upon order of the presiding officer.

(4) Comply with legal and/or agreed-to delivery dates and/or provide prompt notification of delays.

(5) In addition to the requirements of Section 2025.220(a)(5) of the Code of Civil Procedure, promptly notify, when reasonably able to do so, all known parties in attendance at a deposition or civil court proceeding and/or their attorneys of a request for preparation of all or any part of a transcript, including a rough draft, in electronic or paper form. No such notification is necessary when the request is from the court.

(6) Act without bias toward, or prejudice against, any parties and/or their attorneys.

(7) Not enter into, arrange, or participate in a relationship that compromises the impartiality of the certified shorthand reporter, including, but not limited to, a relationship in which compensation for reporting services is based upon the outcome of the proceeding.

(8) Other than the receipt of compensation for reporting services, neither directly or indirectly give nor receive any gift, incentive, reward, or anything of value to or from any person or entity associated with a proceeding being reported. Such persons or entities shall include, but are not limited to, attorneys or an attorney’s family members, employees of attorneys or an employee’s family members, law firms as single entities, clients, witnesses, insurers, underwriters, or any agents or representatives thereof. Exceptions to the foregoing restriction shall be as follows: (A) giving or receiving items that do not exceed $100 (in the aggregate for any combination of items given and/or received) per calendar year to or from an attorney or an attorney’s family members, an employee of an attorney or an employee’s family members, a law firm as a single entity, a client, a witness, an insurer, an underwriter, or any agent or representative thereof; or (B) providing services without charge for which the certified shorthand reporter reasonably expects to be reimbursed from the Transcript Reimbursement Fund, Sections 8030 et seq. of the Code, or otherwise for an “indigent person” as defined in Section 8030.4(f) of the Code.

Kramm Court Reporters & Legal Video has the court reporters and videographers that are familiar with the rules and are happy to answer any questions you might have about your next deposition.

 

@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.

 

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.

________________________________________________________________________________

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)