Advisory Opinion 24
Providing attorney names/addresses of certain deposition transcripts to third parties (1995)
Statement of Facts
A freelance reporter requested the Committee on Professional Ethics for its opinion regarding the permissibility under the Code of Professional Ethics of furnishing names and addresses of the attorneys in certain deposition transcripts to another attorney so that he may contact these other attorneys and obtain copies of the deposition transcripts directly from them. A reporting firm has taken the deposition of a local doctor eleven times within the past year in completely unrelated matters. An attorney in the most recent case requests copies of the doctor's depositions in the other ten cases from the reporting firm. The firm instructs the attorney that depositions are private documents and that it cannot furnish such depositions to the attorney without the prior consent of the parties involved. The firm declines to contact all parties in the other cases to get permission. The attorney then requests the reporting firm to provide him with the names and addresses of the attorneys in those other ten cases so that he can contact these other attorneys and obtain copies of the depositions directly from them. May the reporting firm furnish the names and addresses of these attorneys to the requesting attorney?
It is the opinion of the Committee that the reporting firm may not disclose the names and addresses of the attorneys in the other ten depositions to the requesting attorney because to do so would violate the confidentiality and the security of information entrusted to the reporting firm by parties to the ten other actions. Provision No. 4 of the Code specifically requires the reporter to preserve the confidentiality and ensure the security of information, oral or written, entrusted to the reporter by any of the parties in a proceeding. In Public Advisory Opinion No. 9 (1989), the Committee concluded that, based upon the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and similar rules adopted by most state and local jurisdictions, depositions are generally not public documents, so that the reporter may make available copies of the deposition transcripts only to the parties to the action and the deponent.
The reporter's obligation to preserve confidentiality and ensure the security of information extends not only to the whole deposition transcript, but also to parts of such transcript. Protectible information in the deposition transcript includes the names and addresses of the attorneys involved in the ten other depositions. Consequently, the reporter is prohibited from disclosing such information to the requesting attorney without first obtaining the prior permission of all the parties in each of the cases.
The Committee on Professional Ethics believes that it is a violation of Provision Nos. 4 and 9 of the Code for the reporting firm to provide the names and addresses of the attorneys appearing in the ten other depositions without the prior consent of all the parties in such cases.
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.