Reporters are Impartial Officers of the Court

| by Heather Duncan, Esq.

By now, most of us understand that during a deposition the court reporter is an impartial officer of the court entrusted with taking down a verbatim record of what is said. What may not be as clear is that the reporter’s duty of neutrality extends well beyond the time on the record.

The California Business & Professions Code, California Code of Regulations and California Code of Civil Procedure all hold California court reporters to the highest standards of professional neutrality and impartiality, both on and off the record.

The subsections of California Code of Civil Procedure 2025.320 outline some of the reporter’s duties of neutrality as follows:

  • The court reporter may not be financially interested in the action and may not be a relative or employee of any of the parties or their attorneys

  • Any services offered by the court reporter to one attorney or party must be offered to all parties and must be made available at the same time

  • The court reporter may not provide to any party, attorney for a party or third party who is financing all or part of the action (such as an insurance company) “notations or comments regarding the demeanor of any witness, attorney, or party present at the deposition”

  • The reporter may not collect any personal identifying information about the witness to be provided to any party or attorney

Asking a reporter to give an opinion regarding another attorney, party, witness, the case, or even case strategy risks compromising the reporter’s neutrality, as does knowingly placing the reporter in the position of being a factual witness at the direction of counsel for one party. Additionally, the reporter may not provide a copy of the transcript, exhibits, or audio for review prior to making it available to all.

Court reporters have the sacred role of being “keepers of the record.” Their duties of neutrality and impartiality help ensure the integrity of our legal system.

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