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Commercialization of The Civil Justice System

As keepers of the official record, it is essential to the integrity of our justice system that court reporters retain an impartial role in the adversarial process. Increasingly, insurers and other large corporations, completely circumventing counsel and their related ethical obligations to the courts, are contracting directly with some court reporting agencies. These arrangements, at the very least, create an appearance of partiality, and, at worst, give preferential treatment and special services to the contracting party that are not made available to the opposing parties. The ultimate and most serious consequence of this trend is the undermining of the integrity of the judicial system in and of itself as a neutral mechanism for resolving disputes.

Despite the passage of laws in a number of states prohibiting certain contracting arrangements, practices which threaten the impartial role of court reporters have continued virtually unabated on a national scale. Thus, there is a definite need for a strong and coordinated effort to encourage broader protections and to bring actions to enforce existing laws. Such a unified campaign is necessary to prevent duplication of efforts and devote resources to strategies that will yield the most fruitful results.

The overall goal of the Fair Justice Project is to preserve the integrity and impartiality of the judicial system by preserving the neutral and impartial role of court reporters, deposition officers, and officers of the court. To this end, the Foundation employs a full-time staff attorney to organize the Project by performing the following roles:

Clearinghouse role--gathering factual and legal information and disseminating to state groups to be used for educational campaigns, legislative advocacy and litigation.

Organizing role--mapping out campaign strategies for various states to include public education, media work, coalition building, targeting decision-makers; preparing sample press packets, op-ed pieces, LTEs, and developing fundraising plans.

Media and Public Outreach role--educating the media, bench and bar, and the public about the ways the impartiality of the judicial system is being threatened.

Send us your complaints, documents...
...or any information you have that illustrates how special deals between insurers or other corporate defendants jeopardize the impartiality of the judicial process. If you know attorneys or judges who oppose these preferential agreements and are willing to speak out on the issue to the media and/or legislators, ask them to write to us relating their objections and concerns.

Please use the FTCR Complaint Form to submit your personal experiences. Be sure to specify that your complaint pertains to "The Justice System" and give a brief summary of specific instances where you have encountered problems with insurers or other interested parties entering into special deals with court reporters.

You can also write and send documentation to:
Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights
Attn: Fair Justice Project
1750 Ocean Park Blvd., Suite 200
Santa Monica, CA 90405
(310) 392-8874 fax
PLEASE NOTE: The Fair Justice Project does not intend to single out or condemn any particular firm or individual court reporter. We will also not publish the names of any individuals who submit information to us, but would like to be able to call upon you to relate your experiences to media reporters and may publish information from submitted materials in our educational reports. We are taking a close look at any practices that threaten the actual or perceived impartiality and integrity of the judicial process. Our efforts are focused on creating public awareness about such abuses and providing technical advice to state leaders on how to address the growing problem of insurers special deals with court reporters and other issues that give corporations an advantage in litigation over injured consumers.

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