The Ink Slinger is on holiday. So for your 4th of July reading pleasure an update of an oldie but goodie. . .
Let’s face it, to the outside observer, the act of court reporting looks a little foreign. In retrospect (30 years of retrospect), it really was foreign in the beginning. The best way to describe it to a nonreporter is that it’s a little like learning to rub your stomach and pat your head simultaneously. As a neophyte, it takes a lot of concentration and coordination, but over time most veteran reporters have learned how to check out and make mental grocery lists. But while our minds can go a lot of places throughout the course of the day, our hands are still on the keys keeping up. In fact, it’s the only thing our hands can do.
Things we can’t do simultaneously with our hands while reporting proceedings? Drinking water, no can do. Eating, requires hands; nope. Polish our nails, fix our hair, adjust anything, text, e-mail, wave hi or goodbye, salute, light fireworks. (Yes, that’s me in the picture.) I think you’re catching on. While people are talking on the record, reporters cannot do anything else with their hands other than report the proceedings. An add-on to the list would include taking an exhibit from an attorney who is handing it to us while they are still talking. But they do it. Or they try.
Thirty years of this can wear a girl’s patience thin. They just don’t seem to be catching on. Attorneys frequently look at reporters with annoyance when they don’t reach out and take the exhibit from the their hands while s/he is still talking. So I’ve developed a specially patented look for attorneys who want to hand me an exhibit while their lips are still moving. It looks like this.Keep talking. Keep talking. I’m smiling at you like this while you keep talking.
Now, for normal people (defined as those not in the legal industry), exhibits run the gamut from run-of-the-mill documents to machine parts in products liability cases to devices in patent disputes to penile implants to defective breast implants to prosthetic pieces parts. And yes, I’ve seen them all. Basically, if you can sue over it, we’re going to put an exhibit sticker on it. Even if it is a prosthetic ass. Freshly removed from the witness’s pants. No, I’m not kidding.
I remember that deposition well, the time I politely turned away while counsel described the witness’s bare ass (minus one cheek) on the record, only to turn toward counsel on cue — “Miss Reporter, would you mark this exhibit, please” — to find myself face to cheek with the witness’s prosthetic ass. Now I know I just complained about attorneys who continue to talk while they expect the reporter to take the exhibit from them and mark it, but in this particular instance it was a blessing. And I think that’s the day I perfected this look. . . . .
Because while he was still talking, I was still writing and therefore could not grab a stranger’s [fake] ass. Finally, it dawned on him what that look (see above) meant — in conjunction with NOT taking that piece of ass — and I was relieved of my exhibit-marking duty.
In addition to perfecting “the look,” I have also come up with an extensive list of items I will not mark (nor touch) as an exhibit: Anything that has been inside the human body or attached to the human body. Pretty much covers it.
What about you, Miss Reporter? What’s the weirdest exhibit you’ve ever marked?