Board Governing the Recording of Judicial Proceedings
Advisory Opinion No. 1997-1
Worknet Reporting, Inc. [not its real name] is an out-of-state corporation that has as clients various corporations and insurance companies, both of which are engaged in substantial litigation throughout the country. Worknet provides discount reporting services to its clients by contracting with member court reporters in the states in which the clients are litigating. The contracts provide that member court reporters shall pay certain fees pursuant to a fee schedule for all work that Worknet provides the member. The members are also required to adhere to certain pricing structures and client requirements insofar as billing is concerned. These agreements are entered into without reference to any particular case. The reporter asks whether becoming a member of Worknet would violate Rule 22-605(K), NMRA 1996.
The answer is yes. Rule 22-605(K) prohibits contracting to provide reporting services in actions not yet pending. Once a reporter becomes a member of Worknet and agrees to provide reporting services to Worknet's clients under fee schedules and requirements that extend into the future, that reporter is violating New Mexico's rule on contracting.
Indeed, one client of a service such as Worknet has notified counsel representing it that use of [Worknet] services does not apply to matters venued in or proceeding in Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana or Utah. Counsel in those states are expected to select a court reporting service that will consistently provide quality service at competitive rates. The obvious reason for this notification is that Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, and Utah all have rules or statutes that prohibit contracting. With the adoption of Rule 22-605(K), New Mexico has joined these states and also prohibits contracting.