Over the last several decades, electronic communication technologies have revolutionized every aspect of our daily lives, from how we do business to how we meet new friends. The increased use of these technologies has led to questions about how electronic evidence can be used in court. While attorneys can use digital evidence as primary evidence in court, understanding how to use this evidence effectively requires understanding the California Rules of Evidence. Read on to learn more about electronic evidence and how to present electronic exhibits in court.
What Is Electronic Evidence?
Electronic evidence is any electronically stored information used as evidence in a trial or lawsuit. Types of electronic exhibits used in court include the following:
Text messages, and
Other files that are stored electronically, such as spreadsheets.
Electronic exhibits must adhere to the same rules and meet the same requirements as other types of evidence, including satisfying authentication, relevance, and hearsay rules.
How to Present Electronic Exhibits in Court
At the state level, California creates several obstacles that a piece of electronic evidence must overcome to be admitted.
The first major issue in the presentation of any electronic exhibits is authentication. California Evidence Code Section 1400 provides that any evidence, including electronic evidence, must be authenticated. Authentication establishes that the piece of evidence presented is what it claims to be. If a piece of evidence cannot be authenticated, it will be inadmissible. There is no requirement to prove the genuineness of the evidence, but it must be authenticated.
California Evidence Code section 210 provides that all evidence must be relevant to the facts or issues of the case. Relevant evidence means, “evidence relevant to the credibility of a witness or hearsay declarant, having any tendency in reason to prove or disprove any disputed fact that is of consequence to the determination of the action.” Section 350 of California’s Evidence Code permits the admission of only relevant evidence. A court deems digital evidence relevant if it makes a fact more or less probable than it would be without the evidence, and the fact the evidence addresses is of consequence to the determination of the action. If the evidence presented is not relevant to a fact or issue in the case, it is inadmissible.
California Evidence Code Section 1200 defines hearsay evidence as “evidence of a statement that was made other than by a witness while testifying at the hearing and that is offered to prove the truth of the matter stated.” While there are several exceptions to a raised hearsay objection, hearsay can be a challenging obstacle to overcome. If a piece of evidence does not qualify for a hearsay exclusion or exception, it will be inadmissible if it is being offered to prove the truth of the matter.
Secondary Evidence Rule
In the event an original document cannot be located to submit as evidence, California Evidence Code section 1521 permits that the content of a writing may be proved by “otherwise admissible secondary evidence.” When it comes to electronic evidence, an attorney may overcome this issue pursuant to California Evidence Code Section 750 if someone with personal knowledge of the writing verifies the content of the digital evidence presented.
With decades of combined experience in the litigation support business, Aptus Court Reporting provides a one-stop solution for your deposition and trial needs. We provide you with a nationwide network of accomplished staff, reporters, and videographers who can handle all of your needs from start to finish, in person, online, or over the phone. Contact Aptus Court Reporting today to find out how we can assist you.
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Conducting an international deposition can be tricky. But when you avoid key pitfalls, you can be confident you will get the testimony you need for your case.
Assuming a U.S. Deposition is Legal in Other Countries
The most essential step in organizing any international deposition is to find out whether you can legally hold a U.S. deposition in that country. Many countries have prohibitions or restrictions on depositions. For example, a deposition in China can be particularly difficult to perform because China does not allow foreigners to take depositions. A deposition in Japan must take place at a U.S. embassy or consulate. Additionally, Japan requires attorneys traveling for a deposition to obtain a special deposition visa.
Because restrictions on depositions vary so much by country, you will have to conduct country-specific research to determine the applicable procedures in the country where your witness is located. The U.S. Department of State website is a great resource for finding out this information and can give you a quick overview of the official rules before you schedule a deposition.
Failing to Consider Whether the Country Is Part of The Hague Evidence Convention
The Hague Evidence Convention allows you to enlist the help of a foreign court to compel the deposition of an overseas witness in countries that are parties to the agreement. Fifty-seven countries are parties to the Hague Evidence Convention. Thus, another essential step when planning a foreign deposition is determining whether the country where your witness is located has signed on to the Convention.
To use the Convention, you must start by asking a U.S. court to issue a letter of request seeking the deposition of your overseas witness. The letter of request must follow a specific format, found in Article 3 of the Convention, but it is very straightforward. The benefit of the Hague Convention is that foreign courts are generally obligated by the Hague Convention to carry out a letter of request.
Failing to Book a Local Court Reporter, Interpreter, and Videographer Early
At the very least, working with a local, certified and professional court reporter, videographer, and interpreter can help reduce travel costs. More importantly, you’ll be working with people who understand the culture of the country where you will be conducting your deposition. Professionals who are familiar with local communication norms and styles can help you more successfully navigate an international deposition. Working with local professionals will help ensure your team has the requisite cultural sensitivity and cultural competence to avoid offending the officials, attorneys, and witnesses you are interacting with. It is extremely important to plan as early as possible so that you can hire the right personnel. Remember that you might also need the services of a deposition translator. Give yourself ample time to research and schedule the professionals you need to help make conducting your foreign deposition easier.
Avoid Pitfalls with Aptus Court Reporting
With decades of combined experience, Aptus Court Reporting has been helping attorneys conduct successful depositions across the country. No matter where your cases take you, Aptus is a valuable resource to leverage along the way. Contact us online or by phone at 866-999-8310.
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With the emergence of new technologies and circumstances that prevent groups from gathering physically, options for legal proceedings have changed dramatically. If you are a litigator, you have likely already participated in remote trials, remote mediations, or even remote depositions.
Remote legal proceedings can provide much-needed convenience to a busy attorney’s schedule, but they are not without their drawbacks. Please read on to learn what to avoid during a remote deposition and how our sophisticated suite of trial support services at Aptus Court Reporting can help you.
Being Disorganized with Your Exhibits
Do you want remote technology to help and not hinder your legal work? If you do, sometimes you need to be more organized than usual. This can be especially true when it comes to your exhibit packages for a deposition.
Many attorneys opt to deliver digital exhibit packages to opposing counsel and deponents for remote depositions. This can streamline the process and cut costs. However, you must make sure that your digital packages are functional, easy to follow, and properly labeled before submitting them.
You can keep your electronic exhibit packages organized by placing well-labeled bookmarks in the document. To make sure the bookmarks are easy to follow, practice accessing them while reviewing your deposition outline. If the deponent is your client or witness, have them practice navigating your package while you ask questions.
Neglecting to Explore Your Technological Options Beforehand
Many remote deposition platforms and services have several technological features you can use to your advantage. For instance, if you are conducting a zoom deposition and a deponent cannot locate an exhibit from your electronic package, you can share your computer screen with the deponent to show them where you are. It is crucial to identify technological features like this and make sure you know how they work before you begin a deposition. This way, you can cut down on tense moments in an already adversarial proceeding.
Also keep in mind that, in general, court reporters are to preserve only the spoken record. In their written record, a reporter does not typically include descriptions of a deponent’s behavior or demeanor. But if you need this information, you can hire a videographer to capture nonverbal conduct during a deposition.
Being Unprepared for Technological Glitches
You might already have a tried-and-true method for conducting test runs of your deposition. But have you taken the time to conduct a test run with your remote deposition technology?
Testing your technology before remotely deposing a witness can help you avoid a number of serious issues, such as the appearance of unlawful witness coaching. How can technological glitches increase the likelihood of this issue?
Consider the following example: Imagine an attorney’s witness has an unexpectedly poor internet signal during a deposition, and the witness’s responses are constantly interrupted by buffering. This can quickly fluster an attorney and a witness who did not prepare for the issue.
After an interruption, an attorney might need to resubmit their question multiple times to get a clear record of the witness’s answer. And in re-asking their question, an attorney might be tempted to summarize what they were able to hear clearly from the witness. Opposing counsel could perceive this as unlawful coaching. If opposing counsel perceives unlawful coaching, they could request that a tribunal impose sanctions that prejudice a client and harm an attorney’s credibility. If you practice your deposition while using your remote technology, you can determine what technological issues you are likely to encounter. You can also develop a strategy for addressing glitches without risking your case’s integrity.
We Provide Full-Service Litigation Support for Your Remote Needs
Do you need a certified court reporter, remote court reporting, or legal transcription to aid you in your next deposition? We have the tools to help you at Aptus Court Reporting. We deliver state-of-the-art services for conducting effective remote depositions, including digital screen captures, videography, streaming text, and document sharing. We can also offer you case management services that include top-of-the-line customer service. Please call us at 866-999-8310 for more information.
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An attorney has many choices when it comes to choosing a court reporter. Here are our tips for choosing the best court reporter for your case’s needs.
1. Choose a Certified Reporter
Court reporters go through extensive training before becoming certified. When choosing a court reporter, it’s important to consider the type of training the reporter underwent as well as whether they passed the three-part licensing exam. The most reputable court reporters attend a state-approved school, requiring three to four years of training, and hold memberships in professional organizations.
2. Choose an Experienced Reporter
What does a court reporter do? is not as simple a question as attorneys may think. Some court reporters handle only trials, while others only have experience at depositions. When choosing a court reporter, it’s important to confirm the type of services a court reporter provides. Ask the reporter if they have a preference and determine whether that works for your particular case. At Aptus Court Reporting, our Calendar and Client Services team brings over 35 years of commitment and attentiveness to your deposition calendar. We provide not only trial and deposition services, but dedicated case management, online scheduling, and location research.
3. Choose a Reporter with Industry-Standard Fees
Some court reporters charge a rate per page, while others charge appearance fees. These costs vary depending on the region or state and on the types of services provided. Keep in mind that additional services may be included in the fee. For example, a freelance court reporter may charge the lowest rate per page, but you will not have the benefit of case management, online scheduling, or a complimentary space to prep a witness or hold your deposition.
4. Choose a Reporter with Flexible Availability
Having a court reporter who can be available after business hours or provide expedited services is invaluable. It is reassuring to know the reporter will be available whenever you need them. Larger court reporter companies, like Aptus, have a plethora of reporters ready to serve their client’s needs and, consequently, provide unmatched availability.
5. Choose a Reporter That Uses Technology Effectively
Electronic exhibits, remote depositions, streaming text, document sharing—technology is used in all aspects of court reporting. In this day and age, you must choose a firm that can keep up with changing times. At Aptus, we are at the forefront of litigation technology. We provide free and instant access to an online case portal and online management of calendar settings, transcripts, exhibits, and invoices—plus personal technical assistance. We use industry-standard software like Aptus Capture, vTestify, and LiveLitigation to provide the most up-to-date services.
6. Choose a Reporter That Goes Above and Beyond
With a complex case, your firm may need a wide array of deposition locations. Perhaps you need more than one conference room. Aptus provides complimentary mediation and trial conference rooms to cover your deposition or hearing. We also provide a Client Services Team that can help research locations if your case requires out of town depositions, leaving more time to focus on litigation.
7. Choose Aptus Court Reporting
Many large and well-respected firms regularly use Aptus’ services for their court reporting needs. Recently, we were able to assist with the presentation of hundreds of pieces of evidence for a bench trial within a few hours time. If we can handle the complex cases, rest assured we can handle any case. Call Aptus today at 866-999-8310.
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A deposition day can be just as significant as a trial day. Deposing a witness can help an attorney unearth information that guides their strategy or secure dispositive evidence. But there is no reason to be overwhelmed by this vital litigation tool. There are several deposition preparation steps you can take to help ensure you conduct a successful deposition.
1. Be Clear About the Scope of Your Deposition
As the United States District Court for the Northern District of California notes, a deposition’s purpose is to aid you in discovering more evidence for your case or help you preserve witness testimony. But don’t stop at concluding whether you need a deposition for discovery or testimony; you also need to decide what specific information you will seek from a deposition.
Once you determine your specific deposition needs, completing the remainder of your preparation becomes easier. If you know the scope, you know what questions to ask and how to manage your exhibits.
It is also helpful to be clear with opposing counsel about the scope of a deposition (without unnecessarily exposing your strategy). If you and opposing counsel understand the purpose of a deposition, there should be less opportunity for irrelevant objections and frivolous questioning.
2. Review Interrogatory Responses and Other Discovery and Evidence You Already Have
If you already have discovery from opposing counsel, review it before and after you establish the scope of your deposition. You should also evaluate the evidence you have from your own investigations. Knowing what evidence you currently have helps you refine your questions and save time and money during the deposition.
3. Make a Checklist of the Questions You Want to Ask and the Questions or Objections You Anticipate from Opposing Counsel
Even the best practitioner can become distracted during a deposition. Sometimes technology fails, witnesses give unexpected answers, or the other attorney challenges you more than you anticipated. By keeping a checklist of the information you need and noting each time you receive what you need, you can keep yourself calm and on task.
When your checklist includes questions and objections you anticipate from opposing counsel, you are more aware of what can go wrong and how to adapt. Your deposition checklist can also be a useful precursor and study tool for your trial preparation checklist.
4. Prepare Your Witness
Whenever you are taking testimony from your client or another witness, witness preparation is key. Not only do you want to go over your prepared questions and the scope of the deposition with your witnesses, but you also want to make sure your witness knows what to expect.
A deposition can be odd to a layperson. There is no judge present, and you are not in a courtroom. Your witness might observe you and the other attorney make several objections that receive no response and have confusing discussions about going off the record. This can quickly fluster the average witness and affect the quality of their testimony. To combat witness confusion, speak to them thoroughly about what happens during a deposition and what is expected of them when there are objections or exchanges about going off the record.
5. Choose a Good Location for the Deposition
A comfortable and professional setting for your deposition can make a world of difference to your outcome. A deposition room equipped with the proper technology for deposition recording and other tools you will need is an important asset. Depositions are stressful enough, so you don’t need the strain of an inadequate deposition location to hinder your goals. At Aptus Court Reporting, we can secure a deposition room that is ideal for your needs. This service is free of charge if you set your case with us.
Our Litigation Support Tools Have You Covered
You can find the deposition support you need at Aptus Court Reporting. Our pool of talented and reliable California court reporters can create clean and accurate records for your litigation purposes. We also provide top-notch technology for presenting evidence, conducting remote proceedings, and managing your case. Call us at 866-999-8310 to help with all your case preparation needs.
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The production of transcripts of legal processes is the principal responsibility of court reporters. It includes both in-court hearings and out-of-court depositions. However, the output of correct transcripts is insufficient; there are other ethical issues that court reporters need to consider to preserve the honor of their profession and stay compliant. This article explains how accountability for professional integrity for court reporters is so critical to the legal process.
The Importance of the Court Reporter’s Role
The court reporter has to ensure the accuracy and integrity of the legal process as the official record-keeper of court proceedings. They are trained professionals who use specialized equipment to record everything said in court verbatim.
Court reporters also ensure accurate records by using their specialized skills to produce documents written with clear words and sentences. When lawyers or judges make decisions about cases utilizing the information they heard during hearings, they need clear and readable records.
The National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) Sets Standards for Court Reporters
The NCRA is a professional association for court reporters in the United States. The NCRA promotes integrity, ethics, and professionalism among its members. The NCRA has a code of conduct that should be adhered to by all members.
This code includes standards for ethical behavior, such as honesty, fairness, and respect for others. Violating the code of conduct can result in disciplinary action from the NCRA, including expulsion from the organization.
Capturing and Maintaining an Unbiased Record
Court reporters play an essential role in any legal system by providing an accurate record of proceedings. To maintain the integrity of this record, court reporters must adhere to a strict code of ethics. This code includes principles such as honesty, impartiality, confidentiality, and accuracy. A court reporter should also be able to listen well, understand English grammar, and take notes accurately and quickly.
Court reporters must be impartial, meaning they cannot have any personal stake in the proceedings’ outcomes. They must also report on proceedings objectively, without any personal biases or opinions getting in the way. Additionally, court reporters must keep confidential information confidential. It includes not only information presented in court but also the information they may learn about the parties involved outside of court.
Avoiding Conflict of Interest
A conflict of interest exists when a court reporter has a financial or personal interest in the outcome of a proceeding. For example, a court reporter should not accept gifts from attorneys or litigants involved in a case. Additionally, court reporters should not socialize with attorneys or litigants outside of work. If you are friends with someone involved in a case, it is best to disclose this information to the attorney or judge overseeing the proceedings.
Court reporters are responsible for safeguarding the accuracy of transcripts, that is, adhering to a strict code of ethics and maintaining the highest standards of integrity. Court reporters must also be impartial and objective in their work. To ensure the accuracy of transcripts, court reporters must be competent in their skills and knowledge. They must also be able to keep up with the ever-changing technology to produce accurate transcripts.
You will often access sensitive information when working as a court reporter. It is essential to maintain confidentiality and not share any information you are not supposed to. The best way to do this as a reputable court reporter is to keep a professional attitude and be discreet when discussing cases with others. If you are ever in doubt about whether or not you should share something, be cautious and don’t speak up.
Aptus Court Reporting provides the most talented and trustworthy services with expert court reporters, personalized attention, and full-service court reporting coverage. Please get in touch with us to handle your case. And if you’re an experienced court reporter with top-notch integrity and expertise, talk to us too; we’ll help you put your prowess into meaningful practice.
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Our new office affords us the ability to better serve our loyal customers and streamline the work we do with our valuable business partners. We look forward to continuing to serve your needs from our new location.
With over 35 years of combined experience in the litigation support business, Aptus provides a one-stop solution for your deposition and trial needs.
Questions? Contact us at 866.999.8310 or via Email.
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There is no doubt the world we live in today is video-driven. It exists everywhere there is human activity. The legal field is no exception. Most attorneys today rely on video depositions as an effective tool to make their work easier.
Video depositions play a significant role in pre-trial discovery and overall trial prep. Expect the following benefits as you consider video for all your depositions.
1. Demonstrate a Witness’ Body Language
Video evidence is a powerful way to get a glimpse at body language, allowing attorneys to present a compelling case. If you only submit a deposition transcription in the record trial, you fail to show the jury the witness’s spontaneous reactions, body language, and emotional state.
You fail to show the pregnant pauses, angry glares, and nervous fidgeting. With a video deposition, you show your witness’s full demeanor when they testify. These are important to the jury or when you are preparing your team for trial.
2. Video Depositions Are More Cost-Effective
Video depositions can save you costly expert witness fees and travel expenses. In most cases, you will require an expert opinion from a doctor or a highly qualified and respected witness. These services are expensive, especially if your witness must travel long distances to attend trial sessions that could last several days.
Using a video testimony allows you to present the words any time during proceedings and repeated sessions;- it will save you a lot of money in the long run.
3. Preparing For Trial
Video depositions are valuable tools outside the courtroom too. You can use the video for reference when deciding who to use as witnesses at trial or when preparing a direct cross-examination of the witnesses. You can review the video beforehand and make accurate assessments during preparation and when you plan and fine-tune your trial presentation.
4. Hold the Jury’s Attention
When presenting evidence, the last thing you want to see is jurors losing interest. In the modern age, people are conditioned to pay attention to video as they see it everywhere, from televisions at home to YouTube on their smartphones.
You can keep your jurors attentive to the video screen for long periods with video depositions. They are also likely to pay attention and understand the depositions better than listen to a transcript read from a record.
5. Impeaching a Witness
Changing witness testimony is common in courtrooms. If you have video depositions, you can impeach them without hassle. Seeing the witness make an obvious different statement from what they did before will have a significant impact than simply reading from a written transcript testimony.
Is A Video Deposition Right For Your Case?
There is no question that the world has changed in the past few years. More than ever, most people rely on video for entertainment and education. These have found their way into jury boxes worldwide.
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently reported that individuals who study video evidence find it more modest but meaningful and authentic than text. The same individuals also pay more attention to video evidence presented in a mix of textual and video evidence.
Now is a good time for litigators to reconsider the adage ‘seeing is believing’ that applies to court cases. A strategic video deposition will increase your presentation effectiveness and offer your client better results. With effective planning, you can use video depositions in your pre-trial prep to get the maximum benefit from this technology.
At Aptus Court Reporting, we want to help you succeed in your next deposition by scheduling it the way you want it designed. You can rely on our videography services, video streaming, and effective depositions technology to improve your presentations. Contact our video team to learn more about our videography & deposition recording services.
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Aptus Founders Derek Berg and Patrick Conolly, with Partner Ashley Walton, reflect on the founding of Aptus Court Reporting, important milestones, how the court reporting industry has changed, and what the future holds on their 10-Year Anniversary.
Jaclyn Swe: Hi, everyone, I’m Jaclyn Swe with Aptus Court Reporting. For our 10 year anniversary, we’re going to have a brief conversation with our founding partners, Derek Berg, Ashley Walton and Patrick Connolly. And if you guys could go ahead and introduce yourself, that’d be great. Let’s start with Derek.
Derek Berg: Sure. Thanks, Jaclyn, what a tremendous achievement to reach our 10 year anniversary. We’re all very excited about that. My name is Derek Berg, I’m the president of Aptus Court Reporting. I’ve been in the legal field since the late 90s, started in discovery management, in customer service, and was fortunate enough to kind of work my way up through the ranks. And in 2011, had an opportunity to open Aptus, reached out to the folks on this call and we were able to coordinate and put together strategic efforts to fund our wonderful organization. So we’re excited to be here.
Ashley Walton: And I’m Ashley Walton, and I have been in the legal field since 2006., and worked with Teris and our previous company, and I live in Raleigh, North Carolina now and helping them grow our east coast presence. And I’m just so proud of this team and excited for what we have over the next 10 years.
Patrick Conolly: And my name is Patrick Conolly and based out of San Diego. And like Derek, I was in the legal services back in the late 90s. I met Derek back in those days and 2011, as Derek said, he approached myself and some other partners, and we decided to open up Aptus. Currently I’m just doing business development in San Diego.
Jaclyn Swe: Great. So just going over a few questions that we have prepared to celebrate and highlight the last 10 years. Derek and Pat, you guys touched on this a little bit, but if you could go into it a little bit deeper, how you guys decided to start Aptus Court Reporting, why court reporting, and why in 2011?
Derek Berg: Well, Pat might actually tell the story better than I do. But we often will introduce ourselves as one time being frenemies. And so we not only competed against each other in the legal discovery space, but he actually competed with my wife, Jessica as well. And so we were competitors for the better part of 10 years. And I ended up transitioning over to the court reporting side and learning that side of the business by way of an acquisition. And while learning the deposition services side, opportunities arose where we had a unique opportunity to try our luck at branching out on our own. And so with that, we decided to join forces versus competing against each other. And so I wish it was that easy. But eventually, we decided that we would partner up and forge ahead, and it’s just been a wonderful ride. I value our relationship, as well as Stefan, who is another partner in the business. And as it relates to Ashley, we go even further back. In fact, my wife and her dad, were best friends. And so Jessica and Ashley grew up together. And while at my previous company, I had an opportunity to look at Ashley in a sales role when she lived in Arizona, and she came on board and just absolutely did an amazing job. And so when we branched forward with Aptus, and opened our doors, she was our first call to come on board and really help us chart this path. And so collectively between us three and Stefan Wickstrom, 10 years, we keep saying is an awesome accomplishment. It’s gone by so quickly, I think that’s attributed to our great relationships.
Patrick Conolly: And I think 2011 as you mentioned, Jaclyn was definitely not a great year to open up a company. Obviously the market was… the economy was down, but we felt no time like the present we’d talked about it in the past. And as Derek mentioned, you know, we were longtime friends. I think at the end of the day, I was getting most of the big deals, so he realized that that we should we should join forces. Not true, Derek was getting most of the deals, but it was a great time. It was great timing. And so it worked out. I mean, to be quite honest, it was just a perfect time.
Jaclyn Swe: Well, 10 years gives us a lot of memories to look back on. And if you had to pick, can you share any milestones or big wins? What made you realize that we were, you know, finally on the map and a force to be reckoned with?
Patrick Conolly: Well, well, for me, I think I didn’t officially join the company till 2014. But in 2011, I was the managing partner of a company called Teris, which was in the e-discovery and the copy scan world. And at that current time, we decided that we were going to have the Aptus production floor on our production floor. So a few years later, when Aptus actually got the real production floor, that was a very big win.
Ashley Walton: For multiple reasons.
Jaclyn Swe: Ashley, what about you? Can you share any big wins or milestones that you remember fondly over the last 10 years?
Ashley Walton: Yeah. There’s a lot, but a few that come straight to mind. You know, we always talk about when we come into our office and One America Plaza, and, you know, the beautiful view of the bay, and, but that’s not where we started. So, you know, kind of thinking about, like, our first office and our first landline and our, you know, Derek, and I answering the phones and arguing over, “Will you do scheduling today? No, you do it. Well, I’m gonna stay late, and I’m gonna handle the phones until five, but you have to do it on Friday night.” You know, just things like that. It just was definitely a startup culture. And I think that, you know, our hires, like, you know, hiring Stephen, who I don’t know, you know, not everybody that’s watching maybe knows Stephen, but he knows all of our reporters, and a lot of our clients know him very well, because he’s handled so much of our business. And so I felt like when we when we hired Stephen, and when we hired you, Jac, and Sandy, I think those were moments where we kind of all looked at each other and went, “Wow, like this is… we’re moving in the right direction,” you know, so, and then obviously, moving into One America Plaza, like that was a big moment. So those are ones that stick out to me.
Jaclyn Swe: DB. What about you? Do you have any milestones that you want to share?
Derek Berg: Yeah, I think the five year anniversary was a big one. I could remember when we first opened Aptus, court reporters coming up to me, as Pat mentioned, it wasn’t a really good time, 2011, to open a business. And they would often ask me if I was crazy, or if we were crazy for opening a business in 2011. And that rhetoric changed. And specifically when we hit five years, because you always hear the statistics that 50% of businesses fail before their five year anniversary. So when we hit that one, that was key. Another major milestone really kind of came internally from the sales team, in that we used to ask them, what was precluding them from getting work? And they would say, “Well, people just don’t understand our brand. They haven’t heard of Aptus yet.” And so that became kind of a wall that we needed to punch through. And when we stopped hearing that, I kind of knew we had arrived, we knew that we had the technology. And we knew that we had the customer service, we knew that we had the infrastructure to really go out and not only compete but excel against the big house shops, and just create a better client experience as a result. And so those are some defining moments that really resonate with me.
Jaclyn Swe: That’s a perfect segue into my next question, which is court reporting has changed a lot over the last 10 years, and even in the last couple of years. So I mean, what, what guides you guys? What guides us as a company to make sure that we’re staying, you know, on top of the technologies that are being offered, and kind of staying up on top of what’s going on in the profession with the changes that have been going on? Derek, do you want to start?
Derek Berg: Well I think from day one, we gave our background, but we’re a litigation support company that really focused on technology and embracing technology. So we saw a key differentiator when we entered the court reporting space that we could really enhance the client experience by not being just a nine to five; being a shop that’s open truly 24/7 that embraces technology. And so what do you mean by embracing technology? Well, we really created a foundation for growth, we’ve invested not only in technologies, but more importantly, our people. We’ve have a lot of folks on staff, that their primary roles are making sure that we stay ahead of the technology curve. And so it’s helped us scale with the tremendous amount of growth we’ve experienced. But it’s also again, I’ve mentioned it earlier in a previous question, but it’s allowed us to compete against the big houses by embracing technology. And so we were cut from that cloth with the discovery side of the business. And so we deployed a lot of those methodologies into court reporting.
Jaclyn Swe: Great Ash, do you have anything you want to add?
Ashley Walton: I just think, you know, a guiding kind of principle for us has been, you know, that we really cherish our relationships with our reporters, and, you know, kind of lean on them to be a part of the team instead of a lot of the other court reporting companies, you know, they’re truly independent contractors, and they are independent contractors for us as well. But just, I think we do a good job at making them a part of our team and really leaning on them for whatever it is to make sure that our clients are well taken care of, and that our team is working cohesively together. So yeah. And I think taking care of, you know, hiring really good people, and then knowing that the clients and the reporters are going to be taken really good care of also.
Patrick Conolly: Yeah, just real quick last year, I think we give our people the opportunity to look outside the box, they have, you know, ample opportunity to find out what new technologies are we we ask people to look outside the box. You know, we reward them that way, also. So we find that giving people that freedom really helps us know, what’s moving, what’s going on, you know, in technology.
Jaclyn Swe: So 10 years down many more to go. What is the next exciting chapter for Aptus? Derek? Let’s start.
Derek Berg: Well, that’s a great question. And so I tried to pull out my crystal ball this morning to figure out that question really, what the answer looked like. But I think it’s to continue to support really two things that allows us to kind of get where we started to where we are today. And, you know, we look at ourselves as facilitators. And so we want to provide the folks that work for us, the ample tools to be successful. And so if people are hitting a wall, or they’re not growing, or they’re not stimulated, they’re not motivated, then we really look kind of internally at ourselves and say, “Hey, what are some things we’re not doing correctly?” versus kind of putting it back on the employee. So we really look at becoming facilitators, giving people the tools to be successful and getting out of their way. And then ultimately, what’s going to determine where we’re at in 10 years, and this is a philosophy that stuck with us since day one. And that is, court reporting historically has been a very guarded industry with regards to information, because folks are 1099, and they have the opportunity to work for different agencies. We really support the philosophy that we want people to want to work for us. We don’t want people to feel like they have to work for us. And so if we continue to do those two things in 10 years, boy, again, a very great question. You know, I’d like to see us continuing to grow in the marketplace. Eventually, as you mentioned earlier, building our presence in other regional areas, such as the East Coast, and taking it day by day by day and seeing where we ultimately end up.
Jaclyn Swe: Pat, what about you? What do you see as the next exciting opportunity for Aptus?
Patrick Conolly: Well, definitely growth, some of the great things that we’ve done, we’ve recruited wonderful people. I mean, our biggest strength is the people that we’ve recruited. And obviously California is our main stake right now. But you know, we have Ashley on the East Coast, and there’s many other places that we can expand and find wonderful people. So I think, expansion and growth and I think that’s the most exciting part to me.
Jaclyn Swe: Ash, what about you?
Ashley Walton: I mean, I think the guys covered, you know, the things that I’m most excited about also, but you know, expanding our reach with the reporters and just being able to evolve with the technology as You know, the business is shifting certainly in regards to more people taking depositions from anywhere. And it’s interesting with COVID, how it’s changed the business, but certainly hasn’t slowed down. So it’s definitely different. And it’s going to be exciting to kind of see how much more we can take on with, you know, not having to maybe have, you know, the physical pieces that we needed in past years, or businesses or whatever, you know.
Jaclyn Swe: Yeah
Patrick Conolly: That’s good point.
Jaclyn Swe: Well, any final thoughts, any final shout outs as we celebrate our 10 years?
Derek Berg: I think in closing, I’d like to specifically thank everyone that has chosen to come aboard at Aptus. I’ve taken some notes, and there are at least 25% of the employees that work for Aptus that have been with been with me, specifically, for over 20 years, since the late 90s, and I think there’s something to be said for that. I mean, we work hard, we play hard. And we’re in this together, we support each other through the good and difficult times. And I think that shows in our tenure, and when people come on board at Aptus, they generally stay and they want to be here, again, not have to be here. So probably the defining moment, and what I’m most proud of, is that we have folks who come on board and they stay, and they don’t stay in the same position. So we like to promote from within. And again, it’s a family, and the tenure really speaks for that. So that’s what I’d like to make sure I highlight.
Patrick Conolly: Yeah, and we’re still having fun. You know, I think everybody still enjoys each other. And, you know, unfortunately, a lot of us aren’t coming to work right now working from home. But a company culture is still strong. And you know, we’re still trying to have fun, do the zoom meetings and, and these different activities that we’re trying to try to keep the group together, but you know, I’m still having fun. You know, I work with Derek every day, I know Derek’s having fun. And we just kind of hear it through some of the activities that the team is putting together. And just, anyway, still very excited.
Ashley Walton: Yeah, and I just would mimic the same. You know, our team makes it really such a wonderful place to be a part of and, you know, to say thank you doesn’t really feel like enough to the people that took a chance on us early on, you know, the reporters that took a chance on us. But, you know, they they met with us and they maybe thought in the back of their mind, “Do they really know what they’re doing?” But they’ve, they’ve stuck with us and it’s just been super fun to watch, grow and to be a part of it.
Jaclyn Swe: Yeah, it’s been really exciting. I’ve been here for eight plus years at this time, so it’s been a fun journey. And I think that’s a great place for all of us to close it. Thank you guys for your time and for sharing some of the stories and the highlights in the last 10 years. Um, to everyone watching if you want to learn more about after score reporting, you can go to our visit our website www.aptuscr.com Thanks, guys. Happy anniversary!
All parties involved in a deposition, including the court reporter, would agree that in-person depositions run more smoothly than remote depositions. However, as much as we’d all like to return to in-person depositions, it’s clear that remote depositions are here to stay, at least for 2021.
How 2020 Changed Depositions, Arbitrations, and Trials
At the beginning of 2020, it was business as usual for litigators, judges and court reporters with a majority of depositions taking place in person. When in-person depositions, arbitrations, or trials were not feasible, at a minimum the court reporterwas in the same location as the witness to ensure accurate testimony.
When the pandemic hit in March of 2020, non-essential services started shutting down. Businesses moved to remote working, and many law offices paused or delayed any upcoming depositions or trials. For many of these firms, these delays were thought to be temporary. Once the scope and severity of the pandemic set in, however, it became clear that all depositions and trials could not be delayed in hopes of a return to in-person proceedings.
New Laws Dealing with Remote Proceedings
The most significant change coming from the pandemic is that remote proceedings will continue to be the norm in 2021. Recent legislation has equipped all parties, including court reporters, to conduct proceedings remotely. In some states, new laws were enacted to provide accommodations for remote trials, arbitrations, and depositions. An example is California S.B. 1146 which went into effect in September of 2020. The new law states:
“…a deponent is not
required to be physically present with the deposition officer when
being sworn in at the time of the deposition, and that any party or attorney of
record may, but is not required to, be physically present at the deposition at
the location of the deponent, subject to any protective order issued by the
Based on new legislation passing and current events, we can
assume then it may be some time yet until we return to in-person depositions
Delays Are Not Acceptable
While remote depositions and trials can come with some challenges, going remote is not a plausible reason to delay in 2021. As many industries have accepted remote meetings as the norm, attorneys, judges, and court reporters are not an exception. As such, proceedings or trials can no longer be delayed simply because they can take place remotely.
Adapt and Learn Technology
According to the ABA model rules, attorneys are expected to
“keep abreast of the changes in the law and its practice, including the
benefits and risks associated with relevant technology…”
In addition to adapting to remote proceedings, all participants in depositions, trials, and arbitrations need to learn the technology that supports remote meetings. In 2021, all attorneys and court reporters must learn and effectively use remote meeting tools. Judges presiding over cases in 2021 will expect that all attorneys adapt and learn the necessary technology.
Mitigate Flaws in Technology
Even with its advancements, technology can still have pitfalls. Navigating
these flaws will be key to successful remote depositions and
One way to handle these potential pitfalls, as many attorneys discovered, is to take the extra time needed to test and learn the technology. Additionally, witnesses require more technical assistance and training for depositions. Although attorneys are experienced in preparing witnesses to answer questions during a deposition, they will now need to also invest time in training them on the technology and new preparation techniques used during remote depositions.
While we don’t know when we will be able to transition back to in-person proceedings, we do predict remote meetings likely won’t go away altogether. For this reason, in 2021, it’s critical that attorneys, judges, court reporters and witnesses exercise more patience and collaboration in all proceedings. By working together, embracing the technology and allowing more leeway, we can ensure more successful remote meetings. Aptus Court Reporting is here to streamline your remote depositions and trials. Schedule a demo on our related products, or contact us today to learn more.
https://r2b4a1.a2cdn1.secureserver.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/qtq80-ubWV7A.jpeg?time=167954997114402160garromarketinghttps://r2b4a1.a2cdn1.secureserver.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/APTUS-OFFICIAL-Horizontal-margin-300x112.pnggarromarketing2021-02-04 09:10:542021-11-05 21:39:04What Court Reporting Will Look Like in 2021
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