A. The purpose of this rule is to ensure the integrity of the record and to avoid the appearance or potential for deferential treatment of parties to an action. Court reporters serve as officers of the court and both the appearance and existence of impartiality are no less important for officers who take depositions than for judicial officers and other persons whose responsibilities are integral to the administration of justice.
B. The court reporter taking the deposition, or the firm or any other person or entity with whom such court reporter has a principal and agency relationship or is otherwise associated, shall not enter into a contractual or financial agreement, arrangement or relationship for court reporting services, whether written or oral, with any attorney, party to an action, insurance company, third- party administrator, or any other person or entity that has a financial interest in an action, which gives the appearance that the impartiality and independence of the court reporter has been compromised. Specific examples of arrangements that are prohibited include ones that:
(1) establish rates and terms for court reporting services that extend beyond a single case, action, or proceeding;
(2) include a court reporter on any list of preferred providers of court reporting services after exchanging information and reaching an agreement specifying the prices or other terms upon which future court reporting services will be provided, whether or not the services actually are ever ordered;
(3) allow the format of the transcript to be manipulated to affect pricing;
(4) require the court reporter taking the deposition to relinquish control of an original deposition transcript and copies of the transcript before it is certified;
(5) fail to offer comparable services, in both quality and price, to all parties or otherwise require the court reporter to provide special financial terms or other services that are not offered at the same time and on the same terms to all other parties in the litigation;
(6) allow the court reporter to communicate directly with a party of interest, other than a pro se party, except to provide invoices; and
(7) base the compensation of the court reporter on the outcome or otherwise give the court reporter a financial interest in the action.
C. These prohibitions do not apply to situations where fees or special services may be negotiated, provided that they are the same for all parties and are negotiated on a case-by-case basis. Also, these prohibitions do not extend to governmental entities, if they are required by law to obtain court reporting services on a long-term basis through competitive bidding.
D. Any violation of these prohibitions shall be enforceable by the court in which the underlying action is pending. Without otherwise limiting the inherent powers and discretion of the court, a deposition taken in violation of these prohibitions shall constitute a violation of Rule 28(d) of the Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure (disqualification for interest), and be subject to all sanctions for such a violation under the Rules of Civil Procedure. In addition, any court reporter, firm, attorney, or party that willfully violates these prohibitions may be subject to fine or sanction by the court, and a court reporter may be subject to disciplinary proceedings before the Board of Certified Court Reporter Examiners.
E. These rules shall be applicable to all court reporting services provided on or after February 21, 2008.