How do you deal with exhibits?


How do you deal with exhibits?

Dealing with exhibits is my least favorite part of being a freelance reporter.  At times I wish I had a clerk that could deal with all of it.  The first difficulty: Putting the info into your transcript.  The title -- what if there is no title?  Nothing, nada.  Then what?  The date -- what if there are 14 different dates?  Numbering the pages -- do you do that?  Do you number the page for each exhibit in the bottom right corner and then number ALL the pages in the bottom left corner?  The first agency I worked for had me do that, so I have continued to do that, but I don't know if all agencies require that.  It's a big pain.  Invariably I get them all numbered and then I discover that my numbers are off, so I have to go through and find the one page I missed, erase the wrong numbers (I've definitely learned to use pencil) and then renumber.  When you've got hundreds of pages, it can take hours.  Since I freelance, I don't have the nerve to ask for extra $ for my time.  Do you ask for extra $ or just suck it up?  And then there's the EXPENSIVE mailing.  Yikes!  And then the other thing -- keeping track of the exhibits at a depo when the attorney is rambling on  and hasn't given you time to mark anything.  Do you stop them?  Do you keep track during the depo?  I have learned to TRY to quickly write down a number while they're still talking because invariably they will ask me, What number are we on now?  I'm always grateful for a thoughtful attorney who will legibly mark them for me and keep them in order, but that doesn't always happen.   

After 2830 views and 4 responses, the Best Answer with 16 votes comes from DTAGGART


Sounds like you need to get some routines concerning exhibits, which will relieve some of your exhibit anxiety.

You're responsible for the exhibits, marking them and maintaining them for the transcript, and I've found that if you have a routine that you don't let yourself vary from, you won't forget something.

First of all, if at all possible, don't let the attorneys mark the exhibits without your getting your hands on them for your own marking.  If they mark their own exhbiit, at the earliest spot, ask to be able to mark it for the record.  Sometimes that's not possible; they don't want to take the time.  In that case, I'll give them a page of my exhibit stickers, and they're on their own, but try to keep a list of the numbers that have been marked. 

But the optimum is to mark it yourself.  I fill out my sticker with, for instance, No. 1, then at the same time as I write 1 on the sticker, I write 2 for the next sticker so that I know what is the next number.  I always announce the exhibit number as I'm marking and have found that while some attnsy give me the I know, I know, routine, more often they're grateful to have someone else keeping track.

Then keep your eye on where they go, if at all possible.  There's NOTHING worse than having everybody gone and you find out that Exhibit 3 is missing and you've got to spend the next couple of days tracking it down.  Gather them all up at recesses and at breaks.  They're more likely to stay together that way -- sometimes.  If the attny doesn't do it, tell the witness that you need to take them all at the end of the day. 

As far as describing the exhibits for the record, it's great when the attny describes them on the record, or they're just a letter that's easy to describe --or a document with a title.  But in the case of it being some document that nobody described and you haven't got a clue what it is, I usually describe it as X-page typewritten/handwritten document.  My feeling is that if they don't care enough to describe something that obscure for the record, they don't care that much what you call it. 

Some of those routines make exhibits a little less of a pain for me.  Hope that helps you a little.



I vote for a ban on attaching exhibits to transcripts!

I carry a stamp to easily and quickly mark exhibits - you don't have to fill out all the lines right then, maybe just the number.   Also, the ol' pre-numbered Post-it trick works great!   Especially for those attys who lose track!  When there's no title, I read the document a little bit and decide what to call it or call it whatever the atty called it in the depo!   Most firms have a shipping account you can use, can't hurt to ask.   If not, don't forget to keep your receipts and take the tax write-off.   Some firms will reimburse for marking time as well.   Numbering each page is a bummer.  You might want to invest in a Bates stamp from Staples or Office Depot - just stamp away!   Speaking of Bates numbers, I don't submark when they've already been Bates'd.   I think that's just too many numbers and confusion - they've already been identified - it's overkill at that point!


I always ask the taking attorney before we start if they're going to have exhibits, do they need/want me to mark them, and if so do they have an approximation of the number of exhibits they are going to have.   If they say about 10, and they want me to mark them, I make up 12 exhibits stickers before we start with the number, witness' name, and date.  My initials are already on my stickers.  If I waste a few stickers, it's no big deal, as they cost less than 1 or 2 cents each.   I will ask the attorney if they want to put the stickers on or if they want me to.   If the attorneys are marking them, I just make a note in my transcript of (Exhibit ** marked).  If I don't know what exhibit number it is until they say it, then I simply write (Exhibit marked.) and fill in the number later.   I check exhibits during the break to make sure they're still all there.  


If the exhibits are premarked by the attorneys, I do not put a parenthetical in unless the agency I'm working for requires it, and then I put in (Exhibit ** previously marked.)   If I don't have a description for the exhibits because the attorneys retain them, I either use the best description I can gather from the transcript or I just put Exhibit 1 in the Index with the page number and no description.   They have the exhibits - I don't!



I do mostly international depos these days, and carry a scanner with me to deps most of the time.  I never go to the bathroom anymore!  I scan exhibits.  Sending original exhibits internationally is scary, and I feel a responsibility to make sure they have a good color-scanned document, photo or piece of scrap paper (whatever they come up with for exhibits).  I also take a digital camera for un-scannable things and take photos of them ... customer service!

I personally like to be the exhibit number-er and keep the originals.  Although it is more work, we all know that having exhibits in your hand helps immensely with putting together a stellar transcript.

I always always always put something in the record about exhibits, i.e.:  DEPOSITION EXHIBIT 1 MARKED FOR IDENTIFICATION; PREVIOUSLY MARKED SMITH DEPOSITION EXHIBIT 2 FIRST REFERRAL; on and on ... and in the Table of Contents always always always put where the originals were when you last saw them:  ORIGINAL EXHIBITS RETAINED BY COUNSEL MR. SMITH; ORIGINAL EXHIBITS ATTACHED TO ORIGINAL TRANSCRIPT ... et cetera.


By the way - I never mark on the exhibits (including making page numbers) unless specifically requested and agreed by counsel ON THE RECORD. It could be construed as tampering ...

Monday, June 23, 2014

Todd Olivas

Todd Olivas is a court reporter and entrepreneur.
He founded TO&A in 2003.

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