I'm hoping some of you experienced court reporters can help me out. I reported a board hearing and it was all medical. Individuals were given a certain amount of time to speak to present their case. One of the individuals had an extremely heavy accent and was speaking as fast as he could, I kept stopping him for clarification. He was very annoyed with me for stopping him. The judge and board members were trying to help me out but at the end of the day there are two terms he used and I have no idea what it is. I can't look it up because phonetically, with his accent, it doesn't sound anything like the actual word. The judge laughed about it the next day and mentioned reporters he's had using the words (unintelligible) in the transcript. So my question is, is it appropriate for me to put (unintelligible) in the transcript?

I appreciate any advice you all can give me:-)

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I create a sound clip and email it to the witness.  I include context in the email and indicate clearly where my question is.  I do this all time.  If the witness or someone else who might be able to decipher it refuses to help, then I put some phonetic form of what I think I'm hearing and (phonetic) next to it or maybe I'll put (three indecipherable syllables).  I like indecipherable better.   GD nerve for that person to be talking like that. What an inconsiderate pig.
For a dep or anything with my cert page attached, no, I do not put unintelligible, although I have been tempted a million times.  For a board meeting, I wouldn't hesitate to do it, and would almost take great pleasure in doing in witn this person you are referring.  If you don't get cooperation from people, it's your only option.

Definitely put yourself on the record when you stopped him for clarification -- VERY IMPORTANT.  It's called "CYA."  You were obviously doing the best anyone could to get a record and getting zero cooperation.  That needs to be in there regardless of what you choose to do in other proceedings.

I have never put in that parenthetical; I am not completely sure it's wrong to do so.  Clearly, this was an absolutely hopeless situation.  Maybe there are exhibits or other paperwork where you can get those two words?  Also, you might ask the judge about them; he seems sympathetic..

You might also post the sentences with the unintelligible words here.  If there's plenty of context, others here might be able to help you piece them out.  Write the unintelligibles as phonetically as you've got, and we'll see what we can do.

Thanks so much for the great advice! I really appreciate your help. I had really hoped this transcript would never get ordered, but of course it did:-)
Can we post sound clips here?  Maybe somebody here can understand the guy. 

Hi, Heather.  I would suggest you take the pleasure that Cindy recommended, roll around in it, use "unintelligible," and move on.  If you could see some Congressional transcripts -- and I don't mean from Hill reporters, I mean from things that are transcribed in government proceedings -- they are replete with not only errors but unintelligible as well, and I mean along the lines of:  "We were (unintelligible) on the (unintelligible).  At the point we pulled our guns, it was utter (unintelligible).  That's when the military (unintelligible) for the Ministry of (unintelligible) stood up and was gunned down.  (Unintelligible) and (unintelligible) were heavily involved in the planning for this covert operation, and ultimately, General Fontaine ordered a (unintelligible) locked down (unintelliglble)."


Really.  The advice I would give you is you do the best you can do, and that's all you can do.  The most upsetting part of your whole post is "He was very annoyed with me for stopping him."  We are highly trained, skilled professionals.  We are not miracle workers!  Want a silk purse?  Start with silk.



I do it only when I have no choice.  I have been on this case with Asian inventors and they all have heavy accents.  Since my jobs are videotaped, there was one place that I just could not figure out what the guy said and I did use (unintelligible) in the transcript.   I have taken about eight or nine depos in this case and only used it once.   Most of the time I can figure it out, plus the fact I am interrupting all day long trying to make sure I understand what the witness is saying. 


 It is what it is and you can only do what you can do.  It's not your fault he doesn't speak clearly.

I had this one depo that I will never forget about five years ago with a witness with a super heavy accent and I could not understand him for the life of me.  I would interrupt to get clarification and the attorney had us go off the record and the told me he did not want me interrupting anymore because it was ruining his record.


I had him put on the record he did not want me to interrupt for clarification.  On that depo I used (unintelligible) through the whole transcript.  I had no choice.  The transcript was barely usable, but I did CYA in the sense I made him state on the record I could not clarify anything.  You get what you get. 


I am glad that has only happened once.  What a jerk.

>I had him put on the record he did not want me to interrupt for clarification.<  Good one.  I am definitely going to remember that.

What a jerk indeed, Kelli.  Very smart to get him to state on the record exactly what he wants.  Any complaints or anything re that "barely usable" transcript?  


I agree. Great. Necessary use of "unintelligible." However I can easily see the atty not paying the bill for that exact reason. Any fallout?

I never heard anything about it.  Thank goodness.  I hope I never come across that again.


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