Have you recently shown up to a depo and realized the “court reporter” didn’t have a stenography machine? You might have thought, “Wow, the court reporter doesn’t need one of those little machines anymore.”
The hard truth is you have just been part of a bait-and-switch scheme that may cost you your case.
Currently, there is a practice happening where unlicensed court reporting agencies, who claim they can’t find a licensed stenographic court reporter, are sending in a notary public to digitally record the deposition and have it transcribed later.
The Court Reporter Standard Certification Program (CR) provides statewide certification for persons in Arizona who are qualified to be certified. Code Section 7-206 governs court reporter standard certification and applies to any person who records and transcribes a verbatim record in any sworn proceeding by means of written symbols or abbreviations in shorthand or machine writing in Arizona pursuant to Arizona Revised Statutes Title 32, Chapter 40.
Who is actually preparing the transcript if a Certified Shorthand Reporter didn’t show up? Protecting your court reporting record.
These unlicensed agencies oftentimes send the digital recording to multiple transcribers who sometimes are located outside the United States. The person showing up calling themselves a “court reporter” is not the one who transcribes the depo. If your Arizona deposition transcript is not prepared by an Arizona Certified Shorthand Reporter, your deposition might not be admitted into evidence.
This deception is happening nationwide. In a recent case in San Mateo County, In Re: McIntosh, Case Number SC023606A, Honorable Judge Scott upheld the Code of Civil Procedure and denied the admission of a digitally recorded deposition not prepared by a Certified Shorthand Reporter.
“…[W]ith regard to the deposition of Mr. Dirickson, that it was taken pursuant to the Code of Civil Procedure 2025.340 for audio and video recording but was not stenographically transcribed pursuant to CCP 2025.340(m). It was simply given to a — even though Mr. Dirickson was sworn in by a licensed notary, Cindy Cobb is simply a transcriber, not a stenographic transcriber as required by law.
Meaning, a certified shorthand reporter. So, the deposition of Mr. Dirickson would be inadmissible for — inadmissible on those grounds.”
“…[I] understand, Your Honor. But we ordered a court reporter, and that’s who came. I don’t know the technical difference between a transcriber and a court reporter.”
Unfortunately, this attorney, who had ordered a court reporter, was not sent a court reporter. This is where you need to be diligent, protect your court reporting record, and be aware of what is happening in the court reporting industry by these companies who are trying to make you think you are hiring a court reporter. Do not rely on the court reporting agency to send what you have asked for.
To make sure this doesn’t happen to you:
- Make sure your notice states “before an Arizona Certified Shorthand Reporter” and not “and/or a digital recorder, and/or a person authorized to administer an oath.”
- When scheduling, make sure to specify you are ordering a Certified Shorthand Reporter.
- If you are not the noticing attorney, make sure you check that the notice says “before an Arizona Certified Shorthand Reporter” and not “and/or a digital recorder, and/or a person authorized to administer an oath.”
- Verify that the person calling themselves a court reporter is actually an Arizona Certified Shorthand Reporter. Always ask for their license number.
Remember, you have a right to object to the deposition officer’s qualifications.
Lastly, Arizona Certified Shorthand Reporters (commonly called “court reporters”) are licensed by the State of Arizona and have a board that was established to protect the consumer, YOU. The court reporters boards throughout the country claim they do not have jurisdiction over these companies, who are unauthorized to provide professional court reporting services according to current Arizona law. If you have a problem with your transcript or deposition officer who is not an Arizona Certified Shorthand Reporter, you will have no recourse.
If you have been subjected to this practice, please consider filing a complaint with the Court Reporters Board of Arizona.