Depositions play an essential role in the discovery process of a trial. They provide an opportunity for the attorneys of each party to question the deponents and build their strategy around it. The key component of a deposition that assists in creating this strategy is the deposition transcript. This document offers an accurately written record of the deposition and can be used by either party to build their case. To better understand deposition transcripts, we will explore their importance and their uses. 

Why Deposition Transcripts Are So Important

To begin, let us explore why they are so integral to the trial process. First, they are verbatim transcripts of a witness’s testimony. Court reporters are specially trained and work arduously to ensure the deposition transcript is an accurate account of what happened. This starts with the court reporter attending the deposition, creating an audio recording, and taking notes on a stenograph machine. Afterward, they use these records to create a rough draft of the transcript.

They then proofread and cross-reference it many times to ensure it is 100% accurate before finalizing the transcript and issuing a certificate confirming its accuracy. This process takes an average of 10 working days but can take up to two weeks. The final product is a trial-ready deposition record.

Of course, this does not mean the transcript will remain unchanged. Rule 30 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure dictates that a deponent has 30 days to review and sign the contents of the transcript. If it is discovered during those 30 days that the information given was incorrect or misrepresented, it is possible to fix this on the transcript. This is called an errata process.

If corrections need to be made, a deponent may complete an errata sheet deposition outlining each of the changes they would like to make. Each change request must be accompanied by detailed explanations as to why the changes should be accepted. The errata sheet and explanations are provided to the court reporter, who researches the claims to verify the accuracy of the new information. If it is determined that the correction is accurate, it may be included in the transcript along with the original account, so those reviewing it are aware of any edits.

Another key feature of deposition transcripts is that they are unbiased. A third party, the court reporter, handles the transcript and has no stake in the case other than ensuring the deposition transcript is completely accurate.  

How Are Deposition Transcripts Used?

As you can see, deposition transcripts are largely significant thanks to their accuracy. This presents several opportunities for them to be used during trial.

The first is determining a trial strategy. Each deposition is the testimony of another witness and provides key insights into the case. Those insights uncover potential strategic directions to take when questioning witnesses at trial. After carefully crafting which questions to ask, looking for inconsistencies in testimonies, and identifying the opposing party’s weak points, you might identify a clear path to winning your case. This is why depositions are helpful.

The second use of a deposition transcript is as trial evidence. After determining strategy, the deposition(s) in question can be entered as evidence. This includes reading the testimony when a witness is unavailable during the trial and impeaching a witness who contradicts themselves between the deposition and testimony in court.

Finally, deposition transcripts can be used to aid in settlement negotiations. After each party has had the chance to investigate and analyze the claims within the deposition(s), they may decide a settlement is the best solution. Deposition transcripts supporting each party’s willingness to settle can lead to more favorable outcomes than the heavy burdens of a trial.

The deposition transcript provides a verbatim account of a witness's testimony and delivers a neutral and permanent record that can be used to influence and sculpt trial strategies. The importance of these transcripts highlights why they must be done correctly the first time.

NAEGELI Deposition & Trial has extensive experience and expertise in court reporting and legal transcription services and is a vital resource for legal professionals. We rely on a combination of cutting-edge technology and highly trained individuals to provide the best transcription possible. Our court reporters are committed to accuracy and professionalism and have been faithfully serving the legal community for over 40 years.

Contact us for more information or assistance and experience the peace of mind that comes with having a trusted partner in your legal journey.