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I got this post from a friend of mine, and I'm posting it for her because she is clearly disturbed and wants other reporters to be aware of this situation. I already am, but maybe others are not so aware.
I had done a deposition for [reporting agency name] this week, and it's definitely not [reporting agency's name] fault and I'm not blaming them, but the attorney was from [law firm] in SF, [atty name], and the plaintiff's attorney was also from San Francisco. It was a group employee grievance against Rite-Aid. Because it was a So. Cal. case the attorney from [law firm] stipulated away the original to plaintiffs so then plaintiffs did not order a copy. Obviously we can't let this become a standard practice in No. Cal. We have to make sure the word gets out so that the attorney can never get another reporter to work for him again if he continues to make it a practice. What do you suggest?
Honestly, I can't remember how to get on your site. Are there other sites I can also put the word out? I'm pissssed. We both know if the atty. is from So. Cal., we're taking our chances but I recognized the plaintiff's attorney from other cases and I think of him as being a pretty nice guy and he definitely would have ordered a copy if [atty firm] didn't make the offer. Walk me through your site please and let me know of any other sites you may be aware of. I'm on a mission!
There's a court reporter on this site, Kelli, who I've worked for in the past who has a FANTASTIC 'addition' to her Cert page. It reads something like this: "That dismantling this transcript will void the court reporter's official certification of this transcript." Can't hurt, might help??
One way around it is to have a different, higher pay rate for "the So Cal stip." One of the firms I work for has that right on their rate sheet, and you made the same amount of money. I know I've heard a few other suggestions on different boards but I can't remember them. Try asking Cal-DRA maybe.
Most firms I work for in Northern California have instructed me to tell the Southern California attorneys that when they do that, they are charged a higher page rate (I'm making the same rate of pay as an 0&2) since they are giving our work away for free, which I think is one of the reasons Southern California reporters make a higher page rate.
Something I learned by a Southern California attorney, which a lot of you reporters may already know, Southern California attorneys stipulate the original because the code says the witness has to read the original, not a copy, and since most of the agencies are too far for a witness to drive to, our even out of state, that is why they stipulate the original.
A lot of times I have been lucky that the Northern California attorney will not agree to the stip, saying they don't do that here, we order our own copies. Either way, I do get paid the same whether stipulated or not (only if it's a Southern California attorney doing it).
I've tried the "Why are you financing the other side's litigation?" before. It worked a few times. One time in particular, I happened to have been working with the firm's NorCal managing partner. It was a class action, and I told him, "You've probably got HUNDREDS of witnesses to depose, WAY more than they do, so you're paying for all of their litigation." He said he hadn't thought about it that way and that he would talk to his SoCal office about that. The case ended up being an O & 2 for all the witnesses. WINNING!
Other times, the answer I usually get is, "If I do it for them, they'll do it for me." There are some, possibly many, SoCal attorneys who don't even know why they do the stip, as I've heard several say out loud, and other SoCal attorneys know exactly what they're doing -- the bottom line. One time, I told the attorney he pays more for his copy if he stips it away. He said he didn't care! In that case, a full copy should have been charged to him!
A firm that I work for charges a full copy to the party who stips away his/her copy. I try to remember to ask the firm(s) if the attorney is a SoCal attorney; if so, I turn down the job. One firm would pay nothing extra for the O & 1 when the copy is stipped away, so I turned down the job. I would rather not work at all than to have my work given away for free.
I like your style! Yes, I've been successful a few times talking the atty. out of stipulating away the original. But it was obvious at the time they knew what was going on and there was nothing postive to be said. It was clear I would have ended up losing that battle.
We've all been with So. Cal. attorneys who have stipulated away the original and it's a "my turn" to take the hit situation. That's what they're used to doing. It would be disasterous if the No. Cal. attorneys started regularly doing it too. I feel the same as you. I will not work for that atty again and I'd rather not work than have my work given away for free. I just hope we don't get into a situation of not having a choice anymore -- it becomes their practice. That's what really worries me.
What about the possibility of uploading the "Original" onto a repository for the witness to read at their convenience and having restrictions set so that it could not be printed, saved, a screen shot made, etc.? Would the rules allow that?
Yes, that's a good idea, Ann. But there is nowhere in the code that says the witness must be provided a copy to read and sign. All it says is that it must be made AVAILABLE. It's available -- IN THE CR OFFICE, if the witness's attorney doesn't order a copy. It's not our problem if it's "too far" or too inconvenient for the witness to travel to the office. If it were a short depo, I'm not sure I'd really care all that much. The E-Trans has a print lockout feature. Do they want to do a screen print of 100+ pages, if they're too cheap to pay for a copy? If they're that desperate, I say, knock yourself out.
pdf-it has a feature where you can e-mail a Read & Sign file to the deponent or their counsel. It allows the recipient to print only the pages I allow it print (the sig page and errata sheet). They're instructed to read the transcript, print and fill out the errata and sig page, then mail those pages to me so I can complete my task. I just recently sent one out for the first time -- I'm in SoCal and constantly have my original stipped to opposing counsel. I got to do this one b/c they're out-of-state counsel -- so hopefully it works as planned.
But I will say this about the "SoCal Stip." It does make my job easier, not having to comply with getting sigs and keeping everybody informed. I'm certainly not condoning it, just saying.
Mona Savino wrote an article for NCRA:
Maybe this will work:
OR---- type in this phrase in yahoo or google
WHO OWNS THE TRANSCRIPT - MONA SAVINO
I'm coming into this discussion late but when I worked in northern Calif and southern Calif attorneys would come up and try this, I always said, I'm sorry, but I do not agree to you stipulating away my responsibilities under the code. And I refused to send the original to the attorney. I had a couple argue with me, but never once in 18 years did I come across an attorney who did not back down quickly when I held my ground.
Maybe the code has changed. But it used to be that it was the COURT REPORTER'S duty and responsibility, not the attorney's. Therefore, the reporter is the only one who can stipulate something different. If there was any argument, which was always that the reporters in So Cal did it, I enlightened them that those reporters charged more because of it and while they may be willing to make that stipulation, I was not.