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Court Reporting Shell Game

Plaintiff's Attorneys

There are a number of Rules governing Certified Court Reporters in NJ that you should be aware of.

PRICING:  In NJ, all parties to a particular action are to be charged the same price for like services.  Your client is entitled to the same pricing as the party hiring the court reporting outfit on that particular matter, even if that party has a “contract price” with the reporting service.  Rule 13:43-5.8 (a) reads in part, “Certified Court Reporters shall…(#5) Charge all parties and/or their attorneys in an action the same price for an Original transcript and charge all parties and/or their attorneys the same price for a copy of a transcript or for like services performed in an action.”

CONTRACTING:  Many insurance carriers enter into a “contract” with a court reporting outfit to provide their volume of work in return for a discount on pricing.  In addition to the fact that Rule 13:43-5.8 (a) entitles you to that same pricing on that particular matter, you should be aware that under 13:43-5.4 (Prohibited Practices) a “Certified Court Reporter shall not provide or arrange to provide reporting services, in a judicial or quasi-judicial matter and/or a deposition, if he or she is a ‘relative, agent or employee of one of the parties.’”  

Further, #3 indicates that a Certified Court Reporter shall not “enter into or arrange any contract or financial relationship that compromises the impartiality of the certified court reporter…or that may result in the appearance that the impartiality of the certified court reporter…has been compromised.”

You may or may not have the right to object to a transcript at trial on the grounds that the reporter or the entity who “arranged” for the reporter is a “relative, agent or employee of one of the parties” because of this “contract” and signed their Certificate Page to the contrary, or that that relationship compromises the impartiality or results in the appearance that the impartiality of the reporter has been compromised. 

TRANSCRIPT FORMAT:  There are Transcript Format requirements under 13:43-5.9 that require, among other things, a certain amount of lines per page (25) and characters per line (52).  You should be aware that some transcripts are not being produced according to these guidelines and it may be costing you or your client money.  By shrinking the margins and changing the characters per line from 52 to 39, a transcript could be increased by 25%.  A 100-page deposition can quickly turn into 125 pages if these formats are not followed.  In a bill-by-the-page industry, this is an issue you should take note of.  Thumb through a transcript and seek out the longest line of testimony.  Count the letters and spaces between each word.  It should be 52.  If it is drastically off, you have paid for a bloated transcript.

NON-LICENSED REPORTERS:  More and more agencies are utilizing non-Certified Court Reporters, who may be in violation of 13:43-2.3 “Employment of temporary registered reporters.”  These are reporters who are either students, or have graduated court reporting school but have yet to pass the State-mandated test.   You should ask each reporter if they are certified and note their license number.  There are a number of Rules governing depositions vis-à-vis a non-licensed reporter, including the fact that the non-licensee must inform all parties/counsel beforehand that they are not Certified; reading and signing is NOT waived; the transcript must be reviewed by a Certified Court Reporter; and appropriate paperwork is to be filed with the Board of Court Reporting.  You may or may not have the right to object to the transcript if 13:43-2.3 has not been followed.

For more information on this subject, please read “The Court Reporting Shell Game” and “Fear the Middleman”.

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