Wondering what are deposition transcripts?
Do you know how court reporters produce deposition transcripts?
How important are deposition transcripts in terms of court evidence?
In this article, we will talk about all there is to know about a deposition transcript.
Are you ready?
Let’s get started…
Table of Contents
Deposition transcript definition
A deposition transcript is the written record produced by an official court reporter of a witness’ testimony in the context of an out-of-court examination or deposition.
The deposition transcript is a written record of all the words uttered by the lawyers and witnesses participating in a deposition.
What’s more, the deposition transcript has the same weight as a witness testimony obtained directly in front of a judge.
Parties to a lawsuit will typically call witnesses for a deposition to perform the factual discovery of their case.
Once a witness is deposed, the deposition transcript will memorialize the statements made by the witness so parties can use that in the context of their lawsuit as evidence.
Using a deposition transcription in court
A party to a lawsuit can use parts or the entire deposition transcript as evidence in trial.
Evidence in trial
Depending on the court rules, you must notify your intention to use a deposition transcript in trial and indicate if you will be using extracts or the entire deposition.
Also, the legal deposition transcript can be used against a party provided the party was represented or present at the time the deposition was taken or was formally notified of the deposition.
Deposition transcriptions are a strategic type of evidence as not only they allow you to obtain someone’s version of the facts but that version is obtained under oath.
You can then use the witness’ testimony to either contradict evidence in the record of the court or corroborate them thereby solidifying the factual basis of your legal claim.
Impeaching a witness
What happens after a deposition is taken?
A deposition transcript can be used later at trial to impeach a witness.
This can be quite an interesting technique.
Attacking the credibility of a witness or contradicting the witness on their statements can be significant depending on the nature of the case and the importance of the witness’ testimony.
Impeaching a witness is the process of raising doubt as to the witness’ credibility per the court rules of procedure and evidence.
In most cases, a party cannot impeach his or her witness unless certain conditions are met.
You can impeach a witness if the witness is the opposing party, a witness called by the other party or a witness makes a statement against the party calling him or her.
You’ll need to consult a litigation lawyer to understand the specific rules of evidence applicable to your court but in most jurisdictions, you may use a deposition transcript to impeach a witness.
Deposition transcript accuracy
Court reports are required to produce a deposition transcript to faithfully capture the deponent’s testimony.
As such, court reporters are not creative writers or storytellers, they have the task of transcribing literally what was said and how it was said.
The job is not as simple as it may appear.
A court reporter must ensure the words used and the manner the transcript is punctuated reflects the real-life context of the deposition.
They must write a document based on spoken words as opposed to the words employed in the dictionary or the proper written formulations.
Just like any other professional, court reporters should have a good understanding of the words, vocabulary and terms that may be used during the deposition.
A deposition for a Worker’s Compensation case is very different from an antitrust lawsuit.
Court reporters may have their preferred areas of the law as they may be more familiar with the vocabulary and jargon used in the industry.
Real-time deposition transcripts
With the advancement of technology, court reporters are now in a position to provide litigation lawyers a rough draft of the deposition transcript in real-time as soon as the deposition is over.
This is quite an advancement over the traditional way of producing deposition transcripts.
In the traditional way, a court reporter may take a few weeks up to even a few months to prepare a deposition transcript.
By leveraging a software, court reporters now have the ability to generate a rough draft of the deposition in real-time.
The remaining part of the work will be to ensure that the rough draft is cleaned up and consistent with the actual deposition.
This process may accelerate the transcript production by several weeks.
How are deposition transcripts produced
Deposition transcripts are generally produced in a few key steps.
Record the deposition
The first step is for the court reporter to attend the deposition with all the parties involved.
During the deposition, the court reporter will record everything that is said, word-for-word.
Court reporters will generally have a recording device or a stenotype machine to record the conversations verbatim.
Scoping work on the draft
Once the deposition is over, the court reporter can work with a scopist to get a rough draft of the deposition transcript.
The scopist will also validate the spelling and punctuation of the stenographic notes or find missing words.
Proofreading of transcript
After the scoping work, the court reporter will proofread the deposition transcript to ensure it reflects the content of the recorded deposition.
Proofreading is an important step to ensure the stenographic notes reflect what was said by the parties at the deposition.
Final review of the transcript
The final step is for the court reporter to do a final review and issue a certificate stating that the deposition reflects a true and accurate transcript of the testimony.
Since deposition transcripts can have such an important impact on the outcome of a lawsuit, court reporters must pay special attention to the quality and accuracy of their work.
Every word can potentially impact a party’s right, so it’s serious work.
As a result, the court reporter must make sure that everything is double-checked and validated rigorously.
Deposition transcript certification
The deposition transcript certification is a statement or certification issued by the court reporter attesting that the transcript represents a true and accurate transcription of the testimony received from the deponent.
The court reporter or stenographer has to ensure the deposition represents a full and impartial transcript of the testimony offered by a witness.
It’s also worth noting that a deposition cannot be taken by a court reporter should the court reporter have any relationship with those being deposed, the lawyers involved or has a financial interest in the case.
Court reporters must observe their rules of ethics as established by their court reporter governing body.
Deposition transcript correction
In some cases, a deposition transcript must be corrected.
Depending on your jurisdiction, you’ll need to follow a specific process to have the deposition transcript corrected.
If the specific process is not followed properly, you may end up compromising the entire deposition transcript, so any correction required must be done with care.
If a party discovers a substantive issue or an issue with the form, they’ll need to disclose that in writing to the court reporter along with a written explanation of the issues discovered.
The court reporter will then consider the corrections required as needed by enclosing the changes to the original transcript to show the changes made.
Deposition transcript format
Deposition transcripts can be prepared in several formats.
The traditional format is paper transcripts.
When you get a paper transcript, you can have the content of the deposition transcribed on a full-page format or condense four pages into one.
In most cases, courts will require that you file a paper copy of the transcript as evidence in the court record should you wish to use the deposition as evidence.
As a result, the paper format is useful when you need to have an actual printed copy of the deposition to file in court.
The next deposition transcript format is the e-transcripts format.
To be able to read an e-transcript, you’ll need to download an e-transcript viewer.
Generally, these are free viewers that you can download online.
With the viewer as the interface, you can read and navigate through the deposition transcript very easily.
You can even view the transcript on your smartphone or tablet with the viewer installed.
Portable Document Format (PDF) format
A popular transcript format is the PDF format.
The PDF transcript format allows you to digitally view the transcript in the same way as it would have appeared if you had received it in print format.
PDF is a widely used document format and nearly everyone will have Adobe Reader to read PDF documents.
Often, your PDF transcript will have searchable allowing you to search for words or phrases you may be looking for.
Today, this is the most commonly used deposition transcript format.
ASCII is a raw text file format.
It is a very simple document without any formatting or specific outline.
The text appears in raw form and can be exported into word processing applications for editing.
This type of format is not a common format.
You’ll probably have a very specific process or requirement to demand an ASCII transcript format.
Deposition transcript software
With the advancement of technology, software solutions have been built allowing court reporters to produce deposition transcripts in real-time.
The more artificial intelligence technology and natural language processing technologies evolve, the more software can produce a quality verbatim transcript of a deposition.
Some court reporters leverage deposition transcript software to produce a deposition transcript in real-time as the witness testifies.
By the end of the deposition, they can even share a rough draft of the deposition transcript with the parties.
Once the rough draft is generated, all they need to do is to complete the scoping, proofreading and final review.
The initial reporting step in the process of producing stenographic notes is entirely automated.
Deposition Transcripts: Takeaways
A deposition transcript is the written record of a witness’ official out-of-court testimony.
It is produced by a court reporter who is a professional in the legal transcription of depositions on a word-for-word basis.
The deposition transcript is an important, if not crucial, evidence the parties can use in court.
Considering the deposition transcript provides a complete account of a person’s testimony under oath, lawyers can use the stenographic notes to impeach a witness or attack their credibility.
The deposition transcript can also be used by a party to assess their litigation strategy and determine if other witnesses may need to be deposed or questioned.
Court reporters take great care in producing the transcripts of a deposition to respect their professional obligations but also since there is so much on the line by the parties.
We hope this article helped you get more clarity on the deposition transcript.
Have you ever participated in the production of an out-of-court testimony transcript?
Perhaps you used a deposition transcript to attack the credibility of a witness in court!
What was your experience?
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Drop us a comment.