So is this something new, or am I just out of the loop?

If you go to the NCRA site http://ncraonline.org/, the first article is regarding a ruling that just came down on the 8th (yesterday) re California Court Rules in Deposition Fee Case. It concerns the price of copies, and specifically started with expedited rates being charged to copies.

Quite interesting.

Judy

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This has been discussed for a while now - but the ramifications are HUGE. I just sent out a mass email to the members of my state association, with requests to send to all their friends, to try to light a fire under folks. I think this could be a VERY very bad precedent - if other states jump on this bandwagon, the entire paradigm of reporting billing may change drastically.

And, indeed, quite interesting.

tori
So should we call this judge next time we charge for an expedite to make sure it's reasonable? Who's deciding what's reasonable? Shouldn't it be the market, the public? It's called supply and demand.

And is it reasonable that the page rates that reporters are making today are they same as they were 10, 15 years ago?

I didn't know that the court could control how much a business owner charged a client for services? I think that's called "un-American."

Simply because freelance reporters are technically officers of the court and within the court's bailiwick doesn't mean that our fees should be set or controlled by them. Pure and simple, judges shouldn't have the power to control what a business owner charges for services. They certainly don't control what attorneys charge.

Part of their argument was, since they weren't a client of Coast Court Reporters, they didn't have "bargaining power" or control over what fees were charged. So if one party in a case uses a more expensive copying service than the other party would have liked, does that mean they can go into court and force the more-expensive copying service to defend themselves and ultimately lower their rates?

And just because a lot of agencies don't charge the copy-ordering attorneys an expedited fee doesn't mean it's an unfair charge. The office has to go through a LOT more effort and work to get all the copies out on expedites, without any extra compensation. Imagine an agency trying to get out in one day an O+8 400-pg transcript with 200 pages of exhibits. That's a LOT of copying and binding. Not to mention all the other transcripts that have to go out that same day.

I've never worked in an agency's office, but I imagine it would be nice to put off those copies and only do the ones for those who absolutely needed it quickly. And not all parties need their copy expedited. It's an option that's available to them. In this case, it was an option that was charged for accordingly. They were charged the same percentage increase as the original-ordering attorney.

Why it's become customary to send all copies out at once, I don't understand. Technically, to be fair to all parties, we have to charge everyone fairly and equally. We can't charge one copy-ordering attorney $2/pg and another $3/pg just because we feel like it. Ethically (and I think per code), we are obligated to charge them the same.

So if the original-ordering attorney is paying, say, 50% more for an expedited delivery, what is so unfair about charging the copy-ordering attorney that same percentage when they require the same expedited delivery?

I believe attorneys and judges alike are thinking, "Well, all you have to do is press a button to produce another copy." If they saw the office of a court reporting agency on a day they were trying to get out that 400-pg O+8, with all those piles, all the binding, they might change their minds.

And if you're of the opinion that it's unfair to charge expedited fees on copies and you're thinking, "What's the difference in getting them out today or in the normal course, two weeks? The same effort is put into it," then, with that same rationale, no reporter should ever be able to charge extra for an expedite.

It's about the extra effort that is expended by the reporter or agency on behalf of the requesting party to get them their product by the time they requested. They pay for what they get. They want it quicker, we charge them more.

A friend just told me that years ago this expedite fee for copy orders used to be customary. Then contracting came along and forced everyone into hyper-competitive mode, lowering rates and undercutting each other just to survive.

And apparently there are several agencies here in Los Angeles that still do charge expedite fees on copy orders. Most reporters aren't familiar with this concept because the fee isn't usually shared with the reporter nowadays.
Attachments:
I also wanted to point out that Nancy at Coast has always been more than fair, sharing that expedited fee with her reporters.

I feel bad for her, having to spend God knows how much in attorneys' fees just to defend herself in an action to which she was not even a party.

I hope the NCRA, CCRA, and DRA don't let this decision slide. We need our agencies to stand up for our profession. We also need to support our agencies, of course. I'm a big fan of the DRA because they're always doing things like getting legislation passed in our favor.
Thanks for posting the decision. So in a nutshell, she should be paid by July 27, and they're going to pay, but they're still saying that they shouldn't pay; right?

I've been hearing about this, and I'm a little confused.
Sounds like the trial court voted in Coast's favor, reluctantly, calling her charges "unconscionable," and ordering the attys to pay her. Then the appellate court overturned the decision, ordering Coast to return the expedite fees.

But I'm not positive about all that. Maybe I can get Nancy to weigh in on this, clear it all up for us.
Marla,

I don't know Nancy, but I feel for her. My god, what must that have cost her? I think all agencies should take note of the plaintiffs' attorney's name and cover their butts when dealing with him.

And I've never heard of a firm charging for expedite fees on a copy and not paying the reporter. I have heard reporters asking if I charge an expedite fee on copies, which I haven't in the past. I even had to ask Louie at Reporters' Connection whether it's customary b/c one of his reporters wanted extra. He says it's not customary for the small firms that he works with.
I just want to also mention that I have noticed more and more CR firms charging an expedite to the copy side. I don't see how it would not be fair. The party ordering the expedite has to pay extra for it, so why should all other parties get a free ride as a result of the expedite? Now, THAT doesn't seem fair to the party paying for the expedite.
O/T, Judy, did you happen to notice the first few figures in Marla's attachment? Looks like that .50pp exhibit charge you mentioned in your estimate range on CRF was right on.
Very well said, Marla. I couldn't agree with everything you've said more.

Of course, a "reasonable fee" is wide open to interpretation and is completely subjective.
Good post, Marla.

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