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Subject: Proposed Revisions to ACJA § 7-206.

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09/13/2013 5:22 PM  
The Arizona Supreme Court, Administrative Office of the Courts is seeking public comment on the attached proposed revisions to the ACJA § 7-206.

The public comment period will remain open until 5 p.m. on Friday, October 11, 2013. Written comments will be considered and the proposed changes will be reviewed by the Board of Certified Reporters and other affected entities. It is anticipated the proposed revisions to the ACJA § 7-206, together with the recommendations from the public comment and ongoing review by the various entities will be presented to the Arizona Judicial Council with the final proposed version of the ACJA § 7-206 to be presented for adoption by the Arizona Supreme Court.

Attachment: proposed ACJA 7-206 Revisions.pdf


09/14/2013 11:09 AM  
I'm very far removed from this situation in such a way that it doesn't impact me at all, but I think that the following should be considered anyway:

By gutting 1g(2), you're creating a situation where the reporter may not have oversight over the billing. This creates a situation where a reporter may, through intermediaries, be placed in the dark. That would put the reporter in conflict with the new 1g(3), because you cannot affirm that the Revised Statues of Arizona or the ACJA have been complied with if you're entitled to relinquish control.

Now, I know that I had other suggestions which I later saw addressed and therefore don't need to write anything about, so if this topic is covered in other revisions and I missed it, that's fair, but otherwise I really believe that asking a reporter to affirm that they know the new 1g(3) is complied with when you remove the "relinquish control" language of the old 1g(2) provides for a gap in the guarantee that the reporter will know if the ACJA or the Revised Statutes of Arizona are being complied with.

Good luck guys.

09/17/2013 10:50 AM  
I would like to understand the motivation for the proposed languange changes. I don't agree with the current language, but at the same time, I think that doing a blanket redaction isn't beneficial either.
I am a true "independent" contractor reporter. I work for many firms, both within state and out of state. The contracting issue is very hot topic to me. I cannot understand how I am held accountable for "contracting" conducted between the firm owner and the hiring entity. I am neutral. It is the CR firms creating these contracts, not the reporter. When I am assigned a job from ANY CR firm, I never get information about who I'm covering for or even what the rates are. Talk about blind faith.
I think that we (independent reporters) need to function as true subcontractors, much like a relationship between a sub and a general contractor in the construction trades. I don't want to ramble on. The current language does need to change, but it needs to be completely thought through. There should be NO contracts between CR firms and parties to the lawsuit, insurance companies, or even governmental entities. There are too many hands in the cookie jar and it's the reporter who suffers.

09/25/2013 2:02 PM  
As President of the Kentucky Court Reporters Association, I would like to express our association’s opposition to the proposed Revisions to ACJA 7-206. This proposed changed will weaken the impartiality of the reporter as being guardians of the record. We believe that the current legislation must be kept intact in its totality.

09/28/2013 1:13 PM  
When our citizens no longer enjoy ethical and unbiased, neutral conduct from those serving the courts, a democratic society shall no longer have a need of the courts.

09/29/2013 5:53 PM  
MWVarney -

When our citizens no longer enjoy ethical and unbiased, neutral conduct from those serving the courts, a democratic society shall no longer have a need of the courts.

10/02/2013 1:07 PM  
The Court should not adopt a policy that gives "sweetheart" treatment to anyone. For that reason, I am opposed to the proposed changes.

These changes offer, in essence, a "sweetheart" deal to private entities seeking to shift control of essential court reporting duties from licensed "officers of the court" to purely private interests who wish to exploit the official court record to further unique business relationships. Allowing this will undermine the administration of even-handed justice and encourage abuses within the court reporting industry that will clearly favor some parties--notably, insurance companies--over others.

This should not be allowed.


Geoffrey M. Trachtenberg
Levenbaum Trachtenberg, PLC
362 North 3rd Avenue
Phoenix, Arizona 85003

10/03/2013 11:48 AM  
The Arizona Association for Justice/Arizona Trial Lawyers Association opposes these proposed revisions. Please the attached letter from our President Elliot Glicksman.

Attachment: AAJ draft-2 (2).docx


10/03/2013 3:02 PM  
It seems that the proposed language changes are written as a result of the Magna lawsuit. The Magna lawsuit alleges violations of the U.S. Constitution, in particular the 5th and 14th Amendments, which protect the due process rights of the American public and ensure everyone the right to a fair and impartial legal system.

Magna in its lawsuit states that they give "preferred pricing and other services" to their clients. They are clearly the ones violating the Due Process Amendments.

The AZ Supreme Court oversees the conduct of both the AZ Certified Reporter and the AZ Licensed Attorneys, and they have written rules that reporters and attorneys must follow in this state. Attorneys from other states that want to practice here, must pass the Bar exam and follow the laws set forth in AZ. Reporters in this state should also follow the rules and laws that govern.

Magna (and the like) should be held to the same standards as AZ Court Reporters.

Article 14, Section 5 of the AZ Constitution: Foreign corporations; transaction of business: "No corporation organized outside of the limits of this state shall be allowed to transact business within this state on more favorable conditions than are prescribed by law for similar corporations organized under the laws of this state."

AZ adopted regulations regarding court reporters to ensure impartiality and fairness, per the U.S. Constitution, 5th and 14th Amendments. Magna is in violation of both the U.S. Constitution and the AZ Constitution.

Please do not give in to big business and insurance companies by changing the rules you have imposed in AZ, because then we will all be violating the 5th and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

10/03/2013 7:32 PM  
I have been informed of proposed changes to ACJA § 7-206, which would negatively affect the integrity and impartiality of the discovery process-through a loss of court reporter oversight of the chain of custody between the reporter and the attorney-as well as affect the equitable application of pricing, invoicing, and production of transcripts to all parties. The proposed changes impact both attorneys' and court reporters' obligations to their clients. The certified court reporter regulations as currently set forth in § 7-206 were adopted in February 2011 to safeguard the public from any lack of integrity and impartiality, unfair billing, exorbitant costs, or inequitable treatment by certified court reporters. The regulations also ensure a certified court reporter will preserve the confidentiality and the security of information entrusted to the reporter by the Court and all parties in the proceedings. As a result, attorneys can, in turn, uphold their ethical obligations to maintain the confidentiality and secrecy of their clients' information. These important ideals, for court reporters and attorneys alike, are threatened by the proposed changes to § 7-206.

In the past I had significant of difficulty dealing with an out-of-state national court reporting firm, Esquire Solutions, which charged significantly higher rates than local court reporting firms, and who was nonresponsive in trying to deal with these billing issues.

The proposed revisions would allow court reporters to:

1) relinquish control over transcripts and exhibits to a third party agent of one of the parties;
2) relinquish control over billing and invoicing records to a third party agent;
3) offer to non-client parties, but not ensure, the same financial terms, services, and economic or other advantages received by their clients; and
4) report in any proceeding at a rate compelled by, and following the procedures compelled by, the third party agent of one of the parties.

These proposed changes create the appearance of impropriety, threaten the equitable treatment of all parties, and could compromise the requirement to maintain the confidentiality of the record. They also undermine the purpose of certifying court reporters-to hold them accountable to and within the Arizona judicial system, as well as to the public.

Esquire Solutions, and other national reporting companies, are not licensed in Arizona and have no accountability to the Arizona judicial system or to the confidentiality and equitable treatment of our clients. Moreover, attorneys have ethical obligations to prevent disclosure of confidential and protected information to nonparties of a proceeding, and to prevent confidential information from being archived by a third party. Thus, knowingly allowing transcripts and exhibits to be transmitted or otherwise produced to a third party without a client's consent may violate ER 1.6.

The current rules have not been a problem, and it appears that the motivation behind the proposed rules is to allow insurance companies and large national law firms to enter into exclusive contracts with national court reporting firms at the expense of individuals, smaller law firms and Arizona court reporting firms. Quite simply appears to be a solution to a nonexistent problem. I strongly oppose the proposed changes.

10/04/2013 11:16 AM  
The integrity of our reporters is crucial to the integrity of our system of justice. To maintain the integrity, our reporters should be independent, objective and not favor either side. The current version makes that all too clear. The proposed changes are shocking when they just try to delete the need for impartiality and fairness to both sides. Wouldn't both sides then need to bring their own reporters to ensure they get treated fairly? The current system works great and does not need this change and the serious problems it would create.

10/04/2013 11:18 AM  
Here is AAJ letter in pdf format.

Attachment: AAJ-Final.pdf


10/04/2013 11:19 AM  
Here is AAJ letter in pdf for those that can't open Microsoft Word

Attachment: AAJ-Final.pdf


10/04/2013 11:22 AM  
The present system works and is fair to all parties. I have never questioned a court reporters integrity. Why would we want to make a change that could call into question a court reports independence and integrity? This type of change makes no sense! It’s critical that court reports remain independent and not have special relationships with one party or the other. To allow special interests into this process would only undermine the public and lawyer’s faith and confidence in the judicial system as opposed to making it any better.
Cole Sorenson

10/04/2013 11:28 AM  
The integrity of the court system rests, in large part, on the accuracy and integrity of the official record of all proceedings. Court reporters currently have earned the respect they receive. Rarely, if ever, does the bias of a court reporter get raise by any party.

Proposed revisions to ACJA 7-206 will change that. By allowing the appearance of court reporter loyalty and financial incentives to show loyalty to one party over another, these rules will have long-term negative consequences on the legal system in general, and court reporters in particular.

These proposed changes should be rejected.

10/04/2013 12:07 PM  
The Court should not make policy that gives special treatment to anyone let alone officers of the Court who must be neutral. Giving power to business entities is not only dangerous it's also needless. I'm unclear why this proposed changed in needed.

The proposed changes clearly benefits insurance companies who can utilize their endless resources to control the reporting industry and obtain sub-market rates while those without such size and resources will pay a higher rates.

I am opposed to the proposed changes.

Respectfully submitted,

Craigg M. Voightmann
The Voightmann Law Firm PC
16700 N. Thompson Peak Pkwy., Suite 110
Scottsdale, Arizona 85260

10/04/2013 12:25 PM  
This proposed change is set to benefit only large businesses such as insurance companies and large defense firms to the detriment of the unbiased judicial process in Arizona. This change would promote the use of large companies and their bias towards insurance companies, large corporations, and law firms to control the record in the case.

The purpose of the american judicial system is to put everybody on equal footing with equal access to the courts. Allowing these large court reporting companies to provide discounted rates to insurance companies, large corporations, and large law firms will undermine that purpose. It will take away the unbiased nature of the court reporter and make the record suspect, since it will be put into the hands of a 3rd party for processing. The same 3rd party that will benefit from contracts with only one side of the v., the defense side. It will not give equal opportunities to plaintiffs even though it claims it will have that ability.

The purpose of ACJA § 7-206 is to protect the public in its interactions with the court reporting community. The proposed revisions will complete undermine that end goal.

The proposed revisions should be denied.

Ryan Skiver
Warnock MacKinlay & Carman, PLLC

10/04/2013 12:28 PM  
This revision should not be adopted by the court. It proposes "sweetheart" deals that will be ripe for abuse by parties, notably large insurance companies, where one party would be required to pay one amount for a court reporter while the other party would have to pay a different amount. Let's not fix what isn't broken.

10/04/2013 1:01 PM  
I strongly oppose this revision. Court reporters must be impartial. Offering special pricing for the benefit of one side creates not only the appearance of a special relationship, but the actuality of unequal treatment. Such a deal favors the repeat player and creates an unfair litigation advantage, since it selectively reduces the cost of litigation for one side. It is also likely that this type of discount will result in cost shifting -- since court reporters are unlikely to want to reduce their overall compensation, the reduced cost to one side will be absorbed by the other, leading to a greater imbalance.

10/04/2013 2:01 PM  
I am opposed to these revisions. Our court systems are supposed to be built on impartiality. These revisions I believe would cause an influx of one-sided bullying of witnesses and parties, and would shift the cost burden of paying court reporters onto the people who more likely than not can afford it the least.

Kindra Deneau
The Deneau Law Firm, PLLC
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