FWIW: I don't work in CA, so any input I have is from my own experience as an official.
First off is it a civil or criminal trial? Where I am from VD is not always taken. It is up to counsel and the court if they want a record of that. For that matter, sometimes even opening statements, opening instructions to the jury by the court, and closing instructions by the court are waived. So I always ask if VD and etc., is to be taken. Actually depending on the case it's an automatic assumption on my part that everything WILL be done.
Keep track of your exhibits!! The CRs here have complete control over exhibits. Maybe someone from CA can chime in?
Ask the other officals if the judge has any quirks that you need to know about (assuming you've never worked wtih he/she before). Be friendly to the office staff. See if you can look at the file beforehand for propers, etc. Makes it much easier down the road.
Figure out how you're going to do bench conferences. Will you need a mic extension and a headset?
Bring some aspirin, Tylenol or something! You will need it! Lastly, I hope you have a place you can camp out when you're not in the courtroom other than the judge's chambers. BOIT, bring something with you to eat and drink.... you'll need to keep your stamina up!
Thanks for your response, Shelley! I'll try depoman. I had my first day today. I'm definitely bring Tylenol tomorrow. It's a civil matter, and we did jury selection and opening statements today. I'm enjoying it a lot! It's a nice change of pace from law and motions. Thanks again for your input!
If you are doing empanelment of the jury, get the list of prospective jurors beforehand. Go through and create briefs for any unusual names. Be sure you have any easy stroke for the jurors for colloquy when they are questioned by the judge.
Whatever you do, relax, even if they're talking fast. Focus on relaxing your body. You'll have more speed if you can do it. As soon as you stiffen, you lose speed.
I haven't worked in court for a while, but I loved the trials. It was exciting being a part of the process.
Sarah, though I'm now retired, I did jury trials (many, many long ones) for approximately 25 years in California and through the years the rules changed as to how the jurors' responses appeared in a finished transcript.
It used to be that you would list their names in the transcript, i.e., JUROR JONES:, JUROR SMITH:, etc. But now you are not allowed to reveal the names of the jurors in the transcript. The 'old' way was easier for the reporter because you merely put the last names of the jurors in the transcript.
Since you can no longer indicate the name of the jurors, it gets a little more complicated. The way I did it was BEFORE the 12 jurors (and however many alternates) were sworn in to hear the actual trial, I used their juror badge numbers to identify them. The complete list of the prospective jurors and their badge numbers can be gotten from the courtroom clerk. If the clerk doesn't give it to you automatically, then you must ask for it.
You should always have a jury seating chart, also supplied by the courtroom clerk. Make sure to ask the clerk how that particular court numbers the jurors' seats, because all courtrooms don't follow the same seating format.
Once the jury has been impaneled, you can either use their juror seat number, i.e., Juror No. 1:, Juror No 9:, Alternate Juror No. 1:, and so on; or you can continue to identifiy them by their juror badge number, i.e, Juror No. 143789:, and so forth.
Ask some of the other reporters who work with you how they do it, but seems to me the Court Reporter Assignment Office in the court where you work should have given you some training or information as to how to do it.
I know it was long, but I hope my two cents have been helpful to you.
Heads up on the Jury Instructions!! After closing arguments come jury instructions. Don't panic! The Judge has read them a thousand and one times, so it will seem lightning fast. Ask your Clerk to let you copy the jury instructions prior to them being given to the jury. If you should happen to get an order on this trial, at least you will have a copy of them. After doing enough trials, you will know these jury instructions in your sleep and you'll be able to write the words before the Judge speaks them.
Well, the main thing I've learned is to always direct any question you have to the judge. If the attorneys ask you to read back, look at the judge and wait for him/her to say you should read back or not. Don't just start reading back. I learned that one the hard way!!!
Just relax, too! Concentrate on your job and pretend there's no other people there looking at you. The jurors are usually just amazed at what you do and how you do it. Good luck to you!