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NCRA Files Brief in Expedited Fee Case

NCRA filed an amicus curiae brief in the California Court of Appeal in a case involving a dispute over an "expedite" fee that was charged by a court reporter in a civil action. The lawyer for the party that noticed a deposition asked for an expedited copy of the transcript. The other party's lawyer also asked for an expedited copy, but refused to pay any extra fee on the grounds that no extra work was required by the court reporter to produce another copy after it already had been transcribed. The court reporter delivered the transcript so that the other party's lawyer would not be prejudiced, but the dispute over the expedite fee was preserved.

The trial court in which the action was pending ruled that it did not have jurisdiction to determine the prices set by court reporters. The question of whether the trial court had authority over court reporters' fees in a deposition setting is now on appeal. The California Court of Appeal invited NCRA to file an amicus brief.

NCRA's brief argues the trial court does not have any express or implied authority to regulate the prices (e.g., expedite fees) charged by court reporters for depositions. The amicus brief explains that unless the prices for deposition transcripts, copies, and ancillary services are split between the parties, court reporters would need to increase the price to the party noticing a deposition in order to earn fair compensation for their efforts. NCRA included this information in light of a comment by the trial court judge that the reporter's fees were "unconscionable."

NCRA indicated that it was not aware of any state or jurisdiction in which a trial court has the authority to determine the prices that court reporters charge for their deposition services. Such prices are set by market forces depending upon the experience and qualifications of the court reporter. Lawyers are free to negotiate alternative pricing arrangements with court reporters before a deposition begins or to discuss with opposing counsel possibly hiring a different reporter if the lawyer still is not satisfied. Also, if any lawyer has a dispute with a court reporter, the lawyer can always file a breach of contract or unfair business practices claim, or file a complaint with the government oversight board that normally licenses and regulates court reporters.