Advisory Opinion 34
Certifying a transcript from a source other than directly from the reporter (1998)
Statement of Facts
A Member has requested an opinion from the Committee on Professional Ethics as to whether the Code of Professional Ethics permits a reporter to certify a copy of that reporter’s transcript obtained by an attorney from a computer database rather than directly from the reporter.
One of the key elements of the typical certification page is a statement by the reporter that the transcript is a true and accurate record of the proceeding (See Public Advisory Opinion No. 19). Provision No. 3 of the Code requires a reporter to guard against not only the fact but also the appearance of impropriety. Provision No. 5 mandates that a reporter be truthful and accurate when making public statements. Provision No. 9 requires members to maintain the integrity of the reporting profession. A reporter should not certify that a transcript is a true and accurate record of the proceeding if the transcript has not been personally produced by that reporter (or under that reporter’s direction and control) or verified by that reporter.
If the reporter has a copy of the original certified transcript in that reporter’s possession, the reporter should provide a copy of that transcript to counsel. If the reporter does not have a copy of the original certified transcript, the reporter may verify the transcript provided by counsel against the reporter’s stenographic notes and then certify it. If the reporter does not have access to any stenographic notes or other records that may be used to verify the proffered transcript, the reporter may not certify that transcript.
The Committee on Professional Ethics has determined that a reporter may not certify a copy of a transcript if that transcript has been obtained from any source other than from the record produced under the direction and in the custody and control of the reporter who reported the proceeding unless the reporter verifies the transcript against the reporter’s stenographic notes or other appropriate records before certifying such a copy. Such a certification would constitute a violation of Provisions 3, 5 and 9 of the Code, that deal with avoiding the fact and appearance of impropriety, making truthful and accurate public statements, and maintaining 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.