| by Heather Duncan, Esq.
During a deposition the court reporter is a neutral and impartial Officer of the Court, entrusted with the job of creating a record of every word spoken when the parties are on the record. The court reporter is not an agent of any one party or witness.
California court reporters must always: “Act without bias toward, or prejudice against, any parties or their attorneys and may not do anything that would compromise their impartiality.” (California Professional Standards of Practice, Section 2475(b)).
Court reporters are neutral and must maintain their neutrality in all of their dealings. Unfortunately, the concepts of neutrality and impartiality can be easily lost in the midst of a heated or impassioned deposition. Occasionally, a contentious deposition results in a party or attorney acting in an unprofessional manner that involves yelling, profanity, or threatening behavior. An attorney may want to have the reporter write a letter, sign a declaration, or provide testimony as to the events that transpired. It is not the job of the court reporter to render any subjective assessment of the witness, attorneys or case. The court reporter is strictly prohibited from providing “notations or comments regarding the demeanor of any witness, attorney, or party present at the deposition.” (California Code of Civil Procedure Section 2025.320).
Similarly, the court reporter should never be relied on to give an opinion on a witness or case or be included in any attorney-client discussions. There is no attorney-reporter privilege. Any discussions with a witness should be held outside of the presence of the reporter to maintain the attorney-client privilege.
Finally, it is not the job of the court reporter to ask about reading and signing the deposition transcript, or provide the attorneys with suggestions for a stipulation as to the handling of the deposition transcript. The court reporter’s job is to act as the officer of the court provide a clear and accurate record of what was said at the deposition.