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Scanning Court Reporters

Court Reporters and Scanners – Win, Win, Win!

Recently the wonderful Mike Miller, Depoman, posted on Facebook – “Asbestos depo, 5 people in the room, 10+ on the phone.  Expert produces 50 pages of handwritten notes.  Phone people object to not having the notes.  I scanned them, sent them on, and the deposition went forward.”

Many of the great court reporters bring small scanners to depositions or use their smart phones.  I asked a couple of my brilliant court reporting friends what they use and asked if I could share their advice to court reporters everywhere.

Marjorie Peters suggested reporters use the CamScanner app.  You can use your mobile phone to take a picture of whatever needs to be scanned.  It allows for auto edge cropping if you are so inclined to clean up the background.  The CamScanner generates a high-resolution JPEG or PDF file.  CamScanner OCRs text files and then allows you to email the image.  (You can use it also for scanning attorneys’ business cards, notices…”

Mike Miller advises that the Fujitsu ScanSnap ix1500 is the best solution.  He and his brilliant wife, Susan Perry Miller, will set it up unobtrusively across the room and scan exhibits at breaks, which is particularly helpful on rush jobs.  Looking at the Fujitsu web page, some of the benefits are that it is wireless, uses a touch screen, has speedy 30 ppm color scanning, and you can scan 50 sheets in the Automatic Document Feeder.    Mike also likes the ScanSnap s1300.  It will only scan about 20 pages at a time, but it is much more portable than the ix500.

Court reporters are carrying a lot of equipment to the job, and a scanner might seem excessive, but when we are in an intense, high-stake deposition, and can pull off a quick scan, particularly if there are attorneys who are attending remotely, you will become even more invaluable.

Another scenario I can picture is if you have a scopist working remotely on the job while you’re writing, and you can send exhibits that attorneys are reading from, it is a win-win-win.

rosalie@kramm.com

Attorneys - Depositions -
Consciousness

Should I become a court reporter? What about voice recognition technology?

Over the last two years, I have had the privilege to speak to the criminal justice classes at San Marcos High School.  The teacher tells me that the students look forward to meeting the court reporter more so than any of his other legal professional speakers (court clerk, bailiff, and even judge).  When I get to the class, I set up so that they can see my CAT screen on a large monitor, and that allows them to see my steno notes, words-per-minute count, and real-time transcript.  I invite the students to write words on the machine and dictate a mock cross-examination while I write.

One of the questions that always comes up is, “Why don’t they just use a tape recorder or something like Siri?”  I actually look forward to that question, because the answer is so obvious.

But then I started thinking, what is happening with AI anyway?  I know Siri is weak when it comes to accurately writing down the spoken word.  She sometimes gets it right, but for the most part there are mistakes, misinterpretation of words, and bad punctuation.  So I did a little research.

I came across on article on DZone, “Everything You Need to Know About Voice Recognition Technology.”  The article explains how the technology works, and then comments on the “challenges when faced integrating voice capabilities.”

The first challenge mentioned is real-time response behavior.  The author talks about network capabilities and real-time response behavior.  The network connection, microphone, and server needed to fetch the results have to be optimized.

The second challenge is languages and accents.  “Every software doesn’t support all languages, and developers need to identify the regions of their target audience to make strategic decisions regarding languages or accents recognized.”  As court reporters, we know how difficult it is for the human brain to decipher what experts are saying with thick accents, and in the world of IP, I find many of the witnesses are from other countries and have heavy accents speaking about the newest technologies.

The third challenge is punctuation.  The author writes, “This is one of the biggest challenges that is faced when it comes to voice-based software.  Unfortunately, even the best improvements and algorithms may not work because there are virtually endless sentences with different sorts of punctuation.”

After doing my research, I have come to realize once again that the human court reporter who can write clean is essential for making a real-time record.  No machine, algorithm, or technology can perform the job of a great real-time court reporter.  The students in court reporting school have a bright future with many job opportunities in both the court and freelance sector.

 

rkramm@veritext.com

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

Deposition by Written Question

Federal Rule 30 – Deposition by Written Questions – Best Practices

Upon occasion attorneys will provide the deposition officer (court reporter) a set of written questions that a deponent is to answer pursuant to Federal Rule 30.  Court reporters around the country have contacted me asking for advice when written questions come in as far as the logistics and format, so I have come up with the following best practices for attorneys and court reporters so the examination can go smoothly.

The rule reads:  (3) Participating Through Written Questions. Instead of participating in the oral examination, a party may serve written questions in a sealed envelope on the party noticing the deposition, who must deliver them to the officer. The officer must ask the deponent those questions and record the answers verbatim.

Best Practices for Attorneys:

1. Number questions starting with No. 1.  It will make it easier for the court reporter to provide a transcript that you can easily discern which answer corresponds to which question.

2. Alternatively, include the written questions on a flash drive in the sealed envelope.  The court reporter could then easily copy/paste your question before the answer if you prefer to see the question and answer together in the final transcript.

Best Practices/Procedure for the Court Reporter:

1. Swear in the witness
2. Read the whole of the question to the witness
3. Upon completion of reading the question, report the witness’ answer verbatim.
4. Attach a certificate to the end of the transcript including the fact the witness was duly sworn, each question was read to the witness and that the witness’ answers were taken down verbatim, along with the language used in your standard Federal Rules certificate.

ADVICE:  Before the questions are read, inform the deponent that you will not be commenting in any way, shape, or form on the questions.  Many times witnesses will ask how they are supposed to answer or ask to have something clarified.  DO NOT COMMENT ON THE QUESTIONS.  Let the witness know that you are only to write down their answers verbatim.

If you found this article helpful, you might want to read the article, Federal Rule 30(e) – Deposition Read/Sign.

@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

How Paralegals + Legal Assistants Can Benefit from Court Reporting Technology in the Cloud

Having worked with many law firms throughout my career in the court reporting industry, I have found that leveraging technology is a powerful way to save a tremendous amount of time and create efficiencies. Using a cloud-based, cyber secure calendaring system and repository allows 24/7/365 access to vital, time sensitive information and documents.

The following services are ways paralegals, legal assistants, and attorneys can utilize cloud-based technology:

1.  Online repository that houses transcripts and exhibits/notices/correspondence for all of your law firm’s cases. For security purposes, check to ensure the repository is SSA 16 compliant as well as the backup locations offsite are encrypted over VPNs and SSL certificates are used.

2.  Mobile app that gives the same access to the transcripts/exhibits/correspondence with the same cyber secure benefits mentioned in Item 1.

3.  Online calendar that shows all of your calendared hearings, depositions, and trials. You do not have to worry whether or not a matter is on the court reporting company’s calendar or if the time/location are correct. Just go online and check.

4.  The calendar would also be available on a mobile app and includes Mapquest directions.

5.  Invoices and Statements: You can check and see if an invoice was paid by logging in or checking the mobile app.

For more information or to learn about our cloud-based technology (Case 24/7), please call us at 800.939.0080.  We would love to work with you.

@rosaliekramm (Twitter)

Kramm Court Reporting (Facebook)

Court reporters, paralegals, legal assistants find time.

Legal Assistants & Paralegals: Turning a Word doc into a Fillable PDF

Paralegals, legal secretaries and others in administrative positions in the legal field deal with many different types of documents.

As a court reporter and owner of a court reporting firm, my staff and I certainly have to deal with our fair share of documents.

Filling out documents and forms sure can be time consuming!

Receiving a Word document that requires multiple blank lines to be filled in can be extremely time consuming.
It is a waste of time to have to print it out, handwrite in the information, scan the document, name it, save it somewhere, and then send it back to the sender.

Looking for a solution, I found the following steps that allows us to reformat a Word document to a fillable PDF and thought it might be helpful if I shared this with you. These steps involve using Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat.

1.  Open the Word document.
2.  Go to “FILE” and then choose “Save as Adobe PDF”. If you do not see this option, choose “PRINT.”  Make sure the printer selected is “ADOBE PDF.”  Click print.
3.  Word will ask you where to save the file.  Choose your desktop or where you want to find the file.
4.  Your computer will create a PDF file, and it will open automatically in Adobe Acrobat editing.
5.  At this point your document is a basic PDF.  Click on “TOOLS.”  Then click “FORMS.”  Then click “CREATE.”
6.  Acrobat will ask which document. Choose “Use an existing file.”  Click “NEXT.”
7.  On the next screen choose “Use the current document.”
8.  Acrobat will try to detect the fillable fields.  You might have to edit some of fields manually.
Acrobat might think decorative lines are to be fillable fields.
9.  If you see a form field that you don’t want to be fillable, click on it.  It will highlight in
blue.  Press the “DELETE” button on your keyboard.  You aren’t deleting the line on your form, just
the fillable field Acrobat set incorrectly.
10.  When you think your form is ready, click the “PREVIEW” button and proof that the fillables are correct.
11.  If you want to make additional edits, click on “Edit” (where “Preview” had been).  You will return to
the form editor.
12.  When you are satisfied with your form, use the “SAVE AS” feature and save the form wherever you wish.

Kramm Court Reporting salutes legal secretaries, legal administrators, and paralegals and we will be posting more articles in the future that we believe will be helpful to you.

@rosaliekramm  (Twitter)

Kramm Court Reporting (Facebook)

CA Rules of Court 8.130

California Rules of Court – 2017 Reporter’s transcript

Reading through the 2017 California Rules of Court regarding court reporter’s transcripts, there are some provisions that are particularly interesting relating to timeliness, the cost of transcripts, and the appellant’s ability to deposit a certified transcript.

APPEAL TRANSCRIPT COST:

8.130(b)(1)(A) The amount specified in the reporter’s written estimate; or (B) An amount calculated as follows:

(i) For proceedings that have NOT been previously been transcribed: $325 per fraction of the day’s proceedings that did not exceed three hours; or $650 per day or fraction that exceeded three hours.

(ii) For proceedings that have previously been transcribed: $80 per fraction of the day’s proceedings that did not exceed three hours, or $160 per day or fraction that exceeded three hours.

(3) Instead of a deposit under (1), the party may substitute:

(A) The reporter’s written waiver of a deposit.  A reporter may waive the deposit for a part of the designated proceedings, but such a waiver replaces the deposit for only that part.

(B) A copy of the Transcript Reimbursement Fund application filed under (c)(1)

(C) A certified transcript of all the proceedings designated by the party.  The transcript must comply with the format requirements of rule 8.144.

 

APPEAL TRANSCRIPT TIMELINESS:

Rule 8.130(d): Superior court clerk’s duties

  1. The clerk must file a party’s notice of designation even if the party does not present the required deposit under (b)(1) or a substitute under (b)(3) with its notice of designation.
  2. The clerk must promptly send the reporter notice of the designation and of the deposit or substitute and notice to prepare the transcript, showing the date the notice was sent to the reporter, when the court receives:
  1. The required deposit under (b)(1);
  2. A reporter’s written waiver of a deposit under (b)(3); or
  3. A copy of the Court Reporters Board’s provisional approval of the party’s application for payment under the Transcript Reimbursement Fund under (c).

Rule 8.130(f): Filing the transcript; copies; payment

  1. Within 30 days after notice is sent under (d)(2), the reporter must prepare and certify an original of the transcript and file it in superior court. The reporter must also file one copy of the original transcript, or more than one copy if multiple appellants equally share the cost of preparing the record (see rule 8.147(a)(2)). Only the reviewing court can extend the time to prepare the reporter’s transcript (see rule 8.60).
  2. When the transcript is completed, the reporter must notify all parties to the appeal that the transcript is complete, bill each designating party at the statutory rate, and send a copy of the bill to the superior court clerk. The clerk must pay the reporter from that party’s deposited funds and refund any excess deposit or notify the party of any additional funds needed. In a multiple reporter case, the clerk must pay each reporter who certifies under penalty of perjury that his or her transcript portion is completed.
  3. If the appeal is abandoned or is dismissed before the reporter has filed the transcript, the reporter must inform the superior court clerk of the cost of the portion of the transcript that the reporter has completed. The clerk must pay that amount to the reporter from the appellant’s deposited funds and refund any excess deposit.
  4. On request, and unless the superior court orders otherwise, the reporter must provide the Court of Appeal or any party with a copy of the reporter’s transcript in computer-readable format. Each computer-readable copy must comply with the requirements of rule 8.144(a)(4).

Filing court transcripts for the Court of Appeal is complicated. My staff have found that many attorneys are not sure when the court reporter is to begin finalizing the appeal transcript.  Receiving formal notice of designations under (d)(2) from the superior court clerk triggers the start time in which the court reporter can produce the appeal transcript.  Our company has had frequent requests from attorneys asking us to begin an appeal transcript before the provisions in (d)(2) occurs.  The transcript is finalized, but the court reporter’s hands are tied without receiving the new appeal case number and how many designations/volumes are formally ordered.

Court reporters that provide court reporting services in the California superior courts (hearings and/or trials) study Rule 8.130 – California Rules of Court.

@rosaliekramm (Twitter)

Kramm Court Reporting (Facebook)