Thomas & Thomas Court Reporters - Court Reporters, Remote Depositions, Trial Presentation Services

For everything you need to know on court reporters, remote depositions, and trial presentation services.

Thomas & Thomas Court Reporters Provides Trial Services in Community Theater

Thomas & Thomas Court Reporters Provides Trial Services in Community Theater

SERVICES:  Trial Presentation Services, Trial Technician, A/V Equipment Rental, and PowerPoint Creation

CASE CAPTION:  Estate of Matthew P. Perkins, By and Through Its Administrator, David Perkins, and David  Perkins and Wilma A. Perkins, Individually vs. Sheryl R. Stalzer and Richard Stalzer; LACI10621

CASE TYPE:  Wrongful Death

COURT:  Iowa District Court for Marshall County

JUDGE:  Judge James C. Ellefson

LAW FIRMS:  Fredd J. Haas Law Offices, PC (Plaintiffs) and UNKNOWN (Defendants)

OVERVIEW:  Providing trial technician to display exhibits, PowerPoints, and video depositions at trial.  Thomas & Thomas Court Reporters was also responsible for the A/V equipment and ensuring all the A/V equipment was setup correctly.

UNIQUE ASPECT OF TRIAL:  The unique aspect of this trial was the fact that it was held at the community theaters (The Orpheum) instead of the courthouse, as the courthouse was partially destroyed after a tornado came through Marshalltown on July 19, 2018 and was not quite ready to hold trials at the time. 

Because the trial was not held in a traditional courtroom, additional A/V equipment was needed to ensure a clear and visible presentation was possible.  Thomas & Thomas Court Reporters utilized a 100” projector screen as the main display and then split the signal to the TV that was already in the space so that the room would have a secondary screen for alternate viewing.  A separate trial tech table was also utilized due to limited space and the room’s configuration. 

As with lots of spaces, line of sight was of particular concern here.  We had to place the projector screen off to the side, but at enough of an angle so that everyone could see it.  The secondar monitor was then positioned on the opposite side so that those closest to it didn’t have to look all the way across the room, if so desired.  Here, we were able to utilize the TV’s speakers for audio playback instead of the projector’s internal speakers or brining in a standalone speaker.                       

RESULT:  $6,000,000 settlement several hours after the jury left to deliberate.

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Future of Court Reporting Discussed at Town Hall Meeting

In September, the Omaha Bar Association hosted a town hall meeting with members of the local legal community to discus the futrue of court reporting in Nebraska.  As a part of that town hall meeting, Thomas & Thomas Court Reporters was asked to sit on the panel to provide insight into the matter.  Below are photos from the meeting, as well as an article by David Golbitz from The Daily Record about what transpired at the meeting.  Thank you to the OBA for including Thomas & Thomas in the town hall meeting.  We truly appreciate being a part of the discussion.

 

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Future of Court Reporting in Nebraska Up in the Air

By David Golbitz

The Daily Record

The Omaha Bar Association hosted a town hall meeting with members of the local legal community to discuss the future of court reporting in Nebraska.

A contentious issue, the hour-and-a-half long meeting—moderated by Omaha attorney Stu Dornan — raised a number of questions but provided few answers.

At the heart of the discussion was the fact that Nebraska has a shortage of trained, qualified court reporters, leaving many courtrooms to rely on potentially inaccurate transcriptions made from digital recordings of the testimony.

“(Accurate records are) the lifeblood of what we do,” Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey Funke said. “We can't have a justice system without the record. It's important for the litigants, important for the attorneys, important for the trial judge and it's extremely important for me in my job now as an appellate judge. All I do is read the record.”

Most of the lawyers and judges who spoke at the town hall agreed that having a court reporter in the courtroom is the absolute best way to ensure an accurate record.

“If I had my druthers, I would say every courtroom should have a stenographic court reporter,” Funke said. “Is that financially feasible? No. Is that feasible with the shortage that we’re experiencing? No. So what do we do?”

One of the reasons for the court reporter shortage is that Nebraska doesn’t offer a competitive salary. Some court reporters previously employed in Nebraska are leaving for higher wages — by one count, there are currently nine court reporters working in Iowa who used to work in Douglas County.

Funke said that a pay study is currently underway to determine how much Nebraska should be paying its court reporters, but the study won’t be ready until the end of the year.

More competitive pay doesn’t, on its own, mean that there will be enough qualified workers to serve as court reporters, though. Many employers are struggling to draw in the talent they need, and the shortage of court reporters is national — there just aren’t enough workers for all vacancies.

Douglas County Public Defender Tom Riley wants the state to do whatever it has to do to ensure every courtroom has a court reporter.

“Cheaper isn’t necessarily better in this context,” Riley said. “I can think of any number of instances where I’m so glad that there was a court reporter that was involved, a human being, a steno, that knows what they’re doing and can keep track of the record both with regard to the physical evidence and the testimony.”

Riley added: “As far as I’m concerned we should do everything we can to keep live steno court reporters in the courtroom as often as we can. And whatever changes we need to do, keep them here.”

The problem with not having a dedicated court reporter in the courtroom is that something might be missed by someone who is just listening to an audio recording.

“I think of all the sidebars we have where you might be talking over me, the court reporter will say, ‘one at a time’ or ‘slow down’ or ‘you’re too quiet,’” Chief Deputy Douglas County Attorney Brenda Beadle said.

Court reporters are able to actively listen to what’s being said.

“If there’s not a way to discern between what’s not important and what is actually important, that is a concern,” Interim Omaha City Attorney Matt Kuhse said.

The potential that a key part of testimony might be missed is significantly higher without a court reporter working in real time in the courtroom.

During her presentation, Sarpy County court reporter Stefanie Allison presented a transcript that had been made from a digital recording that had “261 untranslates, indecipherables, indiscernibles and unidentified speakers.”

“This is an appeal,” Allison said. “This is somebody’s life here, and this record is not accurate. You can’t make a ruling on this.”

Douglas County Court Judge Thomas K. Harmon said that he has had to change the way he presides over his courtroom when he doesn’t have a court reporter.

“One of the things that I try to do on the bench is to be very clear in the questions that I’m asking, hoping that I’ll have an audible record that will in fact, if an appeal comes about, that you do have those facts available and that there is a record made,” Harmon said. “I’m very anal about making sure everyone identifies themselves, making sure that the names are spelled correctly.”

Kuhse said that judges shouldn’t have to split their attention between listening to testimony in the moment and wondering whether the audio recording is going to be clear enough on a later review.

“I do not like recording systems in county court,” Kuhse said. “It places too much burden on the judges to have to get the exhibits, mark the exhibits, keep track of the exhibits, when their attention should be on the evidence and testimony.”

The town hall meeting ended without a clear idea of how to ensure an accurate record is kept for every case if there is not a court reporter in every courtroom.

Most attendees believe there will have to be some sort of hybrid system between having inperson stenographers and using digital recording technology, but no one knows what it will look like.

“Part of solving that problem is to incorporate digital recording into District Court and do it in a way that supports stenos,” District Court Judge Shelly Stratman said. “How is (digital) going to incorporate with our stenos? And how are we going to make sure that we have the software, the equipment, and everything we need to make sure that every attorney and every litigant is getting an accurate record?”

Until that hybrid system is figured out, there will still be only one surefire way to ensure that the court record is accurate.

“I will tell you right here and now the reality is that if you do not have a stenographer in that courtroom you cannot guarantee that that record is accurate,” Allison said. “You cannot. Period.”

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Thomas & Thomas Court Reporters Provides Trial Presentation Services for Unique Patent Trial

Thomas & Thomas Court Reporters Provides Trial Presentation Services for Unique Patent Trial

SERVICES:  Trial Presentation Services, Trial Technician, A/V Equipment Rental, and PowerPoint Creation

CASE CAPTION:  NexStep, Inc. v. Comcast Cable Communications, LLC; 1:19-CV-01031

CASE TYPE:  Patent Infringement

COURT:  United States District Court for the District of Delaware

JUDGE:  Judge Richard G. Andrews

LAW FIRMS:  Kramer Levin (NextStep) and WilmerHale (Comcast)

OVERVIEW:  Providing trial technician to display exhibits, PowerPoints, and video depositions at trial.  Thomas & Thomas was also responsible for some of the A/V equipment and ensuring all the A/V equipment was setup correctly.

UNIQUE ASPECT OF TRIAL:  There were two unique aspects to this trial.  The first was that the Judge did not allow our team to put on a damages case.  Thus, our entire presentation was devoted to infringement and validity.  The other unique aspect of the trial was the courtroom was not completely wired like federal courtrooms normally are.  Here, we had to bring in a projector and connect it in such a way that both sides could black out the signal when displaying evidence that had not been admitted.  This is especially important in patent litigation, as there are voluminous amounts of exhibits and using physical copies to admit evidence would be burdensome and time consuming.  Normally, the courtroom is wired in a way that the Court controls what is shown to the jury and is not a responsibility of the parties.          

RESULT:  Infringement.  The jury issued a verdict finding Comcast’s Xfinity brand app indirectly infringed NexStep’s patent for a way of turning a remote control into a customer service “concierge device,” but cleared Comcast of claims of infringing a related patent.

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Thomas & Thomas Court Reporters Provides Transcription Services for 2021 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholder Meeting

On May 1st, 2021, Thomas & Thomas Court Reporters and our team of amazing writers were fortunate enough to again provided court reporting and realtime services for Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger at the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholder Meeting.  This was the 11th consecutive year that Thomas & Thomas has been asked to report for this annual Omaha and world event. 

This year, however, with the COVID-19 pandemic still looming, the meeting was moved from Omaha to Los Angeles, which made for a fun and memorable experience that included travel and a new venue.  For over 4 ½ hours, Mr. Buffett, Mr. Munger and others answered questions on everything from the future of Berkshire Hathaway, to bitcoin, to SPACs. 

In addition to providing the official record of the 2021 meeting, this was the 3rd year that Thomas & Thomas was asked to provide Mr. Buffett and Mr. Munger personally with a direct realtime feed of the questions as they were being asked to better assist them in their ability to respond.  And respond the did!  They were amazing and never missed a beat; and, as you might expect, a pleasure to work for.

Congratulations to our tremendously talented court reporters (Brie, Mary Lou and Cheryl) and the entire Birkshire Hathaway team for a job well done.  We look forward to seeing you again next year.

 

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How to Conduct Remote Depositions

Last week, Thomas & Thomas Court Reporters spoke with Dave Sommers at the Omaha Bar Association to discuss how law firms can continue to conduct depositions during the current coronavirus outbreak.  Below is the recording of said interview as well as an explanation of the benefits of remote depositions and our recommendations on how to successfully conduct one.

While the ability to conduct remote depositions have been around for a while, the advent of the coronavirus has put them in the forefront of the legal community.  Having performed over 2,500 videoconferences, Thomas & Thomas has seen the benefits of remote depositions firsthand.  For starters, it is easy to use.  We generate a unique link and send it to all the participants.  One simple click and you are in.  Another benefit is you can connect from anywhere.  Given the current climate, we have seen attorneys, deponents, and court reporters appear from businesses and homes, allowing flexibility to those who cannot or prefer not to be out in public.  Our remote deposition platform, Zoom, also allows the participants to share exhibits in real time with all the other participants.  This function ensures everyone is on the same page and can easily follow along.  Zoom also works with almost all devices – PCs, Macs, and other videoconferencing units. 

Benefits of Remote Depositions:

  • Connect from Anywhere- Connect from your home or office
  • Easy to Use- Simply click a link to connect
  • Incorporate Exhibits- share your desktop to ensure all participants can see and follow the exhibits in real-time
  • Universal Connectivity - Connect to PCs, Macs, and V/C Units

Even though remote depositions can be a great alternative to conducting an in-person deposition, the participants should be aware of the pitfalls and how to avoid them prior to conducting their first deposition.  As with any technology, you should do your best to use current, up-to-date products that have the latest updates and security patches installed.  As technology ages, they become less compatible with current software and devices and may not work properly.  External devices, both webcams and speakerphones, are essential to a smooth videoconference.  We recommend Logitech’s HD Pro Webcam and Jabra’s noise-cancelling USB speakerphone.  You also want to ensure you have a stable internet connection.  Make sure you conduct the deposition from somewhere with a constant, high-speed internet connection.  Conducting a videoconference on a public network may be subject to varying internet speeds.  If you can, hardwire the internet connection.  If your device doesn’t have an ethernet port, try acquiring a USB ethernet adapter.  Finally, you always want to test your system with the parties involved.  Ideally, it will be the same setup and in the same location as the deposition.  Thomas & Thomas always tests with each participant prior to each deposition to ensure the user knows how to connect and that there is a stable connection.  Troubleshooting in advance ensures your deposition will get started on time and will be successful.

Recommendations for Conducting a Successful Remote Deposition:

  • Use a stable, current device – desktop, laptop, or tablet
  • Invest in an external webcam
  • Use an external, noise-cancelling speakerphone or call in telephonically
  • Use a hardwired internet connection whenever possible
  • Test, test, test!

Thomas & Thomas Court Reporters has led the way in court reporting and litigation support technology for over 40 years, and now we welcome the opportunity to assist you with any need you may have. If you would like to learn more about remote depositions, please do not hesitate to contact us. We would love to show you the multitude of services we have to offer. We look forward to making your life easier.

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Security Tips for Conducting Zoom Depositions

remote deposition

While the ability to conduct remote depositions has been around for a while, the arrival of the coronavirus has put them in the forefront of the legal community.  Platforms like Zoom, WebEx, and GoToMeeting are being used like never before; and, as a result, are exposing security issues that should be considered when conducting a deposition. 

Below are some protocols to consider prior to conducting your next remote deposition.  Please keep in mind that there are also several other aspects of Zoom depositions (i.e. devices, hardware, connections, etc.) that you will also want to address to ensure your Zoom deposition is a success.

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Security Tips for Zoom Depositions

  • Use Most Current Version of Zoom - Every so often, you will want to click on your User ID in the upper-right corner of the Zoom dialog box and select “Check for Updates.”
  • Require Passwords – Ensure you have gone into your settings and turned on the password requirement option for all sessions you create. The password for the session will then be included in the invite.
  • Enable “Waiting Rooms” – The Waiting Room feature requires the host to allow each participant into the meeting. This will further prevent unwanted guest from joining your meeting in the unlikely event they circumvent your password.
  • Do Not Use “Personal Meeting IDs” – Personal Meeting IDs are a way to use the same meeting number over and over again. As a result, they will be easier to hack than a randomly generated meeting number.

Thomas & Thomas Court Reporters has led the way in court reporting and litigation support technology for over 40 years, and now we welcome the opportunity to assist you with any need you may have. If you would like to learn more about remote depositions, please do not hesitate to contact us. We would love to show you the multitude of services we have to offer. We look forward to making your life easier.

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Thomas & Thomas Court Reporters Provides A/V Equipment Rental for Trial at Douglas County Courthouse

Thomas & Thomas Court Reporters Provides A/V Equipment Rental for Trial at Douglas County Courthouse

Thomas & Thomas Court Reporters is excited to be providing A/V support for a three-day trial at the Douglas County Courthouse this week.  Thomas & Thomas brought in four monitors, a large screen TV, ELMO document camera, and a matrix switch so the parties can present their cases in an efficient, digital manner.  Said A/V equipment can be used to show exhibits, videos, and PowerPoints to the jury, counsels’ tables, and the judge. 

Don’t feel comfortable running the equipment?  Need additional tools like trial presentation software (i.e. TrialDirector, Sanction, etc.)?  Thomas & Thomas has you covered.   Our trained trial technicians can assist you at your next trial, ensuring everything runs smoothly and the jury’s attention is kept.  Contact us today to learn more about our court reporting, legal videography, and trial services. 

 

AV Equipment Rental Douglas County Courthouse Omaha

 

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Thomas & Thomas Court Reporters Sponsors Nebraska Defense Counsel Association's Annual Meeting in Lincoln, Nebraska

On June 3, 2016, Thomas & Thomas Court Reporters was one of six Exhibitors at this year's Nebraska Defense Counsel Association's Annual Meeting in Lincoln, Nebraska.  As an exhibitor, Thomas & Thomas Court Reporters was able to show off its newest court reporting and litigation support technology, like trial presentation services and live video and text streaming.  With over ____ attorneys present, it was a great way to discuss the newest trends in court reporting and litigation support services.  Thomas & Thomas Court Reporters is proud to sponsor the Nebraska Defense Counsel Association and is already looking forward to next year’s Annual Meeting.

 

Nebraska Defense Counsel Annual Meeting

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Look to Thomas & Thomas for Realtime Text and Video Streaming

Look to Thomas & Thomas for Realtime Text and Video Streaming

Often times attorneys need to depose witnesses in various locations across the country.  Sometimes that can require additional attorneys and/or support staff members to have to travel to those various locations, which can cause the client to incur additional costs compared to a traditional, local deposition.  With the advent of realtime text and video streaming, attorneys and support staff individuals can now attend any deposition remotely.  By using various platforms, such as LiveDeposition, individuals are able to view the transcript in realtime, see and hear the deponent as he or she testifies, and communicate with their team via a private chat.  Realtime text and video streaming also gives clients the ability to attend depositions remotely in the event they want to watch the deposition, but are unwilling or unable to travel.  In addition to realtime text and video streaming, the basic function of realtime allows attorneys read the questions and answers as they happen, search the transcript for a specific word or phrase, and highlight important text for future reference.  

 

The above picture is a deposition Thomas & Thomas Court Reporters recently provided realtime text and video streaming for.  This stream was provided to various law firms, clients, and experts across the country.  As a result, numerous individuals did not have to travel to attend the deposition, reducing time, money, and effort spent by all parties.  Be sure to think of Thomas & Thomas Court Reporters the next time you need realtime text and video streaming.

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