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Policies & Procedures Manual

Policies and Procedures Manual - Section 2 - Code of Ethics and Proessional Conduct

SECTION 2:  CODE OF ETHICS AND PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT

NCRA Code of Professional Ethics

COPE - General Guidelines
COPE Complaint Procedures
Transcript Format Guidelines
Advisory Opinion Index
Advisory Opinion Procedures

Certified Legal Video Specialist

CLVS Code of Professional Ethics
CLVS Code of Ethics and Complaint Procedures

Board of Directors Standards of Ethical Conduct

Board Standards of Ethical Conduct Complaint Procedures 


NCRA Code of Professional Ethics

Revision:  March 2016

Preamble

The mandatory Code of Professional Ethics defines the ethical relationship the public, the bench, and the bar have a right to expect from a Member.  The Code sets out the conduct of the Member when dealing with the user of reporting services and acquaints the user, as well as the Member, with guidelines established for professional behavior.  The Guidelines for Professional Practice, on the other hand, are goals which every Member should strive to attain and maintain.  Members are urged to comply with the Guidelines and must adhere to local, state and federal rules and statutes. It should be noted that these guidelines do not exhaust the moral and ethical considerations with which the Member should conform, but provide the framework for the practice of reporting.  Not every situation a Member may encounter can be foreseen, but a Member should always adhere to fundamental ethical principles.  By complying with the Code of Professional Ethics and Guidelines for Professional Practice, Members maintain their profession at the highest level.

Code of Professional Ethics

A Member Shall:

  1. Be fair and impartial toward each participant in all aspects of reported proceedings, and always offer to provide comparable services to all parties in a proceeding.
  2. Be alert to situations that are conflicts of interest or that may give the appearance of a conflict of interest.  If a conflict or a potential conflict arises, the Member shall disclose that conflict or potential conflict.
  3. Guard against not only the fact but the appearance of impropriety.
  4. Preserve the confidentiality and ensure the security of information, oral or written, entrusted to the Member by any of the parties in a proceeding.
  5. Be truthful and accurate when making public statements or when advertising the Member's qualifications or the services provided.
  6. Refrain, as an official reporter, from freelance reporting activities that interfere with official duties and obligations.
  7. Determine fees independently, except when established by statute or court order, entering into no unlawful agreements with others with respect to fees to any user.
  8. Refrain from giving, directly or indirectly, any gift or anything of value to attorneys or their staff, other clients or their staff, or any other persons or entities associated with any litigation, which exceeds $100 in the aggregate per recipient each year. Nothing offered in exchange for future work is permissible, regardless of its value.  Pro bono services as defined by the NCRA Guidelines for Professional Practice or by applicable state and local laws, rules and regulations are permissible in any amount.
  9. Maintain the integrity of the reporting profession.
  10. Abide by the NCRA Constitution & Bylaws.

COPE - General Guidelines

http://www.ncra.org/About/content.cfm?ItemNumber=8645&navItemNumber=584

Section I - Court Reporter
Section II - Realtime Reporter in Legal Proceedings
Section III - Guidelines On Providing Uncertified Rough Draft Transcripts
Section IV - Backup Audio Media

COPE Complaint Procedures

http://www.ncra.org/About/content.cfm?ItemNumber=10824&navItemNumber=11166

All members are afforded an opportunity to appeal decisions made.  Complaint procedures can be made by members; however, the primary focus of COPE is protection of the consumer and not the reporter.

Transcript Format Guidelines

http://www.ncra.org/About/content.cfm?ItemNumber=9202&navItemNumber=585

Advisory Opinion Index

http://www.ncra.org/About/content.cfm?ItemNumber=10152&navItemNumber=586

Advisory Opinions are for the benefit of profession.

Advisory Opinion Procedures

Any Member in good standing may submit to the Committee on Professional Ethics a request for an Advisory Opinion. Advisory Opinions shall consist of (1) Private Advisory Opinions and (2) Public Advisory Opinions.

  1. Private Advisory Opinions
    1. A Private Advisory Opinion may be requested in lieu of proceeding with a complaint, as provided in Section A(3) of the Complaint Procedures, or by persons who seek guidance as to whether certain actions or conduct are permitted under the Code of Professional Ethics.
    2. The Committee shall keep confidential the identity of the person or persons making the request and the identity of those names in the request, unless otherwise directed by the Board of Directors.
    3. The Committee's response to requests for Private Advisory Opinions shall be within the limitations of the information received by the Committee.  Additional information may be requested by the Committee, if needed.
  2. Public Advisory Opinions
    1. The Committee may from time to time recommend publication of Public Advisory Opinions which illuminate one or more of the provisions of the Code of Professional Ethics.  These opinions may be based on facts derived from requested Private Advisory Opinions, deleting reference to names or places, or on an assumed state of facts.
  3. Review
    1. The Board of Directors may review any Private or Public Advisory Opinion on its own motion and adopt, modify, or reject it in whole or in part.

Certified Legal Video Specialist Code of Professional Ethics

CLVS Code of Ethics and Complaint Procedures

Revision: February 2009

CLVS Code of Professional Ethics

Preamble

The mandatory Code of Professional Ethics for Certified Legal Video Services (CLVS) defines the ethical relationship the public, the bench, and the bar have a right to expect from a CLVS Member. The Code sets out the conduct of the CLVS Member when dealing with the user of video services and acquaints the user, as well as the Member, with guidelines established for professional behavior. By complying with the CLVS Code of Professional Ethics, CLVS Members maintain their profession at the highest level.

A CLVS Member must also adhere to the voluntary Principles for Professional Practice when providing legal video services as well as all local, state and federal rules and statutes.

A CLVS Member Shall:

  1. Render services to all parties in a competent manner. A CLVS shall maintain the integrity of the legal video profession.
  2. Perform all tasks in a professional manner, observing all laws, rules and orders of the court relating to the proceedings.
  3. Refrain from performing any service under terms or conditions that will compromise, in any way, his or her impartiality or the exercise of good judgment. A CLVS shall not adversely affect the fair and impartial portrayal of the proceeding.
  4. Refrain from doing anything that affects the impartiality of the CLVS.
  5. Absent the consent of the parties concerned or a court order, a CLVS shall not reveal confidential information entrusted in or provided to such CLVS by any of the parties.
  6. Be truthful and accurate when making public statements or when advertising the CLVS' qualifications or the services provided.
  7. Determine fees independently, except when established by statute or court order, entering into no unlawful agreements with others with respect to fees to any user.
  8. Refrain from giving, directly or indirectly, any gift or anything of value to attorneys or their staff, other clients or their staff, or any other persons or entities associated with any litigation, which exceeds $100 in the aggregate per recipient each year. Nothing offered in exchange for future work is permissible, regardless of its value.  Pro bono services as defined by the NCRA Guidelines for Professional Practice or by applicable state and local laws, rules and regulations are permissible in any amount.

COPE - Complaint Procedures

The following procedures shall be followed in instituting and resolving complaints that a Member of the Association or an individual certified by the Association has violated the Code of Professional Ethics (CODE), CLVS Code of Ethics (CLVS CODE), and/or Constitution & Bylaws (C&B) of the Association.

"Executive Director" refers to the Executive Director or his or her designated representative.

  1. Filing and Investigation of Complaints

Any person may file a complaint against a Member of the Association or an individual certified by the Association on an approved NCRA complaint form, or in a format meeting the requirements set forth in Paragraph A.2. The Executive Director shall promptly acknowledge receipt of all complaints. The Executive Director shall send a copy of these complaint procedures, the CODE or CLVS CODE, whichever is applicable, and the C&B to the person making the complaint. If the complaint does not contain all of the required information, the Executive Director shall advise the person making the complaint that further information must be provided before any further action can be taken, and shall specify what further information is required. Any complaint not meeting the requirements of Paragraph A.2. will not be considered.

All complaints must be in writing, signed by the person making the complaint, and addressed to the Executive Director of the Association. All complaints must contain the name and address of the Member complained against, a description of the conduct complained of, and references to the specific provisions of the CODE or CLVS CODE and/or C&B involved in the complaint. In addition, the complaint must include all pertinent documentation which is made to substantiate the complaint, available at the time of the complaint. All complaints must be signed by the complainant and the complainant must affirm that the facts stated in the complaint are true and accurate to the best of the complainant's knowledge and belief. The complaint must also contain the complainant's consent for the Association's disclosure of the complaint to the Member or certified individual complained against, the members of the Committee of Professional Ethics, and Association directors, officers and appropriate staff.

Despite the satisfaction of all the requirements of Paragraph A.2, the NCRA Executive Director, the Chair of the Committee and a NCRA staff liaison to the Committee may determine, in their sole discretion, not to send the complaint to the full Committee if the complaint (a) fails to state grounds upon which the Committee may recommend action; or (b) is beyond the scope or authority of the Committee. If the complaint involves purely business practice issues or ethics and business practice issues, as determined by COPE, the complaint will be referred first to alternative dispute resolution to address those issues outside the scope of the Committee. After the business practice issues have been resolved, the complainant may file an ethics complaint with COPE.

If the complaint is not sent to the full Committee for the reasons set forth in this Paragraph, the NCRA Executive Director shall inform the complainant in writing of such fact and the reasons why the full Committee will not consider the complaint. The full Committee shall review all decisions not to send the complaint to the Committee at its regularly scheduled meetings and, on its own motion, may decide to consider a complaint previously dismissed.

Once a complaint is accepted for processing, NCRA will send all written communications to the person making the complaint and the Member or certified individual complained against by certified mail, overnight express courier or hand delivery. The Executive Director shall forward a copy of the complaint to the Member or certified individual complained against, along with a copy of these complaint procedures, and a copy of the appropriate Code of Professional Ethics, and request that the Member or certified individual respond to the complaint in writing within thirty (30) days from the date of the letter of notification. A copy of any response received shall be forwarded to all other parties.

NCRA shall keep confidential all records, documents, files and evidence pertaining to a complaint, and proceedings will be closed to the public, except as may be necessary for compliance with these complaint procedures or to take ancillary action with respect thereto, or unless ordered otherwise by a court or agency of competent jurisdiction. Any party initiating a complaint shall agree in writing not to disclose all or part of any record, document, file, evidence, the decision of the Committee or any decision of the Board as well as to indemnify and hold harmless the association from any claim or action that may result from such improper disclosure. Furthermore, any party violating these confidentiality provisions shall be subject to sanctions under these procedures. If a reporter's membership is suspended or revoked for violating the Code, NCRA shall publish that information in the Journal of Court Reporting or other NCRA publication, after a decision on a complaint is final (i.e. the Committee has rendered a decision on an unappealed complaint or the Board has rendered its decision on an appealed complaint). Should a Member resign his or her membership in NCRA while an ethics complaint is pending, the Committee shall complete the processing of the complaint as specified in these procedures.

     B. Proceedings by the Committee on Professional Ethics

When the thirty-day (30) period has elapsed, the Executive Director shall forward the complaint, documents submitted, and the response, if any, to the Committee on Professional Ethics. The Committee on Professional Ethics may reach its decision based on the complaint and the response, if any, or may ask the Executive Director to obtain additional information. The Committee may also grant an opportunity for the person making the complaint and the Member or certified individual complained of to be heard either in person, through legal counsel or in a format agreed to by all parties. If the Committee determines there are disputed issues of fact that are material to its decision, it may grant any party an opportunity to present relevant information, including documents and witnesses, and an opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses called by any party. The Committee shall be the judge of the relevance and materiality of any information offered, and conformity to legal rules of evidence shall not be necessary.

The Committee shall thereafter prepare a written decision containing its findings of fact and conclusions. It may issue a cautionary letter, warning or statement of advice to the Member or certified individual. The Committee may on a case-by-case assign an ethics seminar to Members or certified individuals who have violated the Code. If the Committee requires a Member or certified individual to take one or more ethics seminars, the reporter or certified individual will be informed of this requirement in their decision letter.

Alternatively, the Committee may recommend to the Board of Directors that the Member be expelled or suspended (up to one (1) year) from the Association, or may order that the Member or certified individual be reprimanded. If the Committee decides that a member or certified individual be suspended or expelled from the Association or their certification revoked, this decision shall not become effective unless it is sustained by the Board of Directors in accordance with the Constitution and Bylaws. The committee decision for expulsion or suspension or certification revocation requires a two-thirds (2/3) vote of the Board of Directors at a meeting at which a quorum is present.

The Committee shall inform all parties as to the status of the complaint within ninety (90) days after the case is received by the Committee from the Executive Director. If a hearing is scheduled, the Committee shall render its decision within sixty (60) days after the hearing is completed. Notwithstanding the above, the Committee or the Board may suspend the processing of the complaint pending the outcome of any related administrative, civil or criminal proceedings, or for any other reason deemed appropriate by the Committee or the Board to ensure fairness or due process for all parties.

     C.  Appeals

The Executive Director shall promptly send a copy of the decision of the Committee on Professional Ethics to the person making the complaint and the Member or certified individual complained against. If a party wishes to appeal the Committee's decision, such appeal must be filed in writing to the Board of Directors within 30 days from the date of the letter notifying all parties of the Committee's decision. The appeal must specify the grounds upon which the party contends the Committee's decision is erroneous and should be revised.

If no appeal is taken within the thirty-day (30) period from a decision by the Committee on Professional Ethics, the Committee’s decision will be final and a copy of the decision will be placed in the Member’s or certified individual’s confidential file; provided that the Board of Directors shall sustain any decision to suspend or expel a Member or revoke a certified individual’s certification in accordance with the Constitution and Bylaws.

If an appeal is received within the thirty-day (30) period, the Executive Director shall forward it to the other parties to the proceeding. Any party to the proceeding desiring to respond to the appeal must do so within fifteen (15) days from the date of the Committee's letter of notification that an appeal has been made. When the fifteen-day (15) period has elapsed, the Executive Director shall forward to the Board of Directors the appeal, any response, and all other documentation relating to the matter. The Board may decide the matter on the basis of these documents, or may grant a request for oral argument made by any party, in person or through their attorney. The Board may affirm, reverse, modify or return the decision to the Committee on Professional Ethics for further review with specific reasons therefore.

     D. Costs and Expenses

Each party shall bear his or her own costs and expenses with respect to any proceeding, except in regard to an appeal of the Committee's decision. In that case, at the discretion of the Executive Director, each party shall be required to bear the costs for producing copies of all documents necessary for the Board to review and decide the appeal.

Board of Directors Standards of Ethical Conduct

Revision: March 2016
Original Adoption:  February 2006

Members of the Board of Directors of the National Court Reporters Association are committed to observing and promoting the highest standards of ethical conduct in the performance of their responsibilities on the Board.  Board members pledge to accept these standards as a minimum guideline for ethical conduct and shall:

Accountability

    • Abide in all respects by the NCRA Code of Professional Ethics and all other rules and regulations of the Association (including but not limited to the Association’s Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws) and will ensure that their registered membership in the Association remains in good standing at all times.  
    • Review all information and materials sent in connection with Board business and attend the meetings of the Board and the Board committees to which appointment is accepted.
    • Fully disclose, at the earliest opportunity, any information that may result in a perceived or actual conflict of interest and act in accordance with the NCRA Conflict of Interest policy.
    • Exercise reasonable care, good faith and due diligence in the Association’s affairs.
    • Fully disclose, at the earliest opportunity, information of fact that would have significance in board decision-making.
    • Remain accountable for prudent fiscal management of the Association.


Professional Responsibilities

    • Exercise extreme care in all oral or written statements and personal speaking engagementsto separate expression of personal opinion or belief from communications carrying the color of authority of the Association.   Further, position/title on the Board will not be used when expressing a personal opinion unless acting within one’s capacity and duties as a Board member and representing the Board and the Association’s position on such issue. A disclaimer shall be made indicating that the board member is appearing in a private/personal capacity and not as an NCRA representative. This disclaimer does not relieve you of your duty to be bound by the Board Standards of Ethical Conduct.
    • Refrain from discussing outside of the meeting room individual differences and opinions about Board and Board Committee decisions.
    • Strive to develop, encourage and uphold the highest standards of personal and professional conduct among one’s colleagues and the NCRA membership as a whole.
    • Exercise the powers vested for the good of all members and the Association itself rather than for personal benefit.
    • Avoid situations which may be improper or may give the appearance of impropriety.


Confidential Information

    • A Board Member shall not use NCRA materials or assets to inure to their personal or professional use or benefit.
    • Respect the confidentiality of information acquired through Board service.
    • Remain diligent and alert as to what information learned during Board service can or should be shared with others.
    • Except as the Board of Directors may otherwise require or as otherwise required by law, no Board member shall share, copy, reproduce, transmit, divulge or otherwise disclose any confidential information related to the affairs of the Association, and each member of the Board will uphold the strict confidentiality of meetings and other deliberations and communications of the Board of Directors.
    • “Confidential information” includes but is not limited to discussions in Executive Sessions and information on employees (including compensation); except to the extent that this information is publically available (such as on the Form 990 and the annual audit report).


Collaboration and Cooperation

    • Exhibit and maintain a professional level of courtesy, respect and objectivity in all matters related to Association business, including but not limited to Board meetings, assignments, committee work, interactions with other Board members, interactions with members, recognizing that appointment to the Board is a privilege bestowed by one’s colleagues to serve the membership and the mission of the Association.
    • Respect the diversity of opinions as expressed or acted upon by any member or group of members.
    • Promote collaboration, cooperation and partnership among NCRA members.

This form will be annually reviewed by the Board and signed by each officer and director.

Board Standards of Ethical Conduct Complaint Procedures

Revision: March 2016
Original Adoption: December 2009

The Board Standards of Ethical Conduct (“Board Standards”) is intended to provide guidance and support for the Directors and Officers of NCRA and is not intended to be punitive.  Should an allegation be made that a Director or Officer  currently serving on the NCRA Board of Directors has violated the Board Standards, reasonable attempts shall first be made to resolve the matter informally and collaboratively, and in a positive and supportive manner, with the participation of all Directors and Officers, including the Director or Officer complained against.  Sanctions against a Director or Officer shall only be considered as a last resort.

The following procedures (“the Procedures”) shall be followed in instituting and resolving formal complaints that a Director or Officer currently serving on the NCRA Board of Directors (“Board”) has violated the Board Standards

These Procedures shall only be utilized if an attempt to reach an informal and collaborative resolution is insufficient or deemed by the Board to be inappropriate given the severity of the allegation(s).

As a general rule, once these Procedures have commenced, the Director or Officer that is the subject of the complaint shall not participate in any of the Board’s deliberations on that complaint, nor shall the complainant.  Depending upon the circumstances of a particular complaint and the severity of the sanctions that are being considered, the Board may allow greater participation by the parties.

“Executive Director” refers to the Executive Director or his or her designated representative.

A.    Filing and Investigation of Complaints

    1. Any NCRA Director, Officer or Member may file a complaint against a Director or Officer currently serving on the NCRA Board of Directors.  All complaints must be in writing, signed by the person making the complaint, and addressed to the Executive Director of the Association.  All complaints must contain the name of the Officer or Director complained against, a description of the conduct complained of, and references to the specific provisions of the Board Standards involved in the complaint.  In addition, the complaint must include all pertinent documentation which is made to substantiate the complaint, available at the time of the complaint.  All complaints must be signed by the complainant and the complainant must affirm that the facts stated in the complaint are true and accurate to the best of the complainant's knowledge and belief.  The complaint must also contain the complainant's consent for the Association's disclosure of the complaint to the Director or Officer complained against, the members of the Board of Directors, and appropriate staff.
    2. Once a complaint has been filed and all conditions enumerated in #1 above have been met, NCRA will send all written communications to the person making the complaint and the Director or Officer complained against.  The Executive Director shall forward a copy of the complaint to the Director or Officer, along with a copy of these complaint Procedures, and a copy of the Standards, and request that the Director or Officer respond to the complaint in writing within thirty (30) days from the date of the letter of notification.    A copy of any response received shall be forwarded to all other parties.
    3. NCRA shall keep confidential all records, documents, files and evidence pertaining to a complaint, and proceedings will be closed to the public, except as may be necessary for compliance with these complaint Procedures or to take ancillary action with respect thereto, or unless ordered otherwise by a court or agency of competent jurisdiction.  
    4. Any party initiating a complaint shall agree in writing not to disclose all or part of any record, document, file, evidence, the decision of the Board as well as to indemnify and hold harmless the association from any claim or action that may result from such improper disclosure of information related to the complaint and conduct of the complaint proceeding.  
    5. Should a Director or Officer resign from the Board or resign his or her membership in NCRA after these Procedures have been started, the Board shall complete the processing of the complaint as specified in these Procedures.     

B.    Proceedings by the Board of Directors

    1. When the thirty-day (30) period has elapsed, or earlier, if a response is received earlier, the Executive Director shall forward the complaint, documents submitted, and the response, if any, to the Board of Directors.  The Board may reach its decision based on the complaint and the response, if any, or may ask the Executive Director to obtain additional information.  The Board may also grant an opportunity for the person making the complaint and the Director or Officer complained against to be heard either in person, through legal counsel or in a format agreed to by all parties.  If the Board determines there are disputed issues of fact that are material to its decision, it may grant any party an opportunity to present relevant information, including documents and witnesses, and an opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses called by any party.  The Board shall be the judge of the relevance and materiality of any information offered, and conformity to legal rules of evidence shall not be necessary.
    2. The Board shall thereafter prepare a written decision containing its findings of fact and conclusions.  If the Board finds that a violation has occurred, it may issue a private reprimand, a public reprimand or (in the case of an Officer) may suspend or remove the Officer from his/her position on the Board.
    3. Sanctions imposed by the Board shall be determined by a simple majority vote of the Board, except that removal of an Officer from his or her position shall be governed by the requirements of Article VI, Section 3 of the Constitution and Bylaws, specifically, that such removal may be made by “a three-fourths (3/4) vote of the Board of Directors at a meeting at which a quorum is present whenever in its judgment the best interests of the Association would be served thereby. Such removal shall be without prejudice to the contract rights, if any, of the person so removed.”
    4. The Board may suspend the processing of the complaint pending the outcome of any related administrative, civil or criminal proceedings, or for any other reason deemed appropriate by the Committee to ensure fairness or due process for all parties.
    5. All decisions of the Board shall be final and not subject to any appeal.

C.    Costs and Expenses

Each party shall bear his or her own costs and expenses with respect to any proceeding except as may be specifically authorized by the Board.

D.    Compliance Statement

    1. Each Director and Officer shall be provided with a copy of the Board Standard of Ethical Conduct (“the Board Standards”) and this procedures document (“the Procedures”) and shall affirm that they have read, understand and agree to be bound by the Board Standards and the Procedures.  
    2. Each potential candidate for a Director or Officer position shall be provided with a copy of the Board Standards and the Procedures and shall affirm that they have read, understand and agree to be bound by the Board Standards and the Procedures.
    3. NCRA shall publish the Board Standards and the Procedures, and a listing of those Officers, Directors, and candidates for Officer or Director that have agreed to be bound by them on its Web site.