Assembly Bill 1197 was signed into California law by Governor Brown on September 28, 2015. It is intended to address so-called "contracting" in the court reporting industry by requiring disclosure of contracts, if any are known, between the party noticing or paying for the deposition and the entity performing the services of the deposition officer.
SUMMARY OF NEW LEGAL REQUIREMENTS
Attorneys, paralegals, legal secretaries and other professionals in the legal industry can find information here.
It is a mystery how the practice of "May we stipulate to relieve the reporter of his/her duties under the Code" began, but it has become customary, at least in the southern part of the state, often resulting in heated discussion should an attorney want to go "per Code." In fact, it has become so prevalent that many attorneys in Southern California believe -- as reporters have actually heard stated in depositions -- that a stipulation must be done before they can close the record. A favorite line was, "We have to do a stipulation, otherwise the reporter will just keep writing." Perhaps it was said in jest, but no one so much as chuckled, and no one challenged the assertion.
Read more from the Deposition Reporters Association to learn about the hazards of the all-too-common practice of stipulating away proper handling of the transcript by the deposition officer.
There's a big difference between the record by a "live" verbatim court reporter, who listens to every word and if there is any difficulty will speak up to clarify, and an "official" electronic recording, according to this from Clerk of the Court, Yakima, Washington.
"The 'Court' Record that my staff have been recording is the word for word record of every word stated during the course of a hearing, or also called the 'Verbatim Report of Proceedings'… The problem is that the FTR (For The Record) electronic recording devices in our courtrooms malfunction at times and the records on appeal for these show 'inaudible' in parts of the appeal record. It is a very important record and all efforts should be made to ensure it is accurate for the public. [Emphasis added.]
"There is currently a proposed change to this rule from the Washington Association of Court Reporters to allow the public to pay for a live Court Reporter, approved by the Court, instead of having their cases electronically recorded. I believe this may be an indication that Court Records in other counties around the state are having similar issues with their electronic recording devices providing complete and accurate records for the public." [Emphasis added.]
Is justice served with "inaudibles" in your "verbatim" record?
Here's a great article published by Jeanne L. Coleman, a lawyer in Tampa, FL, that I wanted to share about why a court reporter should be at every evidentiary hearing. This applies to California as well as Florida.
"Court reporters play a key role in every litigation proceeding. Their purpose is to take down every spoken word at a hearing or trial to ensure that the court and both parties have a clear written record of exactly what transpired. This is very important. Though cost-conscious litigants may balk at paying for a court reporter’s services at every evidentiary hearing, it can be a huge tactical mistake not to have a court reporter present."