Can A Court Reporter Sell a Transcript to Someone Other than the Parties?

Court Reporters who first learn about CrossExam.com often ask whether it is legal for them to sell expert witness transcripts to buyers other than the original parties to the lawsuit.  National Association of Court Reporters Advisory Opinion 9 (“Selling the transcript to third parties/When is a deposition a public record”, Originally written, 1989; Revised, 1997) provides the answer to this question.

“Although rules vary from state to state, in general, a deposition transcript becomes a public document when it is filed with the court and becomes a part of the record in an official proceeding. Under the laws of most states, therefore, a deposition that has not been filed as part of an official proceeding is not a public document.

Provision No. 4 of the Code of Professional Ethics provides that a reporter has an obligation to preserve the confidentiality of information entrusted to the reporter by the parties. It is the Committee’s opinion that the parties have the right to expect that any information entrusted to the reporter will be kept confidential until the parties themselves decide to make the deposition a public document. Unless a deposition transcript has been made a part of the public record, the reporter must obtain the permission of all parties and the deponent (not just the hiring party) before selling or otherwise releasing the transcript to any third party.

Once a deposition transcript has been made a part of the public record, subject to any protective order or state or local rule to the contrary, the reporter may sell the transcript to third parties without the consent of the parties or the deponent.

Conclusion

It is the Committee’s opinion that the selling of deposition transcripts that have not been made part of the public record to other than the litigants and the deponent without the agreement of the litigants and the deponent constitutes a violation of Provision No. 4 of the Code of Professional Ethics.

Once a deposition transcript has been made a part of the public record, subject to any protective order or state or local rule to the contrary, the reporter may sell the transcript to third parties without the consent of the parties or the deponent.”

Summary — Yes, a reporter may sell a transcript to someone other than the parties if (1) the transcript has been been made a public record, or (2) all of the litigants and the deponent consent.

 

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