As court reporters there’s a lot that’s asked of us but thankfully it’s all within our capabilities to deliver. Among the most important, and sometimes overlooked, is getting the witness names correct at the deposition. It’s your role to get the details correct including understanding the importance of the witness names.
Request a List
It’s well within your right to ask the attorney for a witness list prior to the deposition or court appearance. You can familiarize yourself with the correct titles and spellings and ask for clarification as needed. This is especially true if the case involved people with similar names or a family with the same last names. You need to be sure you’ve got the right witness name on the transcript.
What May Need Clarification
You should never assume you know the proper title or spelling of someone’s name. And never assume the witness list provided to you is correct. You’re better off asking the witness themselves for clarification on items such as:
- Unique or uncommon names
- Titles such as Mr., Miss, Ms., Mrs.
- Credentials such as doctor or PhD
- Family members with similar names. Don’t assume father and son named Edward are Senior and Junior respectively. They may not have the same middle name.
- Use of middle names. The witness may call herself Anne Marie but spells their name Annemarie.
In addition to having the proper spelling and credentials, be sure you’re referring to the witness the same way throughout the transcript. John David Smith, Jr. shouldn’t be changed to John D. Smith or John D. Smith, Jr.
Ask the Witness
When swearing in witnesses, ask for their full name and, especially for expert witnesses, ask for their title like PhD or MD. They’re the only ones who can definitively give you the correct version of their name.
Your attention to details like witness name is important to your success as a court reporter. Failure to get this simple detail correct and consistently throughout the transcript reflects poorly on you and your work. Take time to ask to avoid inconsistencies and don’t forget to proofread the transcript before sending it to your client!
If you’re seeking a court reporter for an upcoming case in the San Francisco area, contact us today!