TN 1 (05-05)
SL 60001.642 Court Reporters
According to the U.S. Department of Labor / Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 60% of court reporters work for State and local governments, 10% are self employed, while most of the remaining court reporters are salaried employees working for court reporting agencies or firms. The National Court Reporters Association (NCRA), along with other leading industry participants, classifies court reporters as two different types, “official” and “independent or freelance.” Official court reporters are employed by judges and the courts. Independent court reporters are commonly self employed or work for an independent reporting firm.
The distinction between official and independent court reporters is not always obvious. For example, the court reporter in a state court might be referred to as “official,” even though he/she is actually an independent reporter. This incorrect association is often a result of a lack of understanding regarding the types of court reporters. Also, the term “official” has become synonymous with any duty performed in a court of law rather than exclusively a title for full time government employed court reporters. Furthermore, due to an increasing number of firms representing court reporters, it is becoming more common to have courts contract with independent reporters to serve on an “as needed” basis. The independent court reporter is not an employee of the court, but provides court reporting services to the court. Similarly, a reporter who works as an official court reporter in a government court can also act independently. All work done outside of the court not related to their official government position is considered independent employment. Independent employment is not subject to the provisions of respective 218 agreements in which coverage is extended to official court reporters in any given state or instrumentality.
Official government court reporters in public courts are government employees with respect to services performed by them which are required by statute. The same holds true for local or county court reporters working in municipal courts. Those services performed by official government court reporters outside of the statute, such as furnishing additional transcripts, in which a fee is paid directly to the court reporter (see SL 60001.625 for public officials paid by fees) will be remunerated by wages, or payments which become self employment income, separate from their wage payments by the government entity or court. Self employed independent court reporters working outside of a court or those who contract their services to a government court are compensated with payments which become self employment income. Court reporters represented by court reporting agencies are employees of the agency not the state or instrumentality for which they perform services. Official court reporters can perform independent work; however, independent or freelance court reporters, while they may be assuming the role of an official court reporter, are not government employees.
In all instances, SSA and State Social Security administrators should first consult their respective section 218 agreements for mention of the service of court reporters. Any individual who is not an officer of the State or instrumentality of government as defined in Section 218(b)(3) should be evaluated on the basis of whether or not an employer / employee relationship exists. Refer to RS 02100.000 for additional information on employee /employer relationships.