Advisory Opinion 10
Agency transcribing depositions taken by reporters no longer with the firm
Statement of Facts
A freelance firm makes a practice of transcribing depositions originally taken by reporters no longer with the firm without contacting the former reporters about the depositions. Is this practice a violation of the NCRA Code of Professional Ethics?
The Committee believes that the best practice is for the officer before whom the deposition is taken to actually transcribe the deposition, and that the Federal Rules and most state rules patterned after the Federal Rules impose an implied responsibility on the officer before whom the deposition is taken to transcribe same.
Under the Code, there is an obligation of the firm to contact the original reporter. Only after contact and upon a refusal by the reporter to transcribe the job, or the reporter's inability to transcribe timely, should alternative means be considered. In that event, an appropriate certificate page must be attached.
The conclusion of the Committee is that the best practice is for the shorthand reporter taking the deposition to transcribe it and, in fact, there is an implied responsibility in the Federal Civil Rules that the reporter do so. This is not an absolute right, but rather a responsibility.
Freelance reporting firms often contract with attorneys and litigants directly and are expected to turn out work regardless of the cooperation of the individual reporter who reported the matter. The freelance firm should use sound judgment and discretion in making the determination of who can best serve the litigants in the timely and accurate transcription of depositions.
The question of whose obligation it is to transcribe a deposition after the reporter changes employment is best addressed in employment agreements and professional contracts before such problems arise.
It is the Committee's opinion that the described practice in the statement of facts is a violation of provisions 5 and 9 of the Code, which state as follows:
No. 5. Be truthful and accurate when making public statements or when advertising the member's qualifications or the services provided.
No. 9. Maintain the integrity of the reporting profession.
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.