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In re Board of Certified Court Reporter Examiners

Supreme Court of Arkansas

June 22, 2017

IN RE BOARD OF CERTIFIED COURT REPORTER EXAMINERS

          PER CURIAM

         The Board of Certified Court Reporter Examiners [the Board] has submitted proposed changes to The Rule Providing for Certification of Court Reporters and the Regulations of the Board of Certified Court Reporter Examiners. We have reviewed the Board's work, and we now publish the suggested amendments for comment from the bench, bar, and public. Comments on the suggested changes should be made in writing on or before August 30, 2017, and they should be addressed to: Stacey Pectol, Clerk, Supreme Court of Arkansas, Attn.: Board of Certified Court Reporter Examiners, Justice Building, 625 Marshall Street, Little Rock, Arkansas 72201. The proposed changes are set out in "line-in, line-out" fashion (new material is underlined; deleted material is lined through).

         The Rule Providing for Certification of Court Reporters Section 1

         A. The Board of Certified Court Reporters Examiners hereafter referred to as the "Board", shall be composed of seven members who shall be appointed by this Court. Four of the members shall be judges of the Circuit or Appellate Courts and shall be appointed for terms of three years. Initially, one of the four shall be appointed for a term of one year, one for a term of two years, and two for a term of three years. Three of the Board members shall have been court reporters in and citizens of Arkansas for at least five years prior to their appointment. Of the court reporters appointed to the board, at least one shall be a machine shorthand writer, at least one shall be a mask dictation/voice writer, at least one shall be an official court reporter, and at least one shall be a freelance court reporter. Initially, one of the three shall be appointed for a term of one year, one for a term of two years, and one for a term of three years. Members of the Board shall serve without compensation but shall be reimbursed for their travel and other expenses in the performance of their duties.

         B. Members shall be appointed to serve a three-year term and may be reappointed to a second two additional three-year terms. A member whose term has expired shall continue to serve until a successor is appointed and qualified. The Court shall fill any vacancy by appointing a member for the duration of an unexpired term and may remove any member for cause. A member who has been appointed to complete an unexpired term shall be eligible for reappointment to serve two terms of three years each.

         C. Each member shall take an oath that he will fairly and impartially and to the best of his/her ability administer this Rule.

         Section 3

         The Board is charged with the duty and invested with the power and authority: A.To determine the eligibility of applicants for certification.

         B. To determine the content of examinations to be given to applicants for certification as certified court reporters.

         C. To determine the applicant's ability to make a verbatim record of court proceedings by any recognized system designated by the Board.

         D. To issue certificates to those found qualified as certified court reporters.

         E. To set a fee to be paid by each applicant at the time the application is filed and an annual license fee.

         F. To develop a records retention schedule for official court reporters for cases pending in of state trial courts.

         G. To develop, implement, and enforce a continuing education requirement for court reporters certified pursuant to this Rule.

         H. To promulgate, amend and revise regulations relevant to the above duties and to implement this Rule. Such regulations are to be consistent with the provisions of this Rule and shall not be effective until approved by this Court.

         I. To provide a system and procedure for receiving complaints against court reporters, investigating such complaints, filing formal disciplinary Complaints against reporters, and for hearing, consideration, and determination of validity of charges and appropriate sanctions to be imposed upon any reporter.

         J. To hire an executive secretary to assist the Board with its duties.

         Section 4

         Every applicant for certification as a certified court reporter shall file with the clerk of this court a written application in the form prescribed by the Board. Upon request, the clerk of this court shall forward to any interested person application forms together with the text of this rule and a copy of the regulations promulgated by the Board under the provisions of Section 3. The application form along with the rules and regulations governing this Board and court reporters shall be available on the Board's website.

         Section 5

         Applicants shall:

         a. be at least 18 years of age, b. be of good moral character, c. not be a convicted felon, d. submit an official background check from the designated state authority or from the National Crime Information Center, and

         e. not have been adjudicated or found guilty, or entered a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to, any felony, or to any misdemeanor that reflects adversely on the applicant's honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a reporter in other respects, or to any crime a necessary element of which, as determined by the statutory or common law definition of the crime, involves interference with the administration of justice, false swearing, misrepresentation, fraud, deceit, bribery, extortion, misappropriation, theft, or an attempt, conspiracy or solicitation of another to commit a felony.

         Section 7

         (a) Sanctions.

         For violations of this Rule or "Regulations of the Board of Certified Court Reporter Examiners, " other than those related to the nonpayment of fees outlined in Section 9 of the Rule, the Board for good cause shown, and by a majority of four (4) votes from the Board concurring, after a public hearing by the Board, may sanction a reporter by ordering a public admonition, or by suspending or revoking any certificate issued by the Board. In the alternative, the Board, with four (4) votes concurring, may sanction a reporter with a private, non-public admonition. Discipline by consent, as set out in Section 8 of thisese Rules, may also be utilized by the Board for any violations of the aforementioned Rule or Regulations.

         (b) Definitions.

         1."Revoke a certificate" means to unconditionally prohibit the conduct authorized by the certificate. If a reporter's certificate is revoked, the reporter is not eligible to apply for a new reporter's certificate for a period of five (5) years after the date the revocation order becomes effective after final Board action or after final action by the Supreme Court of Arkansas, if there is an appeal.

         2."Suspend a certificate" means to prohibit, whether absolutely or subject to conditions which are reasonably related to the grounds for suspension, for a defined period of time, the conduct authorized by the certificate. No suspension shall be for less than one (1) month nor for more than sixty (60) months.

         3."Admonition" means a written order or opinion of the Board stating the specific misconduct or failure to perform duties by the reporter. The admonition shall be designated as being private or public by the Board. A private admonition shall be a confidential document known and available only to the Board and the reporter.

         . . . (0)Hearings.

         (1) Hearings shall be conducted at such times and places as the Board may designate.

         (2) A hearing shall not be conducted unless at least five (5) Board members are present.

         (3) After hearing all the testimony and receiving all the evidence in a case, the Board shall deliberate in private and reach a decision on the Complaint. At least four

         (4) votes are required to find a Rule or Regulation violation and to order a sanction. The same four (4) Board members are not required to vote for both the rule violation(s) and the sanction.

         (4) If at least four (4) Board members agree on the Rule or Regulation violated by the reporter, and on a sanction, an Order consistent with such vote shall be prepared and provided to the Board Chair for review and approval. Upon approval, such Order shall be filed with the Clerk of the Arkansas Supreme Court and a filed copy shall be promptly provided to the respondent reporter and any counsel for the reporter.

         (5) In addition to any available disciplinary sanction, the Board may also order a reporter to pay:

         (a) The costs of the investigation and hearing, excluding any attorney's fees, (b) A fine not to exceed $1, 000.00 and

         (c) Full restitution to any person or entity which has suffered a financial loss due to the reporter's violation of any Board Rule or Regulation, but only to the extent of the costs of any reporter's transcript and fees and expenses associated with a transcript of any court proceeding or deposition.

         (6) Once a public hearing has commenced, a private, confidential admonition is not an available sanction.

         Section 8

         (a) Surrender of Certificate.

         A reporter may surrender his or her certificate upon the conditions agreed to by the reporter and the Board:

         (1) In lieu of disciplinary proceedings where serious misconduct by the reporter is ...


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