Advisory Opinion 15
Determining the order of transcript delivery and/or Submitting transcripts to third parties to distribute
(1993, combined with No. 16; 2013)
Statement of Facts
The Board of Directors and an attorney have asked for an opinion from the Committee of Professional Ethics on whether a Member should submit a transcript, exhibits, or videos to an attorney for a party or a third-party consulting/management firm for the purpose of review before making it available to all ordering parties?
The Committee believes that Provisions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 9 of the Code, which are designed to maintain the reporter’s neutrality and independence, and preserve the confidentiality and ensure the security of the reported information, prohibit the distribution of transcripts, exhibits or videos in the manner set forth above.
Provision 1 of the Code requires the Member to be fair and impartial toward each participant of the reported proceedings. Provision 2 requires the Member to be alert to situations that present a conflict of interest or that may give the appearance of a conflict of interest. Provision 3 requires the Member to guard against not only the fact, but also the appearance of impropriety. Provision 4 requires the Member to preserve the confidentiality and ensure the security of information, oral or written, entrusted to the Member by any of the parties in a proceeding. Provision 9 requires the Member to maintain the integrity of the reporting profession.
These five provisions, when taken together, are designed to uphold and maintain the status of the court reporter as a neutral and impartial “officer of the court”. Members must always be wary of and avoid situations that create or give the appearance of creating partiality or favoritism toward one party to the action over the others. The Member who makes the official record also must not act or appear to serve as an advocate for or to favor one party over another.
It is the Committee’s opinion that it is a violation of Provisions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 9 of the Code of Professional Ethics for a member to submit transcripts, exhibits, or videos (and/or portions of said items) to ordering attorneys or third parties, such as a consulting/management firm that may have a special relationship with or be associated or affiliated with one or more of the parties to the litigation, prior to offering the submission of said items to all parties to the proceeding and their counsel.
The Committee points out that transcript, exhibit, and video custody, control, confidentiality and transcript certification requirements are often governed by federal, state, and local statutes, the Certified Shorthand Reporter statutes, and rules of the various states and/or rules of the federal, state, and local courts or administrative departments. This opinion applies to an NCRA Member, regardless of whether they operate through a freelance agency, a local videography firm, or otherwise. To the extent that the Committee’s views in the Advisory Opinion are not inconsistent with such federal, state, or local rules, law, rules and regulations, a Member shall adhere to the principles set forth herein.
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.