Should a Court Reporter Act as Both the Verbatim Reporter and the Videographer for the Same Proceeding
(Originally written, 2006)
Statement of Facts
A freelance court reporter has requested an opinion from the Committee on Professional Ethics regarding ethics issues involved when a court reporter acts as both the verbatim reporter and the videographer for the same proceeding.
The Committee believes that a reporter has an ethical duty not to enter into a business relationship that compromises the reporter’s ability to produce an accurate record. Doing so creates the appearance of impropriety and undermines the integrity of the profession. Acting as the videographer for a proceeding can be a very complex endeavor as evidenced by the number of Standards set forth by NCRA’s Certified Legal Video Specialist Committee. For example, Standard 25 states that “the videographer shall continuously monitor the video recording with a monitor/receiver which is connected to the output of the VCR.” The Committee believes that a single person cannot continuously monitor the recording while simultaneously producing a stenographic reporting of the proceeding.
Provision No. 3 of the Code requires a reporter to guard against not only the fact but also the appearance of impropriety. Provision No. 9 requires a reporter to maintain the integrity of the reporting profession. The paramount duty of the reporter is to produce an accurate record. For a reporter to agree to perform another duty that would take away from the reporter’s ability to focus on reporting the proceeding violates the reporter’s ethical duties.
The Committee on Professional Ethics has determined that a reporter may not act as both the videographer and the verbatim reporter for the same proceeding. The paramount duty of the reporter is to provide an accurate record of the proceeding. To be responsible for handling the many issues related to operating the video equipment that arise in a given proceeding would compromise the ability to accurately report the proceeding. This would result in a violation of Provisions Nos. 3 and 9 of the Code of Professional Ethics that deal with avoiding the fact and appearance of impropriety 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.