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Digital Signatures

Possibly one of the most important commitments of a small business is to never look back, but to always move forward with only the smallest of rearview mirrors as a reminder of where you’ve been and what has gotten you to where you are. However, if there is ever a time to slow down, the last weekend of every year is certainly an acceptable time for positive reflection on another year gone by.

Cleveland Reporting Partners enjoyed substantial growth in 2017, and the creativity, innovation, experience and expertise we offer in the realms of court reporting and litigation support was on display throughout the year in the blogs we wrote and published.

So before that frigid ball drops on Times Square in a few days and we look forward to what’s to come in 2018, let’s take a look back at the informative, comprehensive CRP blog articles of 2017 with brief descriptions and accolades.

COURT REPORTERS V. DIGITAL RECORDING AND VOICE RECOGNITION: A COMPREHENSIVE BREAKDOWN

The threats of technology and AI on the American workforce were all over headlines in 2017, and the legal industry was no exception. Court reporters have been threatened by emerging technologies since the advent of the tape recorder; but are any of these threats really credible?

In this article, the incredibly sophisticated technology used by court reporters to capture spoken language is explained in great detail, and then compared and contrasted to the technologies of digital recording and voice recognition.

CRP received many emails from court reporters and litigation support firm owners around the world in support of this article, and it was shared over 3,000 times on social media. It was featured nationally by the National Court Reporters Association, and got CRP co-founder and author Todd L. Persson an invite to speak about court reporting technology and the future of court reporting on the Stenographer’s World Radio national podcast. An abridged version of this article was also published in the October 2017 issue of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Journal.

READ THIS ARTICLE HERE

 

THE INS AND OUTS OF HIRING A CERTIFIED JUDICIAL INTERPRETER FOR DEPOSITION OR TRIAL

As court reporters, we often work side-by-side with interpreters to capture and preserve the record in depositions and trials that involve non-English speaking parties or witnesses. However, ensuring due process and justice takes so much more than just fluency in a source and target language.

In this article, CRP sits down with Supreme Court Certified Judicial Interpreter, Roxane King, to learn all about the training, education and experience that is needed to stop a deposition or trial involving an interpreter from turning into a nightmare.

This article was featured nationally by the National Court Reporters Association and the American Translators Association. An abridged version will be published in the January 2018 issue of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Journal.

READ THIS ARTICLE HERE

 

VIDEO DEPOSITIONS: LINGUISTICS, SEINFELD, AND JUROR ENGAGEMENT

There is a tremendous difference between written and spoken language. In this article, CRP delves deeply into the bizarre world of linguistics and pop culture, using examples from Seinfeld, My Cousin Vinny, as well as the principles of The YouTube Effect, to explain the importance of capturing discovery testimony with video to combat juror disengagement.

This article was featured nationally by the National Court Reporters Association.

READ THIS ARTICLE HERE

 

HTTPS AND LITIGATION SUPPORT: PROTECTING SENSITIVE DATA IN TRANSIT

2017 saw the introduction of Senate Joint Resolution 34 (H.Res.230) in which the House voted to repeal the broadband privacy regulations introduced in 2016 that prohibited Internet Service Providers from selling private browser activity to the highest bidder, or to anyone whatsoever. Politics aside, this certainly made the Internet a less private place to spend your time, and the security of HTTPS encryption on websites became even more important.

In this article, CRP discusses how data is transferred from a user to a website, some basics of encryption and site security, and what you need to look for in the litigation support you work with to ensure any sensitive data you may be sharing with them over the Internet is protected while in transit.

READ THIS ARTICLE HERE

 

DIGITAL SIGNATURES: PROTECTING THE DATA INTEGRITY OF ELECTRONIC TRANSCRIPTS

When we talk about digitally signed transcripts, we are talking about much more than just an electronic, cosmetic image of a signature. Data security is so important in today’s society, and electronic documents in litigation are no exception.

In this article, CRP discusses the very big difference between an electronic signature and a digital signature, and how to tell if the transcripts you are receiving from your court reporter are encrypted with a digital signature footprint to protect against corruption and/or wrongdoing from a malicious user.

READ THIS ARTICLE HERE

 

THE BENEFITS OF 7 CALENDAR DAY STANDARD DELIVERY AND EXHIBIT BUNDLED TRANSCRIPTS

In today’s fast-paced world of civil litigation, two-week standard delivery times and non-functional PDFs from your court reporters may be slowing you down. The good news is there are more efficient litigation support firms out there with a more modern philosophy.

In this article, CRP discusses the advantages of working with court reporters and litigation support who put a greater emphasis on efficiency and who offer highly functional transcripts as standard.

READ THIS ARTICLE HERE

 

WHAT YOU SHOULD EXPECT FROM YOUR COURT REPORTER

Although originally published by CRP in late 2016, every aspect of this article applied in 2017, and will continue to apply into the future regarding what you should expect from a modern-day, progressive court reporter.

In this article, CRP discusses 9 attributes of exceptional court reporters who demonstrate a complete understanding and respect not only for the preservation of the record, but for the entire discovery process itself.

CRP received many emails of praise for this article from court reporting instructors around the country, and it was featured in the 2017 Summer Edition of the Florida Court Reporters Association Newsletter.

READ THIS ARTICLE HERE

LOOKING AHEAD TO 2018

It is CRP’s mission to create value for our clients not only in the products and services we provide, but also in sharing our knowledge and experience in the industry we work in and care so deeply about. We will continue to operate with a modern litigation support philosophy in 2018 with a focus on efficiency, responsiveness, and endurance.

We would like to thank all our clients who made 2017 such an amazing year, and we look forward to seeing you out in the field in 2018!

Happy New Year from all of us at Cleveland Reporting Partners!!

CRP Co-Founders:

Grace Hilpert-Roach

Christine Zarife Green

Todd L. Persson

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UPDATE – 1/15/17

Since this article was first published, I have been informed by Thomson Reuters RealLegal technical support that their developers are aware of this issue, and they will have the issue resolved by first or second quarter of 2018. In the meantime, lawyers and law firms with a subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud Suite, which includes Adobe Acrobat DC Pro, can use the fixes described in this article to regain full PDF deposition transcript functionality.

It’s probably safe to say all of us who spend most of our days working on a PC have a love/hate relationship with automatic updates. Just last weekend, Windows 10 hijacked my laptop with updates for about a half hour, and one of the apps I use almost every day, Adobe Acrobat DC Pro, was updated to Version 2018.009.20044.

Normally, after getting over the annoying loss of use of my laptop during extended updates, I am confident that my machine is in tip-top shape and even more secure. However, after this last round, I noticed something very different in my Adobe viewer after producing deposition transcripts.

TRANSCRIPT PRODUCTION SOFTWARE

Court reporters use court reporting specific software on their individual laptops to create transcripts of the depositions or trials they report. However, the end-users (attorneys) rarely ever see this stripped-down version of the transcript. Instead, court reporters will send a simple .txt file to their court reporting/litigation support firm who then create the final, highly-functional transcripts end-users actually see using a separate transcript production software.

Professional transcript production software, such as Thomson Reuters RealLegal, will create the incredibly click-searchable and hyperlinked e-transcripts (.ptx, .ptz), as well as the bookmarked and hyperlinked PDFs most attorneys rely on for their trial preparation and organization. But there’s a catch: While these transcript production software providers have complete control of their own proprietary transcript viewers, they have no control over the changes Adobe may be making to the way in which PDFs are viewed when Adobe updates or rolls out the latest version of its own software.

PDF PRINTERS

Most software that produces text documents will have a PDF printer written into its code, and sometimes when Adobe updates its own software, all aspects of the PDFs created in the native software may not be completely readable by the newest version of the Adobe viewer. It may take a little time for the developers of the native software to update their own PDF printers to once again become completely compatible with the Adobe updates.

THE EFFECTS YOU MAY SEE USING ACROBAT DC PRO

If you use a paid version of Adobe, including Acrobat DC Pro, the update to version 2018.009.20044 may affect the viewing of bookmarks included in the PDF transcripts you receive from your court reporters, including the word index and hyperlinks to exhibits. When you open the bookmarks to the left of the body of the transcript, it will appear that the click-searchable word index is incomplete, and you may see links to only a few exhibits. However, this is not a corruption in the PDF file itself; rather, the new viewer in Acrobat 2018 is simply not recognizing the complete bookmarks or all the hyperlinks.

2 SIMPLE WAYS TO REGAIN FULL TRANSCRIPT FUNCTIONALITY

After speaking extensively to tech support at Thomson Reuters RealLegal, I learned there are two very easy fixes to this issue until their own developers can catch up with the changes Adobe has made to its Version 2018 PDF viewer.

1. DOWNLOAD ADOBE READER 11.0.10

Adobe has made it increasingly difficult to download earlier versions of Acrobat, but it is still possible. If you are an Acrobat DC Pro user, to regain full PDF transcript functionality, you can download Adobe Reader 11.0.10.

After visiting the link above, select Windows Server 2008 from the drop down box in Step 1 above. Then select English as your language in Step 2. Finally, select Reader 11.0.10 English for Windows in Step 3. Make sure the boxes in the Optional Offers are unchecked, and select Download Now.

Once Acrobat Reader 11.0.10 is installed on your PC, do not make this your default for viewing PDFs. Rather, if you use a paid version of Adobe, you will probably want to keep that version as your default PDF viewer and use this older version for the sole purpose of viewing PDF transcripts from your court reporter to enjoy the benefits of click-searchable bookmarks and hyperlinks in those files.

After Adobe Reader 11.0.10 is installed on your PC, right-click on any PDF transcript file on your PC you wish to view, select open with, and then select Adobe Reader 11.0.10. All bookmarks and hyperlinks will now be viewable and functioning as they did prior to the DC Pro update.

2. WORK SOLELY IN E-TRANSCRIPTS

A second way to combat the effects of the Adobe update to Version 2018 and still enjoy all the transcript functionality you depend on is to ditch PDFs altogether and work solely in e-transcripts (.ptx, .ptz).

As a working court reporter and firm owner, I often have to research prior transcripts in a case for an upcoming realtime deposition, or when I am reporting a case other reporters have been on prior to familiarize myself with the content, vocabulary, and proper names for that particular case. In every instance where I need to review prior transcripts, I always go straight to the e-transcripts.

E-transcripts were designed and created specifically for the litigation support industry, and they are simply cleaner and less clumsy than PDFs. An issue I have always had with PDFs of any sort is a lot of their functionality is based on a double-click. As we all know, if you don’t double-click fast enough, what ends up happening is the words you were trying to click on become highlighted and lose their functionality, and you end up having to click out of it and try again. With e-transcripts, every function is performed with a single click.

Now, there was a time not too long ago when you would have to pay extra for an e-tran, but in today’s litigation support world there are many court reporting firms that will offer them as standard with your transcript order. Even if you do not use a case management software like Westlaw’s Case Notebook, you can still get all the functionality that you were getting out of your PDFs by downloading the free E-Transcript Bundle Viewer and start working solely with e-transcripts. If you are unfamiliar with e-transcripts, ask your preferred court reporting firm to walk you through all their functions and benefits, and you may never go back to PDFs again!

PDFs ARE EMBEDDED IN E-TRANSCRIPT FILES

Yet another great thing about e-transcripts is if you do need to work with a PDF, or if you need to print a condensed or full size PDF for filing, the PDFs are already embedded in the e-transcript (.ptx) files. So not only do you have superior and cleaner file functionality with the click-searchable index and hyperlinked exhibits with an e-transcript, but you also have the full size and condensed PDFs of the transcript all in one compact file.

To extract PDFs out of an e-transcript, simply go to file and then print, then select transcript, then select full size or condensed. Next, a printer pop-up box will appear, and simply select Adobe PDF as your printer and save the PDF to your PC.

E-TRANSCRIPTS ARE DIGITALLY SIGNED AND ENCRYPTED

Data security is so important in today’s society, and electronic documents in litigation are no exception. Simply put, e-transcripts are the most secure transcript files. The e-transcripts you receive from your court reporter will be encrypted with a digital signature footprint to protect against corruption and/or wrongdoing by a malicious user. Learn more about digitally signed transcripts here.

THE GOOD NEWS

As I said earlier, it is just my personal preference to use e-transcripts over PDFs for all the reasons stated above. However, if you prefer PDFs and you are not using a paid version of Adobe, the good news is the update to Version 2018 will probably not affect you at all, and you can simply carry on with your life as you were.

However, if you are affected by Adobe’s latest update to Version 2018 with regard to transcript functionality, the solutions above can get you back to enjoying all the time-saving functions professionally-produced transcripts offer. And as always, if you have any questions regarding transcript files of any type, contact your local court reporting firm, and they should be happy to assist you in any way they can.

Viewer downloads:

E-Transcript Bundle Viewer

Adobe Reader 11.0.10

Related articles:

Getting the Most out of E-Transcripts Without a Westlaw Subscription

Digital Signatures: Protecting the Data Integrity of Electronic Transcripts

You may also like:

Court Reporters v. Digital Recording and Voice Recognition: A Comprehensive Breakdown

About the Author:

Todd L. Persson has been serving the Cleveland legal community as a court reporter since 2002 and is a Co-Founder of Cleveland-based litigation support firm Cleveland Reporting Partners, LLC. He has spoken on the future of court reporting and technology on the Stenographers World Radio national podcast, has had blogs featured nationally by the National Court Reporters Association and the American Translators Association, and has contributed content to the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Journal. To read Todd’s full bio, visit our Partners page. Connect with him on LinkedIn here.

CRP Blog Editors in Chief:

Grace Hilpert-Roach has been serving the Cleveland legal community as a court reporter since 1992 and is a Co-Founder of Cleveland Reporting Partners, LLC. To read Grace’s full bio, visit our Partners Page. Connect with her on LinkedIn here.

Christine Zarife Green has been serving the Cleveland legal community as a court reporter since 2008 and is a Co-Founder of Cleveland Reporting Partners, LLC. To read Christine’s full bio, visit our Partners Page. Connect with her on LinkedIn here.

 

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When we talk about digitally signed documents (or transcripts), we are talking about much more than just an electronic image of a signature; and a lot of times an electronic image of a signature that is pasted onto a document is mistakenly taken for a valid digital signature. If you’re confused already, you’re not alone.

“Electronic signatures” and “digital signatures” are terms that oftentimes are used interchangeably but in reality are very different. In today’s legal industry, where hardcopy transcripts are extremely rare and electronic transcripts have replaced them as the standard, it is crucial to understand and recognize the difference to be absolutely certain that the data integrity of the transcripts you receive from your court reporter has not been compromised.

ELECTRONIC VS. DIGITAL SIGNATURES

ELECTRONIC SIGNATURES:  An electronic signature is an image of a signature, most often a .jpg, that is inserted or pasted onto a document on a signature line to give the appearance that a document has been signed. Anyone with a camera phone can take a picture of a person’s signature and then paste this image onto any document. Because of this, as you may have guessed, there is no validity to this signature on electronic documents whatsoever. It is purely cosmetic, and in no way makes a document official or binding.

DIGITAL SIGNATURES:  A digital signature is a cryptographic layer of validation and security that is applied to a document to ensure the document’s authentication and integrity. When a person applies his or her digital signature to a document, the receiver can be certain that the entire document was created by the owner of the digital signature, and that no part of the document was altered in any way in transit. The digital signature key will provide a time stamp as to when the document was signed and encrypts the document so that it cannot be altered. Now, a digital signature may have an element of an electronic signature in that a cosmetic image of the signer’s signature may be placed upon a signature line, the difference being that that electronic signature’s validity is backed up by the digital signature key that encrypts the document.

An easy way to think about this is to use the analogy of US currency. When the Federal Reserve prints paper money, meaning and value is only given to this currency if it is represented that the paper money is backed by gold or silver reserves. When currency is printed without the backing of the precious metals, it loses its value and basically becomes meaningless. So you can look at an electronic signature with no digital encryption as being analogous to counterfeit currency; having no validity, value or meaning.

DIGITAL SIGNATURES AND ELECTRONIC TRANSCRIPTS

Now that you understand the difference between electronic and digital signatures, it is important to understand how this applies to the certified electronic deposition or trial transcripts you receive from your court reporter. Now, your court reporter or reporting firm should be sending you several file formats for your use for copying and pasting to aid in your work product, but at least one of the files you receive should be encrypted and meet the following characteristics of data integrity and authentication.

The digital signature footprint should be easily accessible and visible with a simple click of the mouse. In the example below, by clicking anywhere on the certificate page of the transcript, a dialogue box appears providing a time stamp of when the transcript was signed, and the name of the owner of the signature key should appear.

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The digital signature footprint should be verifiable with another click. After clicking on the “Verify Signature” box in the example above, a second dialogue box appears, providing a second layer of data protection and authenticity.

new-body-2

In the two images above, you can see that the cosmetic electronic signature’s validity is backed by the digital signature footprint dialogue boxes, verifying the authenticity and data integrity of the entire document.

THE PEACE OF MIND OF DATA INTEGRITY

One of the most critical aspects of discovery in any case is testimony, and it is the responsibility of your court reporter to capture and preserve the testimony. However, in today’s digital world, it is also critical for your court reporter to encrypt the electronic transcripts you purchase from them and validate the authenticity and integrity of the transcripts to ensure that the testimony has not been tampered with. Therefore, make sure you are working with court reporters and court reporting firms who digitally sign their certificate pages to give you the peace of mind that the testimony elicited in discovery is without a doubt preserved and protected.

You may also like: Getting the Most Out of E-Transcripts Without a Westlaw Subscription.

In another article, we discuss 9 attributes of exceptional court reporters in 2016.

About the Author:

Todd L. Persson has been serving the Cleveland legal community as a court reporter since 2002 and is a Co-Founder of Cleveland-based litigation support firm Cleveland Reporting Partners, LLC. He has spoken on the future of court reporting and technology on the Stenographers World Radio national podcast, has had blogs featured nationally by the National Court Reporters Association and the American Translators Association, and has contributed content to the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Journal. To read Todd’s full bio, visit our Partners page. Connect with him on LinkedIn here.

CRP Blog Editors in Chief:

Grace Hilpert-Roach has been serving the Cleveland legal community as a court reporter since 1992 and is a Co-Founder of Cleveland Reporting Partners, LLC. To read Grace’s full bio, visit our Partners Page. Connect with her on LinkedIn here.

Christine Zarife Green has been serving the Cleveland legal community as a court reporter since 2008 and is a Co-Founder of Cleveland Reporting Partners, LLC. To read Christine’s full bio, visit our Partners Page. Connect with her on LinkedIn here.

Keep Up to Date...
Receive an email update when we post about legal technology, court reporting, legal video and other tips for attorneys, paralegals and legal secretaries.