The Role of the Court Reporter

| by Heather Duncan, Esq.

By now, we all know that a California court reporter must uphold the strictest standards of professional neutrality and impartiality as outlined in the Business & Professions Code, California Code of Regulations and California Code of Civil Procedure (CCP).  The court reporter is not an agent of any one party, attorney, or deponent, but 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.

Below are a few of the many scenarios we have encountered in the past requiring the reporter to remain neutral, despite the request of an attorney.

Scenario #1

The attorney for one side asks for the backup audio files of the reporter and further requests that opposing counsel not be notified of the request. 

Both the NCRA and the California Court Reporters Board have issued advisory opinions concluding that “there is no ethical obligation for a reporter to provide a copy of the backup audio media to the person requesting the same or even to disclose to those present that a backup audio recording is being made.”

However, if a reporter decides to provide a copy of the backup audio media, the reporter is obligated to remain neutral and impartial under The Code of Professional Ethics, which states that “a Member shall be fair and impartial toward each participant, and always offer to provide comparable services to all parties in a proceeding.”

The same rule applies for other services requested by a party from the reporter, such as the delivery of a rough draft, or expedited transcript.

Scenario #2

The attorney defending the deposition unilaterally insists that the court reporter suspend the deposition.

The court reporter may not suspend the taking of testimony without the stipulation of all parties present unless a party demands that the deposition be stopped to allow the party to move for an immediate protective order under CCP 2025.420.

Scenario #3

Following the deposition, the attorney asks the reporter her opinion on the demeanor and credibility of the opposing counsel.

CCP 2025.320 (c) provides: “The deposition officer. . .shall not provide to any party or any party’s attorney or third party who is financing all or part of the action any service or product consisting of the deposition officer’s notations or comments regarding the demeanor of any witness, attorney, or party present at the deposition.”

All of us at Network Deposition Services wish you happy holidays and a very happy new year!

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