As a court reporter, getting the name of attorneys, courtroom witnesses, and deponents is a vital part of the job. Creating professional transcriptions demands that you get the correct spelling and professional credentials for each witness. It can be very easy to make a mistake, which reflects poorly on your professionalism. These basic rules will help you to stay on track.
Don’t be afraid to ask for correct spelling or a list of witness names ahead of time. While you still want to check with the witness, the list will give you a good starting point especially for the hardest to pronounce names.
Don’t rely on the attorney’s spelling or the deposition notice for the witness' name. Ask them for the correct spelling, including middle name.
Ask if they use their middle name. Some people use it commonly, not just as an initial on official documents. Names like Carrie Anne or Anne Marie come to mind.
Once you have the full name, double check the spelling of first, middle, and last names. When you have someone with a relatively common name, you may want to ask if there is a unique spelling. “Joseph. Is that spelled the J-o-s-e-p-h? Or is there another spelling?” You may well find out they use Josef.
Be consistent and enter names the same way throughout the transcription. John J. Smyth should appear as such and not changed to John J. Smythe or John J. Smith even if your spellchecker wants to change it.
Credentials matter. Be certain to have the correct initials following any expert witness name. As when dealing with a name, be consistent throughout the transcript. If you are dealing with a doctor, note whether he/she is an M.D. or a Ph.D. or both. According to the advice set forth by Marasco & Nesselbush, if you use Joseph D. Smythe M.D. in one place, don’t use Dr. Joseph Smythe somewhere.
Taking the time to get the witness’ name and credentials correct and to do so throughout the transcript will be a mark of your dedication to your craft and your professionalism.
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