I am in Los Angeles, have been reporting for almost 20 years, and I was always taught and have always tried to sit at the head of the table, with the witness on one side of me and the questioning atty on the other side, directly across from the witness. Then the wit's atty sits on the other side of him or her. No one ever questions it and almost always will seat themselves that way if I'm not there first (which is rare). Anyway, I did a depo the other day for two attys from Texas and they were expecting the witness to sit at the head of the table, it seemed. I've never even thought of doing it any other way except once in a while with a video where due to the placement of the table, they need the wit at the head of the table, in which I case I sit on one side of the wit and the questioning atty sits on my other side.

What is the traditional setup where you live? Is it different? I'm just very curious to see what is the custom, if there is one, in other places.

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I normally sit at the head of the table. I am slanted somewhat in the direction of the witness with my equipment set up so that I can scoot forward if I am having difficulty hearing the witness. A few times, I have had frail witnesses who found keeping their voice up to be very hard work. So it worked well. I have explained this preferred seating arrangements several times to attorneys who seemed to want something else. This has also worked well since I make sure to mention that this will make it less likely that I will need to interrupt.

In video deps, usually the witness is at the head of the table with the videographer at the foot. I will be to one side of the witness. The questioning attorney sits opposite me. Never had any problems with this setup.
Yeah, I always face the witness too. Where in the country are you? Just wondering if it's a Cali thing.
San Francisco Bay Area. Not sure if my way of doing things is hidebound, but it seems to be what everyone expects.

The exception is a doctor's office. You just cram in as best you can, hopefully nearest to the doctor who's testifying. It's tough on everyone if the office doesn't have a conference room, and you just have to be a sport, so to speak.
Oh, yeah, I did a dentist's depo once where there were a couple extra people (the plf and her niece who wanted to be a lawyer) all crammed into an examining room! I perched my laptop on the sink and the dentist actually sat in her own examining chair normally for patients! Not fun but luckily only about an hour and a half.
Louisiana here. I always sit at the head of the table unless it's a video depo. Of course, which end of the table depends on where the nearest electrical outlet is. Attorneys here are very accommodating. Even in Dr. depos, they always give me first choice of seating because they say I'm the most important person in the room and they want me to be comfortable. No arguments here!
I usually defer to the atty who "hosts" the depo as some of them have a preference of where/how they want me to set up. If there is no preference, I will sit at the head of the table facing the witness with the q'ing atty at my back. The witness' atty typically sits to the left of their client (facing them, my right) in NY.
I did Workers' Comp for six years. The set up there was (long table). The Judge had his desk at the end, the witness was at the head at the other end. The attorneys (and whoever came with them) were across from each other. I sat at the corner of the table (not at the head, not on the side). When I did depositions it was the same, long table, witness at head, attorneys across from each other on side, me at corner of table.
I'm in S.F./Valley area and I always sit at the head of the table, unless a video. The attorneys always ask where I want everyone to sit.
Hmm, I'm Oklahoma and I've always done it the same way. I do get attys asking me which side of the table I prefer they sit, but it honestly doesn't matter to me.
Well, at least you knew where you stood with this yahoo. Good for you for standing up to him. How can we expect anyone to respect us if we don't respect ourselves?
Kelli --

Most excellent! Thanks for posting that.

I've heard stories of new reporters meeting a butthead attorney like this one you handled so well, and then, after spending all that money for their training, software, and equipment, they just quit.

Hate to see that happen.

Your story is an inspiration to all new reporters!

"For a Good (steno) Time ...."
That's hilarious! Good for you. I don't think I would have had the nerve to put it that way. I think I would have said something like well, I hope you don't care what your client says either, because if I can't hear him, it's not getting on the record.


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