In the perfect environment, both the plaintiff and defendant will get access to the transcript of their trial for the same exact cost. However, court reporting firms in Indiana say that national firms are issuing invoices that are unbalanced in favor of the client that hired the national firm. This creates situations called “cost shifting” where wealthier clients are getting steep discounts on transcripts while poorer clients are forced to pay as much as 10 times more for the same exact transcript.
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This happens when a national firm is hired by an attorney to record a court transcript. The national firm will contact local firms and contract them out for trials on a case-by-case basis. After a reporter or reporting firm is hired and the trial ends, the local firm will pass the invoice on to the national firm, taking the issue of pricing out of the hands of the local firms. Subsequently, local reporters are hearing back from clients that they have been charged far more than they are used to when dealing directly with local firms.
As this has happened, Indiana court reporters are concerned about national firms violating the ethics of court reporting by giving a lower price to either side of a trial. The problem is that if local firms try to refuse a job, the national firms will contact reporters directly or find local reporters that aren’t connected to any one company, causing local firms to lose opportunities for work.
Indiana already has a law in place that says court reporting services cannot contract with parties interested in an outcome, such as an attorney. This does not itself prevent “cost shifting,” but it instead shows that national firms are violating the anti-contracting law. Indiana reporters are hoping that anti-“cost shifting” laws can be instituted on a state or federal level to better align with court reporting ethics.