01 Jun Can I Review My Deposition? What You Need to Know
What you need to know about reviewing your deposition
You finally made it through the deposition. The nerves didn’t beat you! You showed up and gave your statement, answering all the questions the lawyers asked of you with as much detail as you could remember. Now you’re wondering what comes next. What happens to your statement? If the case goes to trial it could be months or even years away. What if you get selected as a witness and you forget details? You don’t want to damage your reputation, or commit perjury, but what can you do? Is it possible to look over your deposition after it’s been taken? Not to worry. Deposition Academy has all the answers you need.
So, are you able to review your deposition after it’s been recorded? The simple answer is yes. You, and everyone involved in the case, are entitled to receive a copy of the transcription. The transcription is the full-text document transcribed by the court reporter from the shorthand notes they took during your deposition. For a videotaped deposition, the videographer will timestamp the video and a transcript will be written.
Depositions are done during pre-trial to gather evidence and/or find suitable witnesses. They are often used to move for a settlement or to form an argument for a trial. As such, they are legally binding proceedings and a witness’s sworn testimony is taken under oath. Because of this, having a copy of your deposition is really useful. Since it’s written down verbatim, the record remains undisturbed by the passage of time. Rather than try to remember every little detail, which can be skewed and changed by your memory, your statement is preserved with all the details you recalled while it was still fresh in your mind. There are some questions you might have when you are looking to review your statement. For example: how is it made, who pays for it, who can get a copy, etc. We’re going to answer all these questions and more down below.
The Basics of Recording a Deposition
Firstly, we need to understand the types of depositions. A deposition can be recorded in any number of ways. There are many types of depositions, but you would know best which category your deposition falls into. The four main kinds of depositions are:
- Oral deposition
- Video deposition
- Phone deposition
- Written deposition or affidavit
Each type of deposition has a different way of being recorded. A written deposition is a series of questions that you answer, notarize, and send back to the lawyer. A copy of that is quickly obtained. However, the other types of depositions require a transcription to be made.
With an oral deposition, a court reporter or stenographer takes shorthand notes during the deposition and then translates them into a full transcript divided by line numbers. The line numbers make it easy to reference a specific statement during a trial if your deposition is chosen as evidence. A video deposition is attended by a videographer who records your deposition. Afterward, the videographer will add timestamps and a transcriptionist will copy down what was said referencing the timestamps as a guide instead of line numbers. Sometimes a deposition will have both a court reporter and a videographer. This is called “dual recordation” and results in a timestamped video and a written copy of your statement.
How is the transcription made?
The actual process to make a transcript has a lot of steps. First, the court reporter needs to translate the steno shorthand notes from the proceedings into an easily understandable language. Then it is checked for accuracy and any mistakes are corrected. The manuscript is checked against any information available, including the shorthand notes and/or videos, for accuracy. The court reporter may contact legal assistants to ensure the spelling of names and locations. If a deposition is particularly complex, the court reporter will research concepts and terms to ensure the transcription is as accurate as possible. Once the transcript is written, it is edited for typos and punctuation.
The next step is the production process. This involves making a digital copy as well as printed and bound copies. The transcript is run through several different computer programs to ensure that it is available in every format that may be needed. Afterward, the transcript is often saved in a repository where the lawyers can access it electronically and make copies. The printed copies are bound into a booklet and delivered to the lawyer’s office.
Who can get a copy of my deposition?
Anyone that is involved in the case is entitled to a copy for review and assessment. This includes you (the deponent), your lawyer(s), the opposition lawyer(s), and the opposition. This doesn’t mean that anyone can get a copy. In fact, it’s really hard for a third party who is not involved in the case to get a copy of your deposition. Unless the lawyers have stipulated that third parties are allowed to have a copy, they can’t obtain one from the court reporter.
The laws of civil procedure vary from state to state. In some states, a third party can request a copy, and if protections aren’t made in a certain amount of time, then the third party can obtain a copy from the court reporter.
How long does it take to make the transcript?
Usually, it takes up to two weeks for a court reporter to finish and deliver a transcript to the lawyer that requested the deposition. Some agencies have a time limit set for how long their employees can take to finish a transcript. Also, some court reporters are well known for their fast turnaround time. Essentially, it varies, but usually takes between seven to ten days and up to two weeks for your lawyer to get a copy.
It is a good idea to request a copy before or right after your deposition. After all, you are entitled to a copy and it’s always good to have that request on record. After your lawyer gets their copy they should contact you about your copy. If you haven’t heard from them in two weeks, give them a call and see if there’s been a delay.
Of course, sometimes a copy is needed sooner than two weeks. In this instance, a rush order can be made. However, because a court reporter may have multiple transcripts to make, it’s best to give advance notice if a rush order is needed. To ensure the most accurate and best transcript available, a court reporter will need to juggle assignments if this happens.
What happens to the transcript after it is written?
The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure state that “[u]nless the court orders otherwise, the officer [who conducted the deposition] must seal the deposition in an envelope or package bearing the title of the action and marked ‘Deposition of [witness’s name]’ and must promptly send it to the attorney who arranged for the transcript or recording. The attorney must store it under conditions that will protect it against loss, destruction, tampering, or deterioration.”
In plain speech, this means that unless the court says differently for some reason, the court reporter must place the transcript in a sealed envelope with your name and send it to the lawyer who requested the deposition. That lawyer or law firm is required to protect the manuscript from everything until it is to be used for the case.
Who pays for the transcript to be made?
Typically the lawyer or law firm who requested the deposition pays for the transcripts to be made. The cost varies, but it’s usually $1 or more per page. This means that a manuscript can get pretty pricey, pretty quickly. Usually, after the main transcription fee is paid, copies can be made from the court reporter’s manuscript for a lesser, but still expensive, fee.
For high profile cases, some depositions can be upwards of a thousand pages. As you can imagine, the cost of the transcription is monumental. Sometimes it is passed on to the defendant or plaintiff. You can always ask your lawyer who will be paying for the transcript.
Is my deposition’s transcript public domain? Unlike most trial materials, a deposition transcript and the audio or video of a deposition are not public records. They are the property of whoever paid to have them made.
Why would a third party want my deposition transcription? They could want it for any number of reasons. They could be researching a case that overlaps with your deposition and they want to review your statement. Maybe your case is high profile and they want some direct quotes. Only they know for sure, but legal protections are in place.
What should you do if you find a mistake or misquote in the transcript? Accuracy is extremely important. If you have any concerns or think the court reporter made a mistake in the transcription, you should contact your lawyer. This also applies if you remembered more information or need to correct an answer after your deposition.