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The most usual service that we provide is connected with handling the exhibits of oral depositions. In addition to handling the usual black and white documents, we also handle the duplication of x-rays, MRI films, color photographs, blueprints, maps, audiotapes, videotapes and CD’s. In patent and copyright cases, we get to handle everything from chocolate bars to high-frequency portable communication devices.
There are also other exhibit services we provide for our clients, beyond the standard deposition.
To save on time and travel costs, many of our clients have us conduct depositions on written questions. These are particularly popular for attorneys in Hawaii and Montana, but we have also done them for attorneys from eleven other states so far this year. We conduct about 15-20 of these depositions per week. The most common use of these is to obtain medical, personnel or insurance records, although they are used for any other purpose for which an oral deposition is taken. While documents can sometimes be obtained simply by issuing a request for documents, there are several advantages in having a court reporter obtain the records. When the court reporter goes to obtain the documents, questions are also asked under oath which lay the foundation for the documents so they can be introduced at trial without the custodian of records being in attendance. The certified original transcript and documents are then sealed and can be filed with the court as needed.
Depositions upon written questions can also be used in any other situations where information is needed from a witness but it is not economical to conduct the depositions in person or where there are scheduling conflicts.
At other times when the attorneys want to document the chain of custody and control of documents, but don’t need to ask questions of the custodian of records, they utilize a subpoena duces tecum with the option of having the witness simply provide the documents to the deposition officer rather than showing up in person. The reporter then certifies the receipt of the documents, identifies and marks them, makes copies for any parties requesting them and seals the originals.
In certain cases, particularly when the same exhibits will be used with numerous witnesses, an exhibit book is created. Depending on the case management order or the stipulation of the parties, the exhibit book can contain either the original exhibits or copies of them. Similar to the use of exhibits in a trial, all the exhibits in the case are then numbered in the order that they are introduced, and that number remains the same each time it is used with a different witness.
The court reporter will customarily bring the exhibit book to each deposition so that the exhibits can be consulted or used at that time. The originals or copies of the exhibits used in a particular deposition may be annexed to the deposition transcript, or not, depending on the assigned or agreed-upon procedures of the case.
A master exhibit index for the case is generated and kept updated, in addition to the individual indices made for each deposition. At the conclusion of the deposition phase of discovery, the exhibit book may be filed with the court or turned over to one of the parties for safekeeping.
The parties may also elect to maintain their own exhibit books and to receive loose copies of all exhibits for inclusion in it, rather than having them annexed to their copy of the transcript. If the exhibits become too voluminous or there is a lot of travel involved, all the exhibits may not be brought to every deposition but may remain secure at the reporter’s office till needed.
In instances where copies of documents are required from a party or witness, and they will not release the originals for copying, we can arrange for a certified copy service to go to the location and produce the copies either in the company of the court reporter or afterwards. This is most often used for obtaining medical records, whether in connection with an oral deposition or otherwise.
The copy service will generally microfilm the records, develop the film overnight and then print out the documents from the film. Both the microfilm and the paper come in continuous rolls, and the paper is then cut to the size of the original document. For example, if the original document consists of an 8-1/2″ x 14″ lease and an attached 5″ x 8″ jurat from the notary, the copy will consist of one 8-1/2″ x 14″ and one 8-1/2″ x 5″ piece of paper. The other option is to have the service bring in their own copy machine. This is more expensive, but has a quicker turnaround and all the copies come out the same size.
A document depository can be set up when a case involves numerous documents and numerous parties. In such a case, all parties send all their disclosure or discovery documents to us rather than to each other. These documents are then numbered, identified and indexed. Any of the parties can then view the documents and order copies of them if they desire. This can result in a considerable savings to all parties since they do not have to serve copies of documents on all the parties, nor do they have to store large quantities of documents that they do not plan to use.
The above are some of the services that we provide regarding handling of documents. If you need any of these, or have some special request not covered above, give us a call.