NCRA COPE - General guidelines - Section V: Guidelines On Providing Uncertified Rough Draft Transcripts

The National Court Reporters Association realizes 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 National Court Reporters Association suggests 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.

  1. It should be noted that when an uncertified transcript is provided, there will be two versions of the transcript for one proceeding – the unofficial, uncertified version and the official, certified version.  The uncertified transcript may contain errors, some of which could change the accuracy or meaning of the testimony.  An uncertified transcript may not be filed with the court.
  2. An uncertified transcript may only be distributed to ordering parties to the case.  It should not be made available to the public, including news organizations or other non-participants.
  3. A court reporter providing an uncertified rough draft transcript should perform the task undertaken by him or her in a professional manner, observing all laws, rules, and orders of the court relating to the proceeding.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. A court reporter shall take steps to ensure that no one would mistake the uncertified rough draft for a final, certified copy of the transcript.  An uncertified rough draft transcript should not include a completed title page, appearance page, certificate page, any mention of the swearing in of a witness by name, footer with firm name or reporter name or CSR #. 
  7. An uncertified rough draft transcript should include a header or footer on each page stating "uncertified rough draft transcript only."  A brief disclaimer may be included in the body of the text occasionally. If provided on diskette, the diskette label should be similarly labeled, and the label may be a different color than those used on diskettes containing the text of certified transcripts.  Uncertified rough draft transcripts may be provided in condensed format only.  Page numbers may be included.
  8. A disclaimer and/or order form, such as the one attached, 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 for any purpose and may not be filed with any court.  A copy of the signed disclaimer and/or order form should be retained by the court reporter.
  9. Where possible, all untranslated steno strokes and conflicts should be resolved before an uncertified rough draft transcript is provided to any party.

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.

Sample Disclaimer Form