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COURT REPORTING: Slacks on a Fence

Slacks on a fence

A young reporter wrote in her transcript “slacks on a fence,” but the case had nothing to do with pants. I told the reporter that the witness meant “slats on a fence,” but she protested, saying, “But that’s what he said!” No, I don’t think so.


Reading Back

It will invariably happen that someone will ask you to read something back during a deposition. It could be a question, an answer, a series of questions and answers, or colloquy. There will be days when reading back is a breeze, but there will also be days when you will feel less confident in your ability to do so. Needless to say, you will still have to face the music, so to speak, and at a time when all eyes are upon you. Will you be able to deliver?
Of course there are many reasons you may be having a difficult day: speed, technical material, foreign accent, overlapping speakers, contentious participants. No matter the reason, it is still your responsibility to bear down and push through. If you pay attention to the testimony, and do not sit mindlessly writing, you will have an understanding of the issues at hand; so if you are asked to read back, at least you will have the benefit of context to help you.
If possible and if it is not too distracting, look at your screen as you write and make a mental note of what words your misstrokes or untranslates should be.  Then if you are suddenly asked to read back, you will not have to stumble through trying to decipher them. Also, at a recess check the last few questions and answers as well. It is common when the proceedings resume to be asked to read the last question and answer back to help the attendees refocus.
When you do read back, be sure to do so at an even pace, and enunciate every word. Speak loudly and clearly for all to hear. Mark whatever section you read back because you will need to reference that in the final transcript.
If the worst case scenario happens and you are just not able to read back, you have to say you are unable to do so. Counsel or the witness will probably repeat what they said or just move on. Hopefully this will be an isolated incident. If you find reading back an ongoing challenge, you will need to continue to diligently practice to build your speed and write more cleanly.  Reading back your practice material is a great exercise and will help you hone your readback skills.
Providing consistent and accurate readback is a valuable and unique service court reporters provide. Readback is a good barometer of your skill level, and it is one of the benchmarks upon which attorneys will judge your competence.  You will not want to disappoint.


Social Media Tips for Court Reporters

social media

As court reporters, we typically do not think of ourselves as “salespeople.” Yes, we try to sell our services at a deposition by offering realtime, rough drafts, and expedites, but we also need to think about marketing ourselves outside of the deposition or courtroom setting.

Court Reporting Students: Keep Calm and Accept Change!

keep calm

Boy! Have we had some serious changes this quarter! Changes that took us, faculty and students alike, by surprise. Changes that have shaken our very foundation.

Court Reporting Students: Just Words

just words

I have an elaborate routine before taking a test. It involves finger drills, small word drills, fast dictation of familiar material to get my fingers moving, sometimes a nap to make sure I’m well rested, and then some caffeine to wake up from the nap. I also have to be in a good mood, which sometimes requires me to put off testing for a day so I can mentally wrestle myself into a good mood. 

Court Reporting Students: STRESS RELIEF

stress relief

As court reporting students and captioning students, we spend hours every week on our machines. A day of practice can realistically consist of anywhere between one to five hours of practice a day (if it's more than five, go YOU!)

Court Reporting Students: Constant Vigilance

stay on target

There have been a lot of distractions these last few weeks. When we got the news that Prince was transitioning into a teach-out, it was all I could think about it and all I wanted to talk about. I tried talking to my sister because I figured she should be just as upset as me. “Isn’t this terrible?!” I asked her.

3 Court Reporter Injuries and How to Avoid Them


Court reporting can be physically demanding. This may not be apparent by watching a court reporter quietly taking down the verbatim record. It may appear that he or she is not physically putting out much effort when compared to other jobs. But if you've been a court reporter for very long, you know how physically draining a full day of writing can be. When done for a number of years, some court reporters develop painful conditions related to working long hours sitting in one spot.

Court Reporting Students: BEAT AVERAGE

beat average

A new ad has cropped up on television. You may have seen it. The ad is so good that I'm not certain what they're advertising as far as a product. All I know is that what they're advertising, for me, is a new outlook on life!

Court Reporting Students: ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING

Attitude is everything

From the first day of court reporting school, I’ve heard about the importance of positive thinking and how your attitude can make or break you as a student. I do think what we say out loud holds weight, and the things we think about ourselves come true; so I try my best to stay positive.

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