Advisory Opinion 43
Providing Trial Presentation Services (2005)
Statement of Facts
The NCRA Board of Directors has requested an opinion from the Committee on Professional Ethics regarding the ethical implications when a court reporter or a court reporter's firm is involved in providing trial presentation services and becomes part of a party's litigation team.
Provision 1 of the Code compels a reporter to be fair and impartial toward each participant in a reported proceeding and always offer to provide comparable services to all parties in the proceeding. Provision 2 states that reporters must be alert to situations that are conflicts of interest or that may give the appearance of a conflict of interest. Provision 3 requires a reporter to guard against not only the fact but the appearance of impropriety.
A court reporter who reports a proceeding for a particular case may not be involved in trial presentation services for that case because if that individual is involved with creating presentations or other materials for one party to the proceeding, Provisions 1, 2 and 3 of the Code would be violated.
If a court reporter owns both a court reporting firm and a separate trial presentation firm and the firm's reporters are involved in reporting proceedings in a case where the trial presentation firm is providing services to one party to the proceeding, the fact that these services are being provided must be disclosed in writing to the other parties to the proceeding at the time trial presentation services are requested. Failure to disclose the request for trial presentation services violates Provisions 1, 2, and 3 of the Code.
If both court reporting services and trial presentation services are conducted by the same entity, which is owned by a court reporter, and the court reporting services and trial presentation services are requested in the same case, the firm must disclose in writing to all parties to the proceeding that the trial presentation services were requested. Under no circumstances may the individual reporter who reports the proceeding be the same individual who performs the trial presentation services. Failure to disclose the request for trial presentation services violates Provisions 1, 2, and 3 of the Code.
A court reporter who reports a proceeding for a particular case may not under any circumstances be involved in trial presentation services for that particular case because they would be working on the behalf of one party to the proceeding which would violate Provisions 1, 2 and 3 of the Code.
If a court reporter operates both a reporting firm and a trial presentation firm, regardless of whether they are separate legal entities with different corporate names, if the firms are providing both reporting services and trial presentation services to a party in the same case, the court reporting firm must disclose in writing that the trial presentation services are being provided as soon as the request for services occurs. Failure of the firm to disclose the request for trial presentation services violates Provisions 1, 2, and 3 of the Code.
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.