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THE LAST WORD by Don Bays MY
The Amazing Court Reporters
I’ve found court
reporters to be
unflappable, even when
during a deposition.
I have testified at dozens of depositions and always
had a court reporter present to transcribe my testimony. In
my earlier days of testifying in a courtroom, a court reporter
was always present. Nowadays, court reporters in the court-
room are a rare sight. The
courtrooms in Maricopa
County Arizona Supe-
rior Court, for example,
generally use microphones for the
judges, attorneys and witnesses.
Testimony is electronically transcribed. The words spoken in the
courtroom are now recorded on
Whenever I’ve given a deposition, I am always amazed and
impressed at how effortlessly the
court reporters restate my testimony on those little typewriter-thingy machines they peck away at.
Oh, alright, I looked up the official
name of the gadgets and found they seemed to be called stenographs, or
stenography machines. Whatever they are called, it takes a skilled court
reporter to make them hum.
I look with wonder at the court reporters—mostly women but sometimes men—and how their nimble fingers fly as I am spouting off whatever it is that I’m testifying about. I am thinking there is no possible
way the reporter could type all that I just said and have it come out in
some intelligible written document later on. No way. Yet, in the end,
their wonderfully assembled written reports had accurately transcribed
the words that I thought were uttered too quickly.
I’ve also found, for reasons unknown to me, the reporters are always
courteous, friendly and calm. Maybe these traits are acquired in Court
Reporting 101. Or, it could simply be that these are the characteristics of
the types of person who seeks court reporting as a profession.
Court reporters never appear to get rattled or allow themselves to
be jaundiced by the high emotions and sometimes caustic and hurtful
remarks from both the witness being deposed and the opposing
attorney asking the questions. I had one court reporter tell me of
the time that he was transcribing at a deposition when the witness, an elderly gent in his early 80s, decided he’d had enough of
the perceived badgering by the opposing attorney. He suddenly
reached for the pitcher of ice water in the middle of the conference room table and tossed its contents onto the stunned and
I wonder how the court reporter accounted for this in his transcript. I thought it must have gone something like this:
Q. So you admit that it was a very unreasonable—strike that;
a very dumb—strike that; a very stupid thing you chose to do. Isn’t
that right, Sir?
Don Bays, CPA, ABV, CVA, CFF, is a
Director in Henry & Horne’s Litigation
& Valuation Services Group in
Scottsdale, Ariz. He can be reached
A. Why you dirty #@!%&*! I’ll show you
Next, I wondered how the court reporter
would make written note of what he’d just
witnessed. Surely, this event was so significant that it had to, somehow, be noted in
the old guy’s deposition. I thought the incident might have been recorded by the court
reporter something like this:
(The witness suddenly picks up the pitcher
of ice cold water, with several ice cubes in it,
which was sitting in the middle of the conference room table, and slings it all over Mr.
Ames. A short recess is taken.)
I’ve found court reporters to be unflappable, even when catastrophe strikes during
a deposition. I remember once when I was
testifying and the court reporter, who was
sitting to my left, placed a glass of water on
the conference room table in front of her.
The water happened to be directly in front
of and above her stenograph machine and
a laptop computer, which was storing the
court reporter’s typing. I thought to myself,
“Uh-oh, this doesn’t look good.” Sure
enough, the reporter rose from her chair
and reached to pick up a document on the
table. As she attempted to sit down—you
guessed it—her left hand caught the glass.
It spilled onto the conference room table. It
spilled onto her stenograph machine. And it
spilled onto the laptop.
A short recess was taken. The reporter
calmly called her office, which, fortunately,
was not too far from my deposition location
and asked a colleague to bring backup equipment. Within a few minutes, it had arrived,
and my deposition continued. The reporter
remained calm and upbeat. I was impressed.
I tip my hat to court reporters. They are
truly amazing people. And that’s the truth!