Neutrality and The Attorney's Duty

| by Heather Duncan, Esq.

The following is a quick review on the court reporter’s duty to remain neutral and impartial and the attorney’s duty to protect the attorney work product.

We all know that the California Business & Professions Code, California Code of Civil Procedure, and California Code of Regulations all require California court reporters to uphold the strictest standards of professional neutrality and impartiality.

Under the California Code of Regulation Section 2475 (c), California Court Reporters must always “act without bias toward, or prejudice against any parties and/or their attorneys and may not do anything that would compromise their impartiality.”

What you may not know is that attorneys are also bound by ethical standards that prohibit them from discussing their personal observations or allowing their clients to share their observations about the witness, opposing counsel or theory of the case with the court reporter.  

There is no attorney-court reporter privilege. An opposing counsel who overhears or otherwise learns of a conversation between an attorney and the court reporter may argue that those comments are discoverable and may be used against the disclosing counsel’s client.  They may also argue that the comments constitute a waiver of the work-product doctrine.  Any comments made by a witness or attorney to a court reporter are, of course, discoverable.  

Although neutrality is a concept that we all understand, we need to remain mindful of our respective responsibilities even when we are in the midst of a heated or impassioned deposition.

Happy holidays from your friends at Network Deposition Services!  

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