Court Reporters – California CCP Section 2025.32(c) – What if an attorney asks you to characterize the demeanor of a person at a deposition?

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The job of the court reporter is to take down every word that is said while parties are on the record.  Invariably, at sometime in our careers we are asked by an attorney or percipient person to sign a declaration or write a letter or make a statement about the demeanor of a person, if someone was “yelling” or “making facial gestures” or had mouthed a cuss word.  Since the court reporter is an impartial party, attorneys know the court reporter’s recount of a situation would hold power in court.

BUT – it is not the court reporter’s job to be characterizing actions in a deposition or any legal proceeding.  No reporter should be put in that position.

The California Code of Civil Procedure has a section, 2025.32(c) which reads:

(c)The deposition officer or the entity providing the services of the deposition officer shall not provide to any party or any party’s attorney or third party who is financing all or part of the action any service or product consisting of the deposition officer’s notations or comments regarding the demeanor of any witness, attorney, or party present at the deposition. The deposition officer or entity providing the services of the deposition officer shall not collect any personal identifying information about the witness as a service or product to be provided to any party or third party who is financing all or part of the action.

 The California Professional Standards of Practice, Section 2475(b) reads:

Every person under the jurisdiction of the CR Board who holds a license or certificate, or temporary license or certificate, shall comply with the following professional standards of practice.  6.  Act without bias toward, or prejudice against, any parties and/or their attorneys.

Court reporters are neutral and must maintain their neutrality in all dealings.  Many attorneys do not know these laws or regulations and believe they can ask for a court reporter to sign a declaration regarding what happened at a deposition.  Court reporters instinctively know that they should not be put into that position, and above are citations that you can use to educate the attorney as to why they are not to be done.