When it comes to the witness name game, we want our court reporters to be accurate. If they aren’t, we know it can impact a case for you. From the correct title and spelling of even the most common names, to credentials and medical and forensic terms, there’s a lot we need to track. In order to deliver the most accurate transcriptions to you, our Chicago area clients, we need your help.
Have an upcoming deposition? Send your court reporter a list of witness names. The more information you can provide ahead of time, the more prepared we can be. Often our clients think the list is the final time we ask for the correct spelling and credentials but it’s actually the first look we get at who is participating.
A good court reporter will then verify when the witness is sworn in. Even common names like John Smith can be spelled John Smyth or they may go by a middle initial such as John L. Smith to distinguish themselves. This is common practice in trust and estate cases where there may be multiple people with similar names.
Tip: Send a list of technical, medical, and/or forensics terms that might be used along with the witness list so we can familiarize ourselves ahead of the proceeding.
This is especially important when dealing with expert witnesses who may need to have their areas of expertise noted as part of the title of their name – MBA, M.D., J.D., Dr., and PhD, to name a few. Don’t assume the doctor is Dr. Mary Smith when she is Mary Smith, PhD. This line of thinking is also applied to family names.
- Don’t assume father and son are senior and junior, respectively. They may have different middle initials or middle names that distinguish them from each other. The son may go by his middle name. If they go by the same name – Ed, for example – then you will need to distinguish them from each other in the transcript.
- Speaking of middle names… Anne Marie may actually be Annmarie or Anne-Marie or Annemarie. Don’t assume if it sounds like a middle name that it actually is a middle name.
- Don’t assume an older woman is Mrs. or that a young woman is Miss or Ms. It’s better to ask then note it incorrectly.
The Name Game
While legal teams try to provide accurate witness lists, they don’t always get them right. Don’t assume the list you have in-hand is correct. Even the most well-intentioned teams sometimes get it wrong. The more you ask, the better the final product that we deliver to you.