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New Jersey Supreme Court issues rule to protect court reporter’s audio file

The Certified Court Reporters Association – New Jersey (CCRA-NJ) announced that the New Jersey Supreme Court Rules Committee created a new court rule to protect the reporter’s audio file.

Although New Jersey already had a rule in place that affirmed a transcript taken by a New Jersey Certified Court Reporter as the official record, the new rule goes further in protecting the court reporter’s audio file as a “work product.” This also means that litigants and their attorneys may not demand or request an audio file without obtaining a court order.

“By October 2013, I’d heard enough of reporter’s stories to make the announcement that I was going to petition the NJ Supreme Court Civil Practice Committee to create a rule to protect the reporter’s audio file as their work product, and not be available to litigants or their attorneys without a court order to show cause,” Rick Paone, the state association’s legislative chairman, said about how he decided to take up the issue. “The issue hit home several years ago when a litigant accused my reporter of leaving something out. His attorney told me the client was a troubled person and knew the supposed testimony had never occurred but asked that we furnish it to satisfy his client. I refused to have the reporter turn it over, and the litigant fired his attorney and filed charges against my reporter with the State Board for ‘fraud and deception.’ The matter was investigated and dismissed, but it became of paramount importance to get language in place to protect reporters from litigants and their counsel attempting to use their work product audio against them.”

Paone also emphasized that it was a long process, but one well worth the time. In addition to spending months researching the issue, he worked with the attorney for CCRA-NJ to draft a petition to the Civil Practice Committee. It took a year until the rule received a recommendation from the committee, at which time it was sent to the New Jersey Supreme Court for public comment. The rule was put into effect Sept. 1.

The text of the new rule is available courtesy of the Certified Court Reporters Association – New Jersey.