Is Your Court Reporter Providing a VERBATIM Transcript?

court reporter providing verbatim transcriptI recently received a phone call from an attorney with whom we had worked only a few times.  He apologized at the very beginning of the call because he had a strange request.  His request was for us to re-transcribe a deposition from the audio recording he had received from the reporting firm that had originally reported and transcribed the deposition.  He further explained that the transcript he had received was “close” to what had occurred, but was certainly not verbatim.  He was asking us to produce a second transcript from the audio in anticipation that the new document would be closer to verbatim.

As the owner of a well-established court reporting firm, I was not completely shocked to hear that “verbatim” and “court reporting” are not synonymous terms across our industry, yet found it quite disturbing that some Denver court reporting firms are not taking the importance of YOUR client’s case as seriously as you do.  As a firm owner, one of my key responsibilities is to ensure that our reporters are consistently producing high quality VERBATIM transcripts.  All of the Stevens-Koenig reporters are highly skilled and credentialed to assure that they produce only verbatim transcripts that you can rely on as being a complete replication of the proceedings.

I found it disheartening to learn that attorneys are settling for transcripts that they consider to be only “close” to what occurred.  Your client’s case is too important to settle for “close,” but this call infers that there often are transcripts being delivered that are not word-for-word transcripts.

What you, as a legal professional, should know is that this lower standard should not be acceptable in the legal community and certainly should not in the court reporting community. We are the “Guardians of the Record,” so “close” is not good enough to be considered adequately guarding the record.

The National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) has assembled a Code of Professional Ethics by which court reporters who belong to the association are expected to abide.  The very first section of the code states, “The Court Reporter is the official reporter/officer creating the verbatim record of a proceeding.  In making the official record, a Member should accept only those assignments when the Member’s level of competence will result in the preparation of an accurate transcript. The Member should remove him or herself from an assignment when the Member believes the Member’s abilities are inadequate, recommending or assigning another reporter only if that reporter has the qualifications required for such assignment.”

In my mind, this particular Code comes into play in this situation. The reporter obviously didn’t possess the competency level necessary for the preparation of an accurate transcript. The reporter should have recognized early in the deposition that producing an accurate verbatim transcript was not going to be possible. He or she should have asked for a short recess and made arrangements for a more experienced court reporter with higher skills to take over and finish the job.

I suggested that this attorney contact the owner of the firm that produced this transcript and to openly and honestly explain his concerns.  It should be their responsibility to produce a file from the audio recording that is more complete than what he’d already received.  There was no reason for him to pay us to re-transcribe the file when that firm should do it at no charge.

At Stevens-Koenig Reporting, we require every court reporter to produce verbatim transcripts without exception.  If you’d prefer to receive verbatim transcripts of your depositions, call to schedule a reporter from Stevens-Koenig Reporting.  We’d be honored to provide the service required to give you what you’re paying for and what you should be able to expect.