What To Do If
One of the Parties Accidentally Walks Off With The Exhibits
By Jan Ballman – FAPR, RPR, CMRS – Principal, Minneapolis
A: As reporters, we are guardians of the record. The exhibits are a big part of the record that need guarding. Taking guardianship of the exhibits looks different in remote proceedings versus in-person depos, so let’s take them separately.
It’s imperative to maintain laser focus on where exhibits are placed after they have been introduced. Often exhibits are stacked in front of the witness after they have been discussed. Sometimes the “Taking/Noticing Attorney” controls the pile of introduced exhibits. Occasionally, the witness’ attorney will grab a marked exhibit, examine it, then set it down in a random location on the table. The reporter needs to be aware of where each exhibit is, making quick and easy work of taking possession of them at the depo’s conclusion. Immediately count them to ensure they’re all there. If you’re missing one/any, stop the parties from leaving the room: “I apologize, but I am missing Exhibit 13. Can everyone check to see if you have it?” If anyone (who had access to the exhibits) has left the room but can be caught up to, make that effort, using the same verbiage. It’s MUCH EASIER to retrieve an exhibit before the parties have left the building. If you fail to safeguard the exhibits, it can be very challenging to locate them later. It involves contacting the deposition participants one by one, asking each to search their files to look for the lost document(s). Some will do so; some won’t. Some may not even respond to you. Sometimes you will locate it; sometimes you will not. In the event you are not able to locate the lost exhibit(s), you will need to reach out to the attorney who produced the document for the depo and request that they reproduce it so you can then re-mark the exhibit and turn it into the court reporting agency, who will then upload it to the job with the rest of the deposition’s exhibits. A best practice is to keep all parties in the case apprised of any missing exhibits as well as your efforts to relocate/replace them. Work with the reporting agency to facilitate this correspondence.
This issue is greatly mitigated in the remote deposition setting where all parties, or at least the “Taking/Noticing Attorney,” appear virtually. When exhibits are presented electronically, typically a quick email to the Presenting Attorney explaining that one or more of the exhibits did not come through for you will result in an expeditious resending of the missing documents, which can then be re-stickered and uploaded to the Partner Portal.
If you are assigned to an Exhibit Share deposition, you only need to provide Veritext with specific instructions or details about the exhibits related to production, as we already have the exhibits in Exhibit Share. You do not need to provide the exhibits themselves.
Email us at courtreport[email protected] with a scenario you’d like a solution for!
Jan began her career as a court reporter in 1981. In 1990, she was elected President of the state court reporters association. This experience afforded the opportunity to meet many outstanding court reporters and industry leaders. In 1993, Jan collaborated with two highly regarded colleagues–Jayne Seward and Lisa Richardson–to form Ballman, Richardson & Seward. Five years later, Jan led the merger of BR&S with two well-known and highly respected firms–Schultz & Sorenson; and Oliver, Mitchell & Maves—and launched Paradigm Reporting & Captioning on January 1, 1998.
After a 20-year career as a court reporter, Jan retired her steno machine in 2002 in favor of taking the helm of Paradigm on a full-time basis.
A recognized leader at both the state and national level, Jan was bestowed Minnesota’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award, by the Minnesota Association of Verbatim Reporters and Captioners in 2004. In 2010, Jan was elected to serve on the Board of Trustees of the National Court Reporters Foundation and was honored to accept the appointment as Chair of the Board from 2014 to 2016. In August of 2017, Jan was inducted into as a Fellow into the Academy of Professional Reporters. Currently, Jan Ballman is the only court reporter in Minnesota to have attained the professional distinction of FAPR.
Outside of her chosen profession, Jan enjoys working with local nonprofits, mentoring tomorrow’s leaders, and exploring the world of wine. Since 2011, Jan has been delighted to chair “Legal Wine Lovers,” an official affinity group of Minnesota Women Lawyers.