Striving for excellence since 1996
The Deposition Reporters Association of California was formed in 1996 at a time when there was a single state association representing the interests of both official and deposition reporters. At that time, many freelance reporters felt that having a separate association dedicated strictly to protecting the interests of deposition reporters would eliminate having to choose how to allocate resources and divide attention between officials and freelance reporters, whose work environments are vastly different and whose interests are not always aligned, and in fact at times quite divergent. Although DRA’s duty lies first and foremost with freelance reporters, it supports officials in any way it can, whenever it is not harmful to freelance reporters to do so, and on numerous occasions has joined forces with officials to fight for the good of the profession as a whole.
DRA’s mission statement is as follows: “DRA strives to preserve and enhance the freelance stenographic reporting profession, ensure its integrity, and maintain its high standards and impartiality wherever stenographic services are required. DRA is committed to ensuring that the freelance stenographic reporting profession remains a viable and integral part of the legal system.“
DRA has remained true to its mission statement since its formation. It continues to grow each year and to do great things for reporters. It has an impressive record of legislative accomplishments:
AB 2842 in 2002 clarified that the deposition officer may not go off the record without the stipulation of all parties present unless any party attending the deposition, including the deponent, wishes to seek a protective order due to the manner in which the examination is being conducted.
AB 2842 exempted a reporter’s audio files from the legal requirements imposed upon other audio or video records made at a deposition by differentiating that the reporter’s audio file is a record made by the deposition officer to assist in transcribing the testimony, as opposed to a record made by or at the direction of a party. In conjunction with this effort, DRA defeated a bill that would have required reporters to retain their audio files consistent with the legal requirements of retaining stenographic notes, thereby subjecting those files to the possibility of being subpoenaed.
AB 2842 added the language that “any offer made by a deposition officer to provide realtime or rough drafts to any party shall be made to all parties in attendance and that the cost for such services or products shall be equal to all parties.” This is the first language in the California CCP to address equal pricing for services, preventing the providing of rough drafts or interactive realtime either for free or at a reduced rate to one side in the litigation.
AB 333 in 2005 clarified that if a deposition is taken stenographically, it shall be done so by a California CSR, which, although custom and practice, was not actually stated in the CCP. AB 1293 in 2006 included language proposed by DRA that reporters being paid from the Transcript Reimbursement Fund may be compensated for nonappearances and for customary per diems or hourly fees, neither of which was provided for previously.
DRA successfully opposed legislation that would have required encryption, password protection and electronic signature on e-mailed transcripts.
DRA worked with CCRA to pass AB 1211, a bill that holds attorneys directly liable for the payment of reporters’ services, unless written notice is given at the time the services are requested that another entity is responsible. The bill took effect January 1, 2008.
In addition to these legislative achievements designed to improve the working arena for deposition reporters, in 2004 DRA supported COCRA in its opposition to a proposed compromise to expand ER in some courtrooms in exchange for live reporters in others, because we recognized that that would be harmful to the profession as a whole. Our philosophy is not that ER is inevitable and that we should therefore try to control it, but rather, that ER will never be acceptable and should be fought every step of the way.
DRA worked in 2004 and 2005, again for the benefit of the profession as a whole, to protect the Court Reporters Board from being abolished under the Governor’s reorganization plan. We attended extensive meetings, solicited many letters and ultimately were successful in extending the Board’s existence. DRA continues to work now, in a combined effort with CCRA and COCRA, to devise a strategic plan that will ensure the viability and longevity of the Court Reporters Board, which remains under threat of being sunsetted.
On a nonlegislative note, in 1997 DRA developed the Certified Realtime Reporter exam and began administering it at its annual convention, fall seminar and occasionally throughout the year. This test consists of five minutes of live Question and Answer dictation at 180 words per minute and, as such, is a true test of one’s realtime skills. Currently five county courtrooms and federal court recognize the value of this certification and pay their official reporters who hold this designation a pay differential of up to 20 percent. This exam has since been renamed to CCRR, California Certified Realtime Reporter.
On a national front, DRA fought for and received all benefits attendant to being an affiliated state association of the National Court Reporters Association. These include a myriad of “perks,” from availability of a discounted Board of Directors insurance policy, to discounted affiliate costs for CEUs, to a complimentary table at NCRA’s midyear convention. Perhaps the greatest benefit is being invited to participate in NCRA’s yearly Leadership Conference and Legislative Bootcamp, as well as inclusion in the National Committee of State Associations, and the opportunity to provide a voice for the California reporters we represent.
The Deposition Reporters Association will continue to fulfill its mission to protect the interests of freelance reporters in California and to strive for excellence in the field of court reporting.