Video depositions for every day of the week.

While working as a court reporter for the last 10 plus years, I continually hear all reasons why a video deposition is unnecessary for an upcoming proceeding, but the two most common most always end up relating to professional relationships, and price.

Myth 1: I don’t want to upset the witness or opposing counsel.

With the switch to the more accurate digital technology over stenography, Textnet has found that within the past 30 plus years of using video-recordings, most witnesses have not expressed being more uncomfortable in front of the video camera than what they’re already feeling in a deposition.  If a witness objects to being video recorded, it’s not usually because they didn’t brush their hair that morning, but for the more likely reason that they realize eye rolling will be documented.  While the deposition process can be quite daunting in and of itself, let’s face it, the rise of digital uses are just a part of the ever-changing landscape of technology and do not cause more stress or intimidation than the attorney themselves :-)

If opposing counsel raises issue with a video deposition, it’s possible they may be averse to technology all together and misinformed as to the superiority of digital methodology, or attempting to delay the fact finding process.  It’s not like the lawyer is on camera, therefore I am in the dark as to any other reasons why one would object to the video.  Ultimately, the video creates the most accurate depiction of what was really spoken (or unspoken, for that matter) and generally helps maintain civility in heated situations.

Myth 2: I don’t want to pay for a video deposition, they’re so overpriced

There is no additional cost to Textnet’s video depositions!  Our video record is included within the cost of attendance at no extra charge to attorneys.  We do NOT have separate stenographer and videographer fees.  We ARE the court reporter AND the videographer all in one highly skilled professional!  Our modern and compact video equipment greatly reduces our costs, which are then passed on to customers and their clients.  Further, we provide immediate access to the video through our website, which can eliminate the need to ever order a transcript, again saving our customers and their clients money.

When you schedule your next proceeding with Textnet, simply make sure you serve a video notice, and we will serve you by bringing our video camera.

Three faces of Court Reporting

After many years operating the first digital court reporting in the English Speaking world, the actual measurements of court reporting and court reporters boils down to three concepts.

Cost * Speed of delivery * Accuracy

All other finer nuanced considerations still end up being in one of the three categories.

Thus the inquiry naturally follows as to which is the MOST IMPORTANT, and while some who have not considered the question prior may take a while, experienced court reporters know instantly that really only one thing counts “ACCURACY”

And the analysis is quite simple.   What good is a cheap transcript if it’s inaccurate?  Or a quickly produced transcript that’s inaccurate?  The answer is: WORTH NOTHING.

Because the lawyers can’t rely on it.  They might attempt to impeach a wtiness at a trial with a deposition transcript, and the witness says “I did NOT say that at my deposition”

This is part of the reason why Digital Reporting is superior and thus why one noted blogger in the field stresses the obvious, that Digital reporting is VERIFIABLE, a word he likes to use a lot.

But isn’t that PART OF ACCURACY in my broader categories.

Anyway, always find the most accurate reporter you can.  Physical appearance, cost and turnaround time really don’t matter at all.  You may have a trial where speedy delivery IS required, but the good ACCURATE REPORTERS have used the same resourcefulness they use to be accurate to institute systems to serve lawyers quickly too.  That is part of the game for ALL reporters.  The lawyer wants it YESTERDAY.

Rules, Regulations..Rights?

In this political season of Republican primaries, one often hears how TOO MUCH REGULATION is killing the economy.

Now that brings to mind some coal factory where OSHA says the air can only have 8 parts per million of sulphur, and the company says they can only get it down to 9 parts per million, and there’s a law case, but these are fine points that the average citizen, non-business owner just can’t understand.  The average citizen thinks it’s dirty air vs. clean air, when it’s just tiny fine points of how dirty can the air be so we can have lights and working ovens.

So I have what I think is the best example of over regulation that I found even a 14-year-old could understand, so perhaps the best way to explain this is to narrate my last Christmas dinner at my wife’s family’s house in Milwaukee.  We are all sitting there engaging in a little stimulating conversation for the teenagers and 20 somethings there who watch a LITTLE news when not rooting for the Packers or watching MTV.  And I inform them of an interesting fact that affects my world of court reporting.

First we talk about driver’s licenses and how every state requires a driver’s license for citizens to drive.

Then I mention doctor’s licenses, and they all know the Michael Jackson case. We all agree that every state licenses doctors, and who in the world would go to a doctor who did NOT have a license anyway? I pointed out that, with or without licenses, doctors make mistakes and kill and maim people, even though it’s extremely rare.

Then I turn the topic to court reporter licenses, and they all know I started the most advanced reporting firm on earth. I point out to that in Illinois, there is an agency (in the semicircular peach colored building) called the Department of Professional Regulation, and if you go on their website, you can see a list of the licenses they grant, and on the list, is doctors and court reporters.  Further, we talk about how if the professional performs in a substandard way, their license can be suspended or revoked just like a driver’s license.

Then we go on the Wisconsin website for the Department of Regulation and Licensing, and I point out that EVERY state has an agency with a similar name that REGULATES professional licenses, just like every state has a Department of Transportation for driver’s licenses.

So then we look at the list of professional licenses in Wisconsin, and COURT REPORTING HAS NO LICENSE WHATSOEVER.

So I ask the kids in an incredulous tone and say, “How in the world can the court reporting profession in Wisconsin survive?  How do the lawyers get a transcript that isn’t so full of errors as to be unusable?  Don’t these licenses mean ANYTHING?”

So the final question becomes, “Are all these licenses necessary?”  WHAT IS THE REAL PURPOSE OF THESE LICENSES?  I HAVE NOW DEMONSTRATED TO YOU, BEYOND A SHADOW OF A DOUBT, THAT THEY SEEM NOT TO BE NECESSARY IN WISCONSIN?

And my wife’s wise old aunt, her mouth still full of turkey at the table, takes a breath, stops stuffing her face, and barks a single word:

“REVENUE!!!”  And then just took another bite of turkey.  I haven’t stopped laughing yet.  And I’m chuckling big time as I recall this story.  What’ya think?

Welcome to the Official Textnet Blog!

This is my first official blog entry.

I suppose a little of my background is in order, sort of an electronic resume.

Born January 4, 1947 in Queens, New York, my grade school and high school education were in schools on the south shore of Long Island, New York, Freeport and Merrick respectively, adjoining suburbs.

I graduated from Long Island University in 1969 and the University of Wisconsin Law School at Madison in 1974.

I have resided in Madison for four decades or so, but in 1986, I started a branch of TEXTNET in Chicago, and currently, our office there is at Marina Towers in two adjoining units, the first one acquired in 1999, the second in 2005.

The original name of TEXTNET was Magne-Script, derived from a combination of the words Magnetic Tapes and Written Transcripts.

The original idea and the first deposition using this idea came into effect on January 15, 1980. Prior to that, all VIDEO depositions were recorded by two human beings: a stenographer and a videographer. Only about 1 in 1000 depositions were videotaped, and typically, it was the evidence deposition of a doctor or physician where video was first used. The notion there was that it was more important for doctors to spend their time in the office treating patients rather than in a car driving to a courthouse to testify, where they might wait in the hall for half an hour for another witness to finish as well.

A very simple notion occurred to me then, and I tell all young entrepreneurs that the best ideas are SIMPLE. It occurred to me that BOTH PEOPLE WERE MAKING A RECORDING of the same event and that there were TWO INVOICES to the attorneys and thus inevitably, to the attorney’s clients.

So I thought to myself, why don’t we eliminate the stenographer? Then we can make the transcript from an audiotape using a foot pedal like any office dictation. We could then charge exactly the same for a video deposition as a steno deposition, as we only had to pay one person. And if truth be told, once the video equipment was purchased, the person running the video camera hits the red button ONCE, while the stenographer is hitting thousands of keys constantly, working quite hard.

Then if the COST was exactly the same, namely an hourly attendance fee and a page rate with no extra charge for the video, then lawyers could use video FOR EVERY DEPOSITION. That meant the OTHER 999 DISCOVERY DEPOSITIONS, not just the doctor deposition, could be videotaped.

There are several obvious advantages to the video that even a child could understand. There are also sophisticated advantages that will be discussed further at length, and intelligently we hope, on this blog in the future.

But how about the simple concept of a SPEED LIMIT. Stenographers have to slow fast talkers down. In fact, if you want to have some fun, go on YouTube and type in, “World’s fastest talker.” Some exceed 500 words per minute (wpm for us, like mph for vehicles)

What kind of reporting method in the year 2012 HAS A SPEED LIMIT? Anyway, that’s just a taste of some in depth analysis of this crucial litigation support function for lawyers. Much as doctors should know a little about nursing, lawyers should know a little more than they do about reporting, in my humble opinion.

So in 1999 when we became the first PAPERLESS court reporting agency on earth, there were no more magnets, and all of our recordings were on DVDs or hard drives. The magnets were gone and so was the name Magne-Script.

TEXT on the INTERNET became TEXTNET. TEXTNET WAS BORN 1999.

In 2005, we recognized that our video files, which were now all hard drive files, no tapes and no DVDS, could be accessed even more easily through the internet, and thus, we became the first reporting agency to put our videos online.

And also around that time, we learned the technology to put time stamps in the right margin of our transcripts, so that one could find various spots for impeachment on the video rather than using the transcript.

And jumping around a little bit, in 1994, I believe I was the first person to make a transcript WITHOUT THE USE OF THE HUMAN HAND IN ANY WAY, dictating from IBM Via Voice. I had seen a clever article in the Northwest Airline magazine entitled “Look ma, no hands,” and a month later, I had the technology to DICTATE a transcript. There’s even a Wisconsin State Journal newspaper article on it.

Lastly, having written the software for TEXTNET that allows the lawyers to download transcripts and exhibits, I also have a company for reporting agencies that has nothing to do with LAWYERS, called Courtpages. If you go to courtpages.com, you will see that the log on software is now in use in 40 states by 100 REPORTING agencies from Boston to Hawaii. So we’ve meandered a bit BEYOND CHICAGO and having presented at reporting conventions, we’re known pretty universally throughout the industry as a shaker, if  not a mover.

Maybe a mover too.

Hope to see you back here soon!!

Frank