Setting the standards for videography: The National Court Reporters Association

The National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) was founded in 1899 and was originally named the National Shorthand Reporters Association as a reflection of the predominant form of court reporting in use at the time. Today, the NCRA represents court reporters in a wide range of career paths and provides guidance on best practices within the profession. One of the most important elements of modern court reporting practice is the recording of video depositions. The standards set forth by the NCRA are designed specifically to provide a framework for court reporting firms to ensure the most accurate transcriptions of all types of recordings.

Specifications for video depositions

The NCRA has established 62 separate standards regarding the video recording of depositions. Many of these standards deal with the technical specifications of the equipment to be used:

  • Zoom ratios must maintain a focal length ratio of at least 10:1.
  • Fluid-head tripods are required.
  • Video cameras must have a minimum horizontal resolution of 350 lines.
  • Manual volume adjustment controls are required.
  • At least four microphones are required to meet NCRA standards; of these, one must be directed at the deponent and two are reserved for the direct examiner and the cross examiner in the deposition.

NCRA standards also provide guidance on how depositions should be recorded by videographers:

  • Video depositions should be carried out in accordance with the expressed rules, orders, and stipulations of the court.
  • The style to be used in recording the deposition should be communicated to all parties prior to the start of videography.
  • Any pans or zooms should be performed in a smooth and methodical fashion.
  • All cell phones should be turned off prior to the start of the deposition.
  • Videographers should listen to the questioning and testimony through headphones and should ensure that they can be heard when making announcements verbally.
  • If given permission, recordings may be interrupted by the videographer to ensure that the oath has been administered, to correct any acoustical or technical problems, or to change recording media in cases where this is required.

Videographers should include the following spoken information at the start of the deposition session.

  • The full name of the deponent and the name of the party requesting the deposition
  • The time and date
  • The address at which the deposition took place
  • The case number and the court involved
  • The identity of all persons present, including the business addresses, and names of the court reporter and the videographer
  • Indexing information to include any stops and starts in recording, on-the-record and off-the-record content, and the run time of each deposition session

This information is critical to ensure that depositions are recorded properly and that all events are depicted accurately in regard to the videography process.

By studying and maintaining the best practices recommended by the NCRA, videographers can deliver the highest quality depositions to ensure accurate reporting and evidence in the legal arena.

 

3 tips for cutting costs in your legal office

Reducing your overhead can boost your profitability without increasing your caseload. Here are three proven tips for lowering the cost of operating your legal practice.

  • Outsource your IT

 

Especially for smaller law offices, making the move to cloud storage and maintenance can significantly reduce the need for in-house IT expertise and can cut costs without sacrificing quality or reliability of service.

  • Optimize your supply chain

 

Office supplies and other necessary items can often be acquired from a number of local vendors. Periodic checks to ensure that you are receiving top-quality products at the lowest prices can give you leverage to negotiate lower prices with your current vendor or to move to a different vendor entirely.

  • Cut back on travel

 

Modern videoconferencing technology can provide nearly all of the benefits of face-to-face meetings and can often provide a convenient video record of the entire proceedings. By choosing these lower-cost options for depositions, team meetings, and other activities, your law firm can enjoy considerable savings over the cost of lodging and travel arrangements.

By reducing costs not directly related to your core legal activities, your firm can enjoy increased profitability and improved cash flow. These added financial resources can help your company stay competitive and relevant in the modern legal marketplace.

What is electronic court filing?

In September 1988, the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system was instituted as a way to provide access to public records through authorized computer terminals. At first, these terminals were only available for use in certain public libraries and in some office buildings. In 2001, PACER was made publicly accessible on the Internet as a fee-based search service. It currently is estimated to contain well over 500 million documents. PACER represents the first major use of electronic court filing in the U.S.

Simply put, electronic court filing is the transmission of relevant court documents over the Internet or through other electronic means. In the U.S. judicial system, the preferred format for those documents is determined by standards that govern the way in which documents are structured and the metadata information provided with the court records. PACER records are uploaded in XML-based formats to ensure maximum interoperability and compatibility across a wide range of operating systems and platforms.

Electronic court filing systems provide superior access to attorneys, legal personnel, and members of the public. As more states move to this technologically advanced data transmission method for lawyer-to-lawyer communications, court submissions, and storage of completed cases, the improved access will allow greater transparency for the judicial process.