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I was talked into taking a doctor deposition that I did not want. I was told by the agency that the hiring attorney spoke very quickly, and not to stop her. I didn't want to take the job, but the agency was panicked, so I agreed. She said to bring a recording device, and make absolutely sure not to ask the attorney to repeat anything, or to slow her down. This was at the hiring attorney's request.
Well, fast-forward to the deposition. During the job, the attorney was speaking so fast that I was dropping entire sentences. I began to panic, because I was instructed not to stop her. Any experienced reporter knows that sometimes, our audio can fail or be distorted, so frankly, I was worried.
A different agency told me not to stop attorneys on the admonitions or on the stipulations because you can piece it together later. I had a job recently where the attorney was speaking so fast, that you literally could not tell one word from the other. And opposing counsel was giving me sideways glances like, "I know you're not getting this." And I wasn't. I've been trained not to stop the attorneys during the admonitions.
I've heard horror stories about attorneys' reactions to court reporters slowing them down. What is the best approach to slowing down a fast-speaking attorney? Do you take a break and do it, or do you confront them right there?
One more comment: In your certification, add that you were instructed not to interrupt the attorney/proceedings and that neither you nor the agency will be held liable for any omissions and/or inaccuracies. Attorneys who speak so fast that they are unintelligible and don't want to be interrupted are beyond arrogant and selfish. They speak fast -- in this case, at a doctor depo -- because they want to reduce the cost for their time with the doctor--on the reporter's back and at the reporter's expense! UNACCEPTABLE.
I did have an attorney one time in a depo tell me he did not want me to interrupt. The witness had a terrible, heavy Asian accent and I could not understand him. I told the attorney to put on the record he did not want me to interrupt to clarify the record.
After I got that on the record, I just put (inaudible) through the whole transcript. He can pay me to give him a useless transcript. Fine.
That was smart! I'm using that if I'm ever in the same situation.
Thanks you guys for your wonderful insights. I've made a mental list of how I'm going to handle this very serious problem the next time it happens. No matter how much I prepare myself, it still feels awkward!
Wow. I hear you. I have to say, I'm 18 years into this gig, and I just say no. I have these fast talking folks all the time and I just say no. I'm not going. You hang in there. I'm sure you did your best, which is all any of us can!
Just reading these posts is making my blood pressure rise! I like the idea of having the atty state on the record that the reporter is not to interrupt, and the reporter customizing her certificate to reflect the circumstances she was forced to work under. I remember years ago the enforcement officer of the Calif. CR board advising that very thing. Maybe we should have a little blurb ready to insert into the transcript showing the reporter stating that on the record, that counsel will not slow down despite repeated requests, she is having trouble understanding his speech, will be forced to insert [unintelligible speech] in the record, etc.