Who Are You Really Ordering a Transcript From?
You can request transcripts either from the court itself or from a transcription company. When you go to the court to make your transcript request, you’ll be given a few options. Some hearings may have been attended by a stenographer or a court reporter and, in that case, the transcript is already in their possession, so you just need to ask for it. Otherwise, you’ll be supplied with a list of approved transcription companies to choose from and, from that list, you pick the one that you would like to provide this service. The court then sends the audio of your hearing or deposition to the company of your choice on your behalf.
This is a two-step process that must follow the same order every time. Effectively, you are making your request with the court and then placing an order with the transcription company.
Do You Understand Your Specific Needs?
Before you request your transcript, you should ask yourself whether or not you’ll be using it in court. In other words, will you be submitting it into evidence or using it to build your case? If so, then the request you make with the court should be to have the audio transcribed, which initiates the process of selecting an approved transcription company. On the other hand, if you only wish to obtain a copy of the audio recording for your own listening purposes, then the request you make with the court should be to listen to the recorded proceedings.
The two requests are totally different; you cannot privately obtain a transcript of audio given to you by the court, because that transcript would be inadmissible in a case. Conversely, if you request a transcript and select a company to perform the transcription, you will be unable to listen to the audio yourself; you will only be able to review the transcript they produce for you. This rule prevents the recorded proceedings from being tampered with and is, therefore, in your favor. If you are requesting the transcript for other purposes, and do not intend to use it in court, then the rule does not apply. You can then request the audio and have it transcribed however, and by whomever, you’d like.
It is important that you understand what your needs are before making the request, because it will help you pick the best (and most cost-effective) path to obtaining the transcript that you want.
After Requesting Your Transcript from the Court, When Will You Receive It?
If you are using the transcript in court, then you should know when your next court date is, or at least when you will need to use it. General court personnel will not be familiar with your particular case or your needs, so it’s up to you to let them know if your request is time-sensitive. Without knowing your circumstances, and depending on the court’s workflow, it could be a couple of weeks before the recording reaches the transcription company. Therefore, when matters are time-sensitive, simply writing “RUSH” on the top of your request form will usually convey the urgency of your needs.
This is especially important since the process of delivering audio recordings differs for each court. Some provide them digitally, so if yours needs to be rushed, then a digital transfer is much more expedient. Other courts send CDs or audio cassettes by postage mail, meaning that even if you need your request expedited, this method of delivery is likely to add on a few extra days, so you’ll need to be well-informed ahead of time and prepared for this scenario.
Ultimately, upon receiving your audio file, a representative from the transcription agency will usually contact you to explain turnaround time and other relevant details.
Is There Anything Else the Transcription Company Should Know?
Once the transcription agency has received your request, make sure that you relay any additional relevant information. Of course, the basics will be on the form itself (e.g., case name, docket number, etc.), but other key details are often missing, such as the names of parties present or mentioned, law firm names, and technical or unique terminology spoken in your case. If you share this information with the company before the transcription process begins, then the misspelling of words, names, and phrases are likely to be greatly reduced.
In short, when preparing to have your court proceedings transcribed, it’s important that you understand the differences in requests, your options, your circumstances, and turnaround times. Bear in mind that, throughout this article, we’ve described the process for New York State Court transcript requests as an example. The process will be similar in most courts, but each state will have a few of its own unique steps to follow, so please check with your local court for more details.
What are your thoughts and/or experiences with this process? Feel free to email us or leave a comment below!