Stick It There.
Okay. So you might have heard of these things we put in transcripts called parentheticals. They’re often used to describe something that is vital to the proceedings but not necessarily said out loud. These can be all sorts of things, including when a break was taken or when an exhibit was marked. The first thing we should say, briefly, is that you should stick your parenthetical pretty much right where the action occurs. Whenever they mark an exhibit, or the jury leaves, or even when the deposition concludes. If you do a special stroke for the parenthetical, do your special stroke right when the action occurs. If you write yourself notes, write the note.
What Do I Do Now?
There’s no real standard, as far as I know, in the law of New York, for when and what a parenthetical should be, or how it should look. So I’m just going to roll through some common ones and where they might be used. Nobody has to use my verbiage. Not everybody puts in the parentheticals for these things. Some stuff is more acceptable in deposition work, some more acceptable in court work, some acceptable in both. Some people have predefined parentheticals in their dictionary, such as “PHARBG PHARBG” for marking an exhibit. Some people, like me, write themselves notes to put in parentheticals (Hey Chris, when you’re transcribing this, you might want to put that the jury entered the room.)
Reading back testimony, court and deposition (dep) work – (Whereupon, the record was read.)
Off the record conversations, court and dep work – (Whereupon, a discussion was held off the record.)
Marked exhibits, court and dep work – (Whereupon, documents were marked as Plaintiff’s Exhibits 1 through 14 for identification.)
Witness is pointing/motioning/etc, dep work – (Indicating) or (Witness indicating).
Concluding parenthetical, dep work- (Whereupon, the deposition was concluded.)
Break in testimony, dep work – (Whereupon, a recess was taken.)
Witness makes bizarre sound relevant to the testimony, dep work – (Indicating sound).
Jury enters, court work – (Whereupon, the jury entered the room.)
Jury exits, court work – (Whereupon, the jury exited the room.)
One of my first depositions, the lawyer asked:
Q. What did you hear?
A. It was like a click, then like a eeee ereee eeeem.
Except that was my interpretation of the sound she made, and we’re generally supposed to report as opposed to interpret wherever possible, so in reality, the transcript read:
Q. What did you hear?
A. It was like a click, then like a (indicating sound).
If your gut is telling you it’s relevant, but there’s no possible spelling to convey what occurred, or what occurred was not conveyed by attorneys present, there’s probably a parenthetical for it, and you should at least ask around before you leave it out. In our line of work, the court can always rule that what we put in should be stricken or even expunged, but the court cannot rule on what is not in the transcript. You must always do your best to ensure that what occurred is reflected in the transcript truthfully and accurately.