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Court reporters seek regulation

Virginia court reporters plan to seek state regulation in the 2019 General Assembly, according to materials submitted to a panel that recommends changes in the law for civil practice.

The Virginia Court Reporters Association has hired a lobbyist and drafted proposed legislation to create a Virginia Board of Court Reporting that would license court reporters deemed qualified, according to VCRA president Leslie Etheredge.

Court reporters currently have no administrative oversight in Virginia.

“The VCRA is actively pursuing legislation to raise the level of competence, ethical standards, accountability and professionalism of the practitioners in the industry,” Etheredge wrote in an Aug. 20 letter to a Boyd-Graves Conference committee.

“It is the Commonwealth’s inherent power to protect the public’s health, safety, and welfare, and we believe the unregulated practice of court reporting poses a serious risk to consumers, and the potential for harm is recognizable and could likely occur,” Etheredge said.

The VCRA was expected to seek the support of the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association and the Virginia Bar Association, Etheredge said. Two national court reporters associations had sent letters of support in August.

Etheredge identified John Stirrup of Washington as a lobbyist for the regulation project. Neither Etheredge nor Stirrup responded to requests for additional information.

While 70 percent of lawyers responding to a July survey responded “no” when asked if they had experienced problems with court reporters, 52 percent thought there should be mandatory certification or regulation of court reporters, according to a committee report to the Boyd-Graves Conference. The committee said 851 lawyers responded to the survey.