Just as it is in trial, preparation is key to a successful deposition. Since the object of a deposition is to create a clear and complete record for your client’s case, there are a few key points to remember about working with Colorado court reporters to effectively reach that objective.
Colorado court reporters are certified professionals, and their job is to create an unbiased and accurate record of the deposition. Reporters must not only write the spoken words, they must identify the speakers of those words and add the appropriate punctuation to reflect tone and intent. If you have any questions about the process, ask the reporter directly prior to beginning the deposition. For example, if a court reporter asks if the “usual stipulations” should apply, you should not give your consent unless you are very confident about exactly what you are stipulating.
Preparation For the Depo
In preparation for the deposition, scheduling as far in advance as possible is ideal, and notice of changes or cancellation should be given to your reporter as soon as possible. If you can provide the case caption, spelling of the names of the parties involved in the deposition, general subject matter, and an estimated amount of time needed, your reporter will be able to prepare in advance for the proceedings. Otherwise, the Colorado court reporter will ask for this information before the deposition begins. If there are any special circumstances or requirements, such as a foreign language interpreter, videotaping, extremely technical material, or parties with thick accents or speech impediments, your reporter will be grateful to know these things in advance. Also, if graphic or explicit materials will be discussed or exhibited, it can be helpful for the court reporter to know the subject matter ahead of time in order to control any reaction and remain expressionless during the deposition.
The Day of the Depo
On the day of your deposition, good Colorado court reporters will require some time to set up before beginning, and the reporter should be comfortably seated as close as possible to the deponent. To minimize interference with reporting equipment, electronic devices should be turned off. The reporter typically administers the oath to the witness before questioning begins. When announcing your name, speak slowly and enunciate, projecting your voice toward the reporter or microphone. If multiple people will be speaking, or if you are appearing by telephone, state your name each time you speak to avoid confusion. Starting off by giving your opening statement at a comfortable pace can put the entire room at ease, give the reporter a chance to get the feel for the job, and set the tone for the rest of the deposition.
During the Depo
As the deposition progresses, keep an eye on your reporter, particularly if your deponent is difficult to understand at times. If you did not understand the entire response, chances are your reporter did not get all the words either, so watch for expressions of puzzlement and give the reporter a chance to get used to the speech pattern. Remember that the reporter’s job is still to transcribe every single word, not just an overview or general interpretation of an answer. If you or your deponent will be reading aloud, make a concerted effort to read slowly, and remind your witness to slow down if necessary.
How Will Your Words Appear In Writing?
It is important to bear in mind that your reporter only writes what is actually said, so think about how your words will appear in writing. For example, if the deponent says “she slapped me right here,” you need to say something like “let the record reflect that the witness is pointing to the left side of his face;” and gestures must be described by saying “let the record reflect that the witness is making a slapping motion with the palm of his hand flat.” Similarly, do not refer to demonstratives or exhibits as “this photograph” or “right here on this page.” Numbers can also present a particular challenge for Colorado court reporters. Though it may seem awkward, say the entire number and any descriptive words that are needed along with it. For example, if you want to say $917.95, say “nine hundred seventeen dollars and ninety five cents” in order to have the best possible transcript. If you say is “nine seventeen ninety five,” the reporter has no way of knowing if you are referring to a date (9/17/95), a dollar amount ($917.95), or some other number (917-95), and your transcript will be more difficult to read as a result.
Colorado court reporters want to work with you to give you the outstanding product you need for your case, and to provide a usable record for all parties. Treating your reporter as a part of your team and being sensitive to basic needs can go a long way toward maximizing the use of your time, skills, and resources in a deposition.