Source: They’re Charging Reporter Rates for Word Index…

US Legal Support Invoice

Now, it’s notable that this could be completely legal. At the very least, an attempt to gain class certification on the issue over a decade ago failed. But we can still poke very hard at the way the whole thing is done.

Stenonymous source points out that though court reporting agencies charge full price for word index, court reporters are typically not paid for them.

Given the nature of the action, in my view, it would be wrong for Stenonymous to publish the full transcript. But I have personally reviewed portions of the transcript. The certification, errata, and all that ends at 149, then the word index begins, totaling up to the 181 pages. It kind of goes to what the court was saying in that class action link I just posted. Paraphrasing heavily: “It would not be deceptive business practice if a restaurant did not itemize every item in a cheeseburger.” Basically saying that the word index can be viewed as part of the entire transcript or product and therefore need not be itemized.

But it is really an add-on, isn’t it? My whole career as a freelancer came and went without ever being paid for a word index. Other court reporters report not being paid for their word indices. Word indices are not a required part of the transcript in jurisdictions I’ve read about. It’s a convenience feature. A convenience feature usually added by “the agency.” The agency that is supposed to be a separate and distinct entity without direction and control over “the freelancer.” The agency that is supposed to be a litigation support service and not a court reporting firm, but flip flops whenever it’s convenient for them in court and/or makes them more money. Yeah, that agency.

Certainly, the word index has some value. But is it quite the same value as a caption page that often needs to be filled in manually? Is it quite the same value as a transcribed page? Those can have a 1:1 or 1:2 ratio with time “typing” versus time “transcribing” (typing/writing : transcribing). Said another way, there’s a lot more time and effort going into each page of the rest of the transcript. Not so much with the word index. It’s literally what we accuse the digital reporters of doing, button pushing. In my guesstimate, it takes about as much time to generate an entire word index as it does to produce one page of a transcript. So back to the judge’s cheeseburger statement, it’s more like if the restaurant subcontracted out their cook, and the cook said, “yeah, I’ll make this hamburger for you.” The cook does the laborious work of cooking the hamburger, which in our completely screwed up analogy takes about 5 hours to make on a good day. The agency takes the hamburger, adds a slice of cheese, which takes it a minute or two (0.67% of the time it took to make the hamburger), and charges around 20% more for the now-completed cheeseburger — and that’s on top of their cut from the hamburger itself*.

*Which has me thinking, maybe I could be a judge. Sometimes I read these decisions on the internet and I think to myself, “wow, this can easily be argued both ways and the court just happened to agree with the wealthier side of the equation.” I could do that (joke).

The funny thing about this is court reporters were so paralyzed by fear that none of this would have ever broken if the larger corporations had just been honest. It wasn’t until they started surreptitiously siphoning stenographer work to digital court reporters that people started to feed me information and stand up against the gouging of attorneys/consumers.

If anybody from U.S. Legal Support is reading, your staff asked me not to contact you anymore, so I generally do not, but you’re always free to leave a comment explaining your position. I do not censor unless something is clearly spam, abusive, defamatory, or impersonating someone else. We’re playing an interesting game of incongruence where you all have a lot more money, but I have a growing movement of people — small business owners, court reporters, attorneys, and members of the public — that believe it really does matter if things are done legally and ethically. That’s not even counting the people that follow and support me out of their own self-interest. I’ve seen firsthand how our message resonates with real people. Accountability media matters™️.

God forbid the New York Times figures out that people love this stuff or blog supporters start passing posts to journalists. If you believe in what’s happening here but can’t contribute financially, please consider passing a tip to your favorite news outlet. It’s a free online action you can take to support the cause. My suggestion is to use the post about the court reporter / stenographer shortage fraud. The more people we have standing in unity and saying this is a problem, the less likely we will be ignored.

Stenonymous.com shares August 2023 statistics.

P.S. I have a lot of posts to write and publish over the coming week(s). Please forgive me if something you’ve sent or we’ve spoken about hasn’t been featured yet. Feel free to double check with me that it’s in the pipeline.

2 thoughts on “Source: They’re Charging Reporter Rates for Word Index…

  1. When word indexes were first available, I informed clients that we had a new index feature. I never once charged a per page rate for the index. If it was a few pages, I would just include it in the transcript. If it were many pages, I would typically add on a few dollars to capture the cost of the paper and printing. In my opinion, this is price gouging on the part of US Legal. It infuriates me that these firms are getting away with overcharging clients, and on top of that, they are not sharing the overage with the reporter, who generated the transcript. Thank you, Christopher Day, for your continued support of the court reporting industry and your investigations into shady practices by firms.

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