Deleting portions of transcript after the job has been turned in? Really?

I have a question about if it's the reporter's responsibility after a transcript is turned in, to go back and delete words that the attorney says are highly confidential and wants me to "redact" from the transcript. 

I feel this is a Production issue and not my responsibility.  This job is almost 300 pages and they want me to go through my transcript and delete words everywhere.  I've been a reporter for 27 years and have never been asked to do this.  Oh, of course, I have to take my own time for free to do it as well.

 

 

Kelli

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I'm assuming all parties agreed to the redaction, right, and it's in writing somewhere? I completely understand what you said about your time, that's important. No one cares about our time except us.

In federal court, there are five "identifiers" that are "redactable," SSNs, bank account #s, etc.  The attys need to inform reporter of page and line numbers from the original transcript exactly what words on those page/line numbers are to be redacted.  Case Catalyst and Eclipse have a redaction feature.  I agree with several who posted, including Amanda and Quyen.  Not sure if, in federal court, attys have to agree to redaction, but they may.  Perhaps a federal reporter can comment. 

I cannot imagine how anyone other than the certified court reporter could perform the redaction, because a cert page needs to go at the end of the Redacted Transcript.  Yes, two transcripts should be made.  There is the original one which exists and then the Redacted Transcript, clearly stated on the new caption/style page.

Personally, I try to do everything in my power to make sure I will not have to do a redaction, and by that I mean:  If I hear a SSN mentioned, at a break I will approach the attys and ask if they wish to state on the record that they wish the SSN to only reflect the last four digits, and the same with the other four federal identifiers.  This is the most pro-active thing I can do.  Some reporters want no parts of asking atys anything and feel "it is not our job," but I can say I do not enjoy redacting.

Same thing for Confidential/Non-confidential transcripts.  I've personally found this happens a lot with out-of-state attys.  I try to clarify with them whether the entire transcript can be designated as Conf or as Non-conf, as it takes an inordinate amount of time to separate and make two distinct transcripts.  I once had to separate "here a question, there a question, everywhere a question - and the answers" into two transcripts, requiring an inordinate amount of time, and I vowed that, if I ever again found myself unknowingly in this situation, I would charge an hourly fee for "separation of confidential/non-confidential transcripts."  Time is money.

I think this is a hard lesson learned here, Kelli, unfortunately.  Maybe add this service to your rate sheet, so agencies know upfront about this service to attorneys.  It is unconscionable to ask a reporter to redact or to make Conf/Non-conf transcripts of more than one or two questions.  

Kelli,

Did you talk to the Board?  If so, what did they say?

I once had an attorney indicate that he misspoke who he represented (in an asbestos case, so multiple parties) and wanted me to change it in the original.  I know it's not the same...

Also I've had attorneys that indicated a flippant statement should have been left off the record and as an experienced reporter I should have known to go off record (for that statement).

There have been more, including redactions requested after the original and certified copies were delivered.

In each instance, I inform the agency and counsel that the final certified transcript as-is can be stipulated by all counsel and/or by judge's order, then the redacted transcript can be prepared OR an affidavit can be filed by counsel where he/she thinks the record should be modified in any way. 

Otherwise, we could open the door to multiple requests to change/modify/redact the record post final transcript delivery.  Yikes!

I've not researched each state's rules regarding changes to the original (as far as I know, to be done by the witness) changes by an attorney via affidavit but federal rules do indicate, as mentioned before, redactions of SS#, bank account numbers, and a few limited other personal information.  There should be something in place to set the standard for post final production "reprints with redactions" including time/days after date of certification. 

We could all have lots of extra work in the future to do - gratis!!!

No, I didn't call the board.  I like working for this agency because they have great work.  If I make too much of a fuss, they'll not use me again.  I will say, however, it took me three hours to redact all of the confidential testimony and then make another transcript and just add the confidential testimony (the words) and page and line numbers.  Extremely tedious.  I also told them I didn't want to go back on this case again, as I was scheduled for it later in the month.  Way too much extra work. 

Yep, Kelli, same thing for my Conf/Non-conf transcripts' separation , 3 hours.  Ridiculous.

I guess my two cents roll with those (Amanda and Quyen?) who are wondering if it was agreed upon by all parties that those words should be redacted.  There should be a written stipulation or agreement by all those present that something should be either redacted or modified after the proceeding.  We can't even attached exhibits off the record; so I'm assuming there's some proof that this was requested an agreed to by all involved.  Opposing counsel would be ticked, I think, if they saw a transcript with unilateral redactions. 

I may be putting my foot in my mouth if agency owners read this, but if I ever get the vibe that an agency wants something done for the client in a way that may appear to question my objectivity, I just won't do it.  I do call the CRB for advice too, and I've NEVER mentioned names - only scenarios.  They're super helpful.  I do see myself as an extension of the court when it comes down to brass tacks.  I know there are client servicing issues and marketing issues, but I'll draw the line where I'm uncomfortable.  Plus, as a freelancer, I never know when I will get opposing counsel as a client. 

And, honestly, if someone hires me and their client is negligent or remiss in conducting a depo (I'm not saying that's what happened in your case necessarily) - it's not my job to pick up the pieces and place myself into a potentially adversarial position with the other parties.  So that's my main concern with this. 

Brava, Cynthia!

Thanks for the vote of confidence!  Sometimes it feels like I'm working in a vacuum - thank goodness for this site...

Federal court reporters perform redactions at no additional cost to the parties.  In the freelance world, there should be an additional hourly charge assessed for services rendered.  The intact confidential transcript should remain available and a transcript marked "redacted" should be produced.  It seems the reporting agency would place the signed, agreed-to notice of redaction in the firm's file and include a copy of it with delivery of the final certified as a separate attachment, provided to counsel of record.

Would opposing counsel be notified (given a copy) of redacted transcript as well?  

We reporters understand the importance of maintaining a good working relationship with attorneys/clients; however, when an attorney requests changes to a transcript at any time, I believe it is highly unethical.  Besides, if opposing counsel caught wind of such edits in the transcript, you would be called to task to explain why an accommodation was made.  Remember, our first and foremost obligation is to create an accurate transcript, and your name is on the certification.  I would have politely told the attorney making edits and changes in the record cannot be done and would hurt the integrity of the transcript.  I hope this piece of advice helps. 

I worked on this same case.  There was a stipulation among all parties at the deposition that the transcript would be sent to one of the attorneys for redactions prior to any distribution of the transcript.  This was highly sensitive information.  The procedure was agreed to by all parties.  I don't find anything unethical about the procedure at all.

I have also done the same thing when working on sensitive security information for the government.  They redact the transcript prior to its release. 

 

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