TN 1 (05-05)
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.