Illinois Court Reporters Association
Code of Professional Ethics
Adopted February 8, 1997
This Code of Professional Ethics is incorporated by reference in the Bylaws as Article XI. It includes the Guidelines for Professional Practice, Sections I, II, III, and IV. Section I covers the guidelines for the reporter making the official record; Section II covers the guidelines for the realtime reporter in legal and non-legal proceedings; Section III covers the guidelines for the realtime educational reporter; and Section IV covers guidelines on providing uncertified rough draft transcripts. In addition, the Code now includes Complaint Procedures.
CODE OF PROFESSIONAL ETHICS
A Member Shall:
1. Be fair and impartial toward each participant in all aspects of reported proceedings and always offer to provide comparable services to all parties in a proceeding.
2. Be alert to situations that are conflicts of interest or that may give the appearance of a conflict of interest. If a conflict or a potential conflict arises, the Member shall disclose that conflict or potential conflict.
3. Guard against not only impropriety, but the appearance of impropriety.
4. Preserve the confidentiality and ensure the security of information, oral or written, entrusted to the Member by any of the parties in a proceeding.
5. Be truthful and accurate when making public statements or when advertising the Member’s qualifications or the services provided.
6. Refrain, as an official reporter, from freelance reporting activities that interfere with official duties and obligations.
7. Determine fees independently, except when established by statute or court order, entering into no unlawful agreements with other reporters on the fees to any user.
8. Refrain from giving, directly or indirectly, any gift or anything of value to attorneys or their staff, other clients or their staff, or any persons or entities associated with any litigation, which exceeds $100 in the aggregate per recipient each year. Nothing offered in exchange for future work is permissible, regardless of its value. Pro bono services as defined by NCRA's Guidelines for Professional Practice or by applicable state and local laws, rules and regulations are permissible in any amount.
9. Maintain the integrity of the reporting profession.
10. Abide by the ILCRA Bylaws.
GUIDELINES FOR PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE
Common sense and professional courtesy should guide the Member in applying the following Guidelines.
In making the official record, a Member should:
A. Accept only those assignments when the Member’s level of competence will result in the preparation of an accurate transcript. The Member should remove himself from an assignment when the Member believes the Member’s abilities are inadequate, recommending or assigning another reporter only if such reporter has the competence required for such assignment.
B. Prepare the record in accordance with the transcript-preparation guidelines established by statute or court order, by local custom and usage, or when not so established in accordance with the NCRA’s recommended Transcript format guidelines.
C. Notify whenever possible, the parties engaging the Member if a substitute reporter, equally qualified, will be assigned to report the proceedings.
D. Preserve the shorthand notes in accordance with statute or court order, for a period of no less than five (5) years through storage of the original paper notes or an electronic copy of either the shorthand notes or the English transcript of the notes on computer disks, cassettes, backup tape systems, or optical or laser disk systems.
E. Meet promised delivery dates whenever possible, make timely delivery of transcripts when no date is specified, and provide immediate notification of delays.
F. Strive to become and remain proficient in the Member’s professional skills.
G. Keep abreast of current literature, technological advances and developments, and participate in continuing-education programs.
H. Assist in improving the reporting profession by participating in national, state, and local association activities that advance the quality and standards of the reporting profession.
I. Cooperate with the bench and bar for the improvement of the administration of justice.
J. Cooperate with qualified legal assistance organizations providing free legal services to the indigent, as part of the shorthand reporting profession’s commitment to the principle that reporting services should be available to all. Such participation should be in accordance with the basic tenets of the profession: impartiality, competence, and integrity.
Realtime Reporter as Assistive Technology in Legal and Non-Legal Proceeding
A realtime reporter in this setting is a court reporter using realtime skills an equipment to provide on-screen translation. Understanding of the realtime reporter’s role is necessary among all parties to the proceeding.
Common sense and professional courtesy should guide the Member in applying the following Guidelines. A Member acting as a realtime reporter with assistive technology should:
A. In legal proceedings, establish before beginning realtime reporting a clear understanding of who has hired the reporter, what is to be reported, and whether the realtime is to be used as assistive technology or if a verbatim record is required in addition to the assistance being provided.
B. In legal proceedings, establish before beginning realtime reporting a clear understanding with all parties as to who owns the residual computer note file and who, if anyone, has access to sell and/or distribute the same and to whom, if anyone. Each situation will be unique.
C. Keep all assignment-related information strictly confidential.
D. If realtime is used as assistive technology and a verbatim record is not required, render as near a verbatim translation as possible, always conveying the content and spirit of the speaker, using substitute language which is computer-translatable when necessary to be understood by the person being served. Use parentheticals to describe sounds, laughter, anything that detracts attention from the proceedings to explain to the nonhearing participant what is going on.
E. Not counsel, advise, or interject personal opinions.
F. Accept assignments using discretion with regard to skill, setting, and the consumers involved, and shall accurately represent their qualifications for realtime reporting.
G. Know the software and hardware system used and be able to do simple troubleshooting.
H. Strive to further their knowledge and skill through participation in workshops, professional meetings, interaction with professional colleagues and reading of current literature in the field, and to achieve realtime certification on a state or national level.
I. Save hard copy or disk of actual translation as it was seen on screen before editing the file in any way. Job defines can be added as the day goes on so long as they don’t alter what was seen on screen earlier. In legal proceedings, the actual record as seen by the deaf party or juror should be saved.
J. Be aware that special questions are raised when realtime reporting for a deaf juror, and some understanding needs to be reached by all parties before translation begins.
Realtime Educational Reporter
The Realtime Education Reporter will be assigned to one or more students for a particular class or classes for the term of each class. This reporter will accompany the student(s) to each class. Through the use of realtime translation, the reporter will write the teacher’s spoken words; the text of this lecture will display on a computer monitor or other display device in English for the deaf or hard-of-hearing student(s) to read. At the conclusion of each class, the reporter will provide the student(s) with a copy of the lecture text from the realtime translation either in the format of an unedited ASCII file on a diskette or a printed copy of the edited text.
The Realtime Educational Reporter should:
A. Work with the instructor for each assigned class to assure that all the technical terminology for that particular class will be provided in advance so that it can be entered into the reporter’s computer dictionary. This will help the reporter maintain a high translation rate, which is advantageous for both the reporter and the student(s).
B. Keep all assignments strictly confidential.
C. Not participate in class discussion or provide any advice to the student whom the reporter is assisting. The reporter is there only to facilitate communication between the student, the instructor, and the student’s classmates. The reporter will "Realtime" lectures and classroom activities including orally presented assignments.
D. Arrange equipment so that the student being assisted is able to watch the reporter’s computer screen and the speaker at the same time. The translation and text display are usually one to four seconds behind the speaker, and for this reason it may take the student a few seconds longer to respond. If at all possible, the instructor must limit the class discussion to one person speaking at a time.
E. Follow the intent of the speaker at all times. The reporter shall render as near a verbatim translation as possible, always conveying the content and spirit of the speaker. If a new term is introduced that will not translate properly, the reporter may use substitute language that is computer-translatable when necessary to be understood by the student.
F. Reflect in the text on the reporter’s screen everything going on in the environment including environmental sounds and speaker identifiers.
G. Inform the student(s) being assisted that the student is responsible for recording all nonspoken information, such as material presented on the chalkboard.
H. Accept assignments using discretion with regard to skill, setting, and the consumers involved, and accurately represent his or her credentials for realtime reporting.
I. Work with instructors and all students in each class to secure cooperation.
J. Have a backup reporter to take over the class in case of illness.
Guidelines on Providing Uncertified Rough Draft Transcripts
The Illinois Court Reporters Association and the National Court Reporters Association realize that in some cases, court reporters are providing uncertified rough draft transcripts, in either paper or ASCII form, to parties involved in litigation either in the courtroom or deposition setting. The Illinois Court Reporters Association and the National Court Reporters Association suggest the following guidelines be used when providing such services. These guidelines are intended to aid a court reporter when providing uncertified rough draft transcripts. Generally speaking, uncertified rough draft transcripts are provided by court reporters who use realtime translation, but other court reporters are also providing uncertified rough draft transcripts as well. These are not mandates, but rather guidelines by which a court reporter may determine the propriety of his or her conduct in relation to the litigants, their counsel, the court, allied professions and the public.
The principal objective when a court reporter provides an uncertified rough draft transcript of proceedings is to aid in the administration of justice by rendering a valuable service to the litigants, their counsel, and the court.
A. A court reporter providing an uncertified rough draft transcript should perform the task ‘ undertaken by him or her in a professional manner.
B. A court reporter providing an uncertified rough draft transcript should keep informed of technological and other advances and improvements in the skills and methods of his or her profession and strive constantly for self-improvement.
C. A court reporter providing an uncertified rough draft transcript should not perform any service under terms or conditions which will compromise in any way, his or her impartiality or the exercise of good judgment and skill, or which will adversely affect the fair and impartial portrayal of the proceeding. Court reporters should offer comparable services to all parties in a litigation proceeding.
D. An uncertified rough draft transcript should not include a title page, appearance page, certificate page, any mention of the swearing in of a witness (in depositions), footer with firm name or reporter name or CSR#, index page, line numbers starting with 1 for each page, borders around the text on each page, or time stamping.
E. An uncertified rough draft transcript should include a header or footer on each page stating "Computer uncertified rough draft transcript only." A brief disclaimer such as "uncertified rough draft transcript" should be included in the body of the text occasionally. An uncertified rough draft transcript provided on paper should be printed on colored paper, with the words ""uncertified rough draft transcript" hand stamped on each page. If provided on diskette, the diskette label should be similarly hand stamped, and the label should be a different color than those used on diskettes containing the text of certified transcripts. Uncertified rough draft transcripts should be provided in condensed format only. Page numbers may be included, but line numbers should be absolute, not starting with 1 for each page.
F. A disclaimer and/or order form should be transmitted as a cover sheet or cover sheets with each uncertified rough draft transcript stating that the uncertified rough draft transcript cannot be quoted in any pleading or for any other purpose and may not be filed with any court. A copy of the disclaimer and/or order form should be retained by the court reporter.
G. Where possible, all untranslated steno strokes and conflicts should be resolved before an uncertified rough draft transcript is provided to any party. An unedited transcript should not be provided without resolving untranslated steno strokes and conflicts if the untranslated rate is 1.0% or higher.
H. Only court reporters who possess the capability of providing a substantially readable transcript should attempt to provide an uncertified rough draft transcript.
I. Minimum writing skills: conflict-free writing (software with automatic conflict resolution is recommended); untranslates of one percent or less; standard punctuation included; and speaker identification defined.
These are suggested guidelines. If your current writing skills do not meet these guidelines, don’t let it stop you. Remember, you have a chance during breaks or on-the-fly to define untranslates and resolve conflicts. It is recommended that you not supply counsel with a rough draft ASCII disk or printed transcript until these minimum standards are met. However, you may be able to provide the disk or uncertified transcript to them later that day or the next day.
The following procedures shall be followed in instituting and resolving complaints that any Member of the Association has violated the Code of Professional Ethics (CODE) and/or Bylaws of the Association.
A. Filing and Investigation of Complaints
1. Any person may file a complaint against a Member of the Association. All complaints must be in writing, signed by the person making the complaint, and addressed to the Executive Director of the Association. All complaints must contain the name and address of the Member complained against, a description of the conduct complained of, and references to the specific provisions of the Code and/or Bylaws involved in the complaint. All complaints must be accompanied by a written verified affidavit whereby the complainant affirms that the facts stated in the complaint are true and accurate to the best of the complainant’s knowledge and belief. The verified affidavit also must contain the complainant’s authorization of the Association to disclose the contents of the complaint to the Member complained against, the member of the Ethics Committee, and Association officers.
2. The Executive Director shall promptly acknowledge receipt of all complaints and shall provide a copy of these complaint procedures to the person making the complaint. If the complaint does not contain all the required information, the Executive Director shall advise the person making the complaint that further information must be provided before any further action can be taken, and shall specify what further information is required. No action shall be taken until all required information has been provided.
3. The Executive Director shall forward a copy of the complaint to the Member complained against, along with a copy of these complaint procedures, and a copy of the Code of Professional Ethics and request that the Member respond to the complaint in writing within thirty (30) days.
4. In the event that any circumstances may come to the attention of the President that involve a potential violation of the Code and/or Bylaws, the President may appoint the most recent past Chairman of the Ethics Committee, who is willing and able to serve, to investigate and, if appropriate, file a complaint. The Executive Director shall treat any such complaint in accordance with the same procedures as if filed by any other person.
B. Proceedings by the Ethics Committee
1. When the thirty-day (30) period has elapsed, the Executive Director shall forward the complaint, and the response, if any, to the Ethics Committee. The Ethics Committee may reach its decision based on the complaint and the response, if any, or may ask the Executive Director to obtain additional information. The Committee may also grant an opportunity for the person making the complaint and the Member complained of to be heard either in person, through legal counsel, or in a format agreed to by all parties. If the Committee determines there are disputed issues of fact that are material to its decision, it shall grant either party an opportunity to present relevant information, including documents and witnesses, and an opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses called by the other party. The committee shall be the judge of the relevance and materiality of any information offered, and conformity to legal rules of evidence shall not be necessary.
2. The Committee shall thereafter prepare a written decision containing its findings of fact and conclusions. It may issue a cautionary letter, warning or statement of advice to the Member. Alternatively, the Committee may recommend to the Executive Board that the Member be expelled or suspended (up to one (1) year) from the Association, or may order that the Member be reprimanded. No expulsion or suspension shall become effective unless sustained by the Executive Board in accordance with the Bylaws (which requires a two-thirds (2/3) vote of the Executive Board.)
3. The Committee shall render its decision based on the complaint and the response, if any, or schedule a hearing date, within ninety (90) days after the case is initially received from the Executive Director. If a hearing is scheduled, the Committee shall render its decision within sixty (60) days after the hearing is completed.
1. The Executive Director shall promptly send a copy of the decision of the Ethics Committee to the person making the complaint and the Member complained against, and advise them that the Committee’s decision will become final (except for recommendations regarding expulsion or suspension) unless either party appeals to the Executive Board within thirty (30) days, in writing, specifying the grounds upon which the party contends the Committee’s decision is erroneous and should be revised.
2. If no appeal is taken within the thirty-day (30) period from a decision by the Ethics Committee, the Executive Director shall forward to the Executive Board the record before the Committee and the Committee's decision. In such cases, the Board shall decide on the record before the Committee whether to sustain the Committee's recommendation.
3. Upon receipt of an appeal within the thirty-day (30) period, the Executive Director shall forward it to the other parties to the proceeding. Any other party to the proceeding may respond to the appeal within ten (10) days of receipt. When the ten-day (10) period has elapsed, the Executive Director shall forward to the Executive Board the appeal, any response, and all other papers relating to the matter. The Board may decide the appeal on the basis of these papers, or may grant a request for oral argument made by any party, in person or through their attorney. The Board may affirm, reverse, or modify the decision of the Ethics Committee provided, however, that no greater sanction can be imposed than that recommended by the Ethics Committee.
D. Costs and Expenses
Each party shall bear his or her own costs and expenses with respect to any proceeding.
E. Final Actions
At the Executive Board’s discretion, a final action may be published in the Ad Infinitum for the edification of the Membership provided that all identifying information about the Member complained against and the complaining party is deleted.