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In Texas, Court Reporters Lose a Key Battle in Fight Against 'Non-Stenographic' Recordings

I have been following some interesting tracking developments in Texas affecting court reporters for about a year now. As I noted in June 2011, an article in the Austin Statesman took a look at the subject and wondered if the job of court reporter was starting to resemble a "system of medieval scribes" that might not be long for this world. Earlier in 2011, the Texas Conference of State Court Administrators had issued a report on the state's "inefficient" and "baffling" reliance on human court reporters to create transcripts.

In August 2011, a Texas organization called the Court Reporters Certification Board wrote a letter asking the state attorney general to opine on whether an oral deposition meant for use in litigation in the courts of Texas can be recorded solely by non-stenographic means (e.g., by video camera or an audio recording), or whether doing so would violate Texas Government Code §52.021(f), which requires that an oral deposition be recorded by a certified shorthand reporter.

The Tex Parte blog now reports that the AG has issued a response to the CRCB's question -- and it is not what the court reporters wanted to hear. In the May 14 opinion, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott concludes that "a party to litigation, the attorney of the party, or a full-time employee of a party or a party's attorney may record a deposition solely by non-stenographic means," such as audio or video recordings.

Abbott explained that while Subsection 52.021(f) does generally requires that "all depositions conducted in this state must be recorded by a certified shorthand reporter," an exception to this rule is carved out in section 52.033 for (1) a party to the litigation involved; (2) the attorney of the party; and (3) a full-time employee of a party or a party's attorney. Such individuals may therefore "record a deposition solely by non-stenographic means without violating Government Code section 52.021(f)," he stated.

Posted by Bruce Carton on May 22, 2012 at 04:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (13)


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