Board Governing the Recording of Judicial Proceedings
Advisory Opinion No. 1997-4
A court reporter, who is an independent contractor working for three or four different reporters or reporting firms, asks whether the Board will consider the inquiring reporter to have violated the rule prohibiting contracting if, unknown to him or her, the firms are violating the rule by engaging in contracting. The inquiring reporter also wants to know if he or she needs to ask the firms to make sure that they are not engaging in contracting. Our answer to both questions is, "it depends."
If the inquiring reporter in good faith does not know the practices of the firms and if the inquiring reporter has no reason to know that the firms are engaging in prohibited contracting, then it is the Board's opinion that the inquiring reporter has not violated the rule prohibiting contracting. Moreover, in this situation, the Board does not believe that the inquiring reporter is under a duty to ask whether the firms are engaging in contracting. If, however, the inquiring reporter knows that the firms are engaging in contracting and the inquiring reporter still agrees to work as an independent contractor for those firms on matters that are subject to contract, then it is the Board's opinion that the inquiring reporter is violating the rule on contracting. If the inquiring reporter has reason to know that the firm is engaging in contracting, but does not actually know this, then the Board's opinion is that the inquiring reporter in this situation should ask the firm.
In short, it is the Board's opinion that court reporters do not need to act as the Board's investigators, but they should not allow themselves to assist in violating the rule by remaining willfully ignorant of what any reasonable person ought to know.