Recently, the Arizona Supreme Court approved amendments to Arizona’s court reporting laws. These amendments to the Arizona Code of Judicial Administration (“ACJA”), section 7-206, became effective September 15, 2014. The changes strive to ensure fair treatment of all parties in an action, including equal billing to all parties, preserving the confidentiality of the record, and preserving the ethical obligations of court reporters and attorneys. Arizona’s new court reporting rules include the following notable changes:
Rate Disclosures: Reporters and reporting firms must now provide itemized rate disclosures prior to the commencement of a deposition. ACJA § 7-206(J)(3)(b).
Registered Reporting Firms: As defined in the revisions, individuals and entities providing reporting services in Arizona, must be registered with the Arizona Supreme Court, whether they are a local or out of state service. Just like Certified Reporters, Registered Reporting Firms must comply with all provisions of ACJA Section 7‑206 and submit to the authority of the Arizona Supreme Court. ACJA § 7-206(A) and (N).
Written Notice of Contractual Relationship: Reporters and reporting firms in “a continuing contractual relationship to provide reporting services in multiple cases with a party, attorney, or entity with a financial interest in the case” must give written notice of that relationship to the lawyers and any unrepresented party. The notice of contract must be made by the reporter and/or firm upon retention of their services, must contain the duration of the contractual relationship and indicate whether it is exclusive. The attorney or any unrepresented party has the opportunity to object in writing within five days of receipt of the notice of contract. If an attorney or any other relevant party objects, neither that reporter nor that firm can cover the deposition. If no one objects, then that reporter and/or firm is deemed approved. ACJA § 7-206(J)(1)(l).
Fair and Equal Billing: Reporters and reporting firms must charge all parties the same price for the same product or service. The obligation to charge each party equally includes, but is not limited to, an initial transcript copy and any offered complementary services, volume discounts, rebates, waivers, or fee reductions. ACJA § 7-206(J)(3)(a).
Certified Invoices: Each invoice from a reporter or reporting firm must include a certification that the invoice and other business terms comply with the ethical obligations set forth in ACJA 7-206, such as fairly and equally billing all parties. ACJA § 7-206(F)(3) and (J)(1)(g)(3).
Limited Release: To enhance and ensure security, confidentiality and privacy, reporters and/or reporting firms may release (sell) transcripts only to witnesses, parties, and their attorneys, unless authorized otherwise by court order or agreement of the parties. ACJA § 7-206(J)(2)(a).
Retaining Court Reporting Services: Only the attorney, a party, or a registered reporting firm can retain court reporting services in Arizona cases. Arizona Certified Reporters and Registered Reporting Firms are prohibited from accepting assignments from any other individual or entity. ACJA § 7-206(J)(1)(h)(5).
Requests for Final Billings: If an attorney wants to review all parties’ invoices, the attorney must make that request of the Certified Reporter. Upon the attorney’s request, the Certified Reporter must provide copies of all parties’ invoices. ACJA § 7-206(J)(3)(c).
Prohibited Litigation Support Services: Attorneys and their clients can no longer receive from Arizona reporters, reporting firms, or their affiliates “additional advocacy or litigation support services, including but not limited to claim investigation assistance, trial preparation assistance, and deposition summaries.” ACJA § 7-206(J)(1)(k).
Waiver of 7-206 Not Permitted: “Except as expressly set forth, the provisions of 7‑206 may not be waived by disclosure, agreement, stipulation or otherwise.” This means that attorneys cannot waive the Arizona Certified Reporters’ and Registered Reporting Firms’ duties and obligations under this section. ACJA § 7-206(J)(1)(j).
Some freelance court reporters believe that the transparency requirements increase professionalism and promote integrity. Attorneys and their clients will likely appreciate greater certainty that they will be billed fairly. In the past, there were complaints that some reporting firms would charge higher rates to the party who did not hire the reporter. These revised rules prevent that from occurring. Additionally, the rules requiring limited release of transcripts to parties, witnesses and their attorneys help attorneys to safeguard confidential and protected client information.
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Key Words: court reporting, changes to Arizona court reporting rules, Arizona Code of Judicial Administration
Title: Changes to Arizona Rules Governing Court Reporting Affect Attorneys
Description: A summary of the recent noteworthy changes to Arizona’s court reporting rules.