Ethics: Advisory Opinion No. 1998-3

Advisory Opinion No. 1998-3
Advisory Opinion No. 1998-3

Advertisement Of Transcripts By Court Reporters And Monitors
Constitutes Use Of Office Under Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-84(c)

Martin Libbin, attorney for the Judicial Branch, has asked a series of questions regarding the application of the Code of Ethics for Public Officials, Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-79 et seq., to court reporters and monitors who might, through an internet service, advertise for sale transcripts which they have prepared in their state jobs.

The threshold question is whether advertisement by court reporters and monitors of the availability of court transcripts for sale constitutes an improper use of state office or position for financial gain, in violation of Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-84(c), which prohibits such use of office. The State Ethics Commission has previously issued two other opinions dealing with the court reporters and monitors. See, State Ethics Commission Advisory Opinion Nos. 94-2, 55 Conn. L.J. 37, p. 4D (3/15/94) and 97-2, 58 Conn. L.J. 35, p. 4E (2/25/97). In Advisory Opinion No. 94-2, the Judicial Department argued, and the Commission agreed, that the preparation of transcripts was part of the reporter’s/monitor’s state job, not private outside employment. State statute and regulations set the rates that can be charged for the transcripts. Since the preparation of the transcripts is clearly a state function, it follows that for a state employee to advertise for private sale a document prepared as the result of the performance of his or her state job would be a use of state office or position in contravention of Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-84(c).

Such a ruling does not prevent a private business (unrelated to, and without the assistance of, a court reporter or monitor) from reviewing court records and selecting a particular case for advertisement or from purchasing a particular transcript. If the court reporter/monitor is then contacted by an outside party, he or she may certainly fill any order for a transcript, provided that the statutory/regulatory rates are charged.

By order of the Commission,

Stanley Burdick

Content Last Modified on 9/7/2005 8:02:27 AM