Advisory Opinion 4
Altering the official record
(Originally written 1987, Revised 2005 )
Statement of Facts
Following the conclusion of a trial, the judge, upon reflection, determines that certain of his remarks during the trial should not appear in the transcript. The judge directs the reporter which portions of the record, which were reported accurately, are to be deleted or altered.
During trial, counsel for one of the parties wishes to have remarks he made on the record changed.
After reviewing a court reporter's transcript, counsel for one of the parties wants to change a statement that he made during the deposition.
What are the duties and obligations of the reporter in these situations?
In Scenario 1, the reporter is duty-bound to make no material change in the transcript that would have an adverse effect upon any party or parties. If the Court wishes to change its remarks that would have this effect, it should confer with all counsel. If they agree to the change, the reporter may then make it.
The Court, however, subject to any rules or laws affecting transcripts, may make grammatical corrections of its remarks that do not affect the intent of the statement corrected in any material manner.
In Scenario 2, counsel also may request that changes be made in the record, but this must be done by motion to the court.
In Scenario 3, parties may make changes to the transcript by agreement of all parties in writing or by ruling of the court.
The court reporter, however, subject to any rules or laws affecting depositions, may make grammatical corrections in the transcript that do not affect the intent of the statement corrected in any material manner.
In Scenario 1, it is the Committee's opinion that to materially alter the record solely upon the Court's request would be a violation of Provisions 1, 3, and 9 of the Code of Professional Ethics. These provisions state that the member shall:
No. 1. Be fair and impartial toward each participant in all aspects of reported proceedings.
No. 3. Guard against not only the fact but the appearance of impropriety.
No. 9. Maintain the integrity of the reporting profession.
In Scenario 2, the court reporter could not alter the transcript for a party to the proceeding without the court's approval. To make any changes to the transcript on behalf of one party to the proceeding would violate Provisions 1, 3 and 9.
In Scenario 3, it is the Committee's opinion that to materially alter the record solely upon one party's request would be a violation of Provisions 1, 3, and 9 of the Code of Professional Ethics.
THIS PUBLIC ADVISORY OPINION REFLECTS THE STATUS OF THE LAW IN MOST JURISDICTIONS. MEMBERS ARE REQUIRED TO CONFORM TO THE ACCEPTED PRACTICES SET FORTH IN THIS PUBLIC ADVISORY OPINION TO THE EXTENT THAT SUCH PRACTICES ARE CONSISTENT WITH THEIR OWN APPLICABLE STATE AND LOCAL LAWS, RULES AND REGULATIONS.