Do you know who I wouldn’t want to be right now? A candidate for the President of the United States of America. I mean, it’s hard enough to be a voter in these tumultuous times!
As the election approaches, the chosen candidates face increasing public scrutiny. Their ethical standards are brought into question as accusations of hidden emails, concealed health reports, ethnic and religious biases, and more flood the airwaves on a daily basis. And they aren’t alone. If you read the news these days, you’re bound to find a story on unethical behavior involving politicians and business leaders. No wonder ethics often times seem like a thing of the past!
While most court reporters may not be in the national spotlight, adhering to certain ethical standards is paramount for maintaining a good reputation and, even more importantly, honoring the trust the legal system places in our profession. Here are two important ethical considerations you should expect and in fact, demand from your court reporter:
- Impartiality – Although this may seem like a no-brainer, you may not realize that a court reporter is legally required to remain impartial and neutral. Neutrality comes into play quite often in the course of a reporter’s career, and sometimes it is more obvious than others. But one undeniable and unbendable requirement is: a reporter must provide the same level of service to all parties in a proceeding. For example, when there is even an informal agreement with one side of a case, the reporting firm has an ethical obligation to disclose the details in advance of the deposition and offer any benefits to all parties. In other words, we are required by law to play fair.
- Incentive Gifting – It may be tempting to accept a gift or reward offered for scheduling a future deposition, but this is strictly prohibited by the NCRA. In addition, the Georgia Board of Court Reporting imposes strong restrictions on such practices. To be clear, anytime a reporting firm offers any sort of gift, redeemable points, opportunities to be entered into a drawing, or any other benefit as an incentive to book a future deposition, they are violating our code of ethics. Although it may seem harmless to allow your staff members to be rewarded in this way, incentive gifting is nothing less than a kickback, financed by your client, usually without their knowledge. In addition, depending on the size of the gift, you could find yourself with unintended tax consequences.
We may not be running for President, but court reporters have a responsibility to capture and uphold the record in a courtroom or deposition. Here at Donovan Reporting, we value and embody ethical standards that allow us to do just that.