Ethics Opinions Every South Carolina Attorney Should Know: Part V, Failing to Pay the Court Reporter

There are a number of reported disciplinary opinions in which failure to pay a court reporter was part of the basis for the discipline.  The case of In the Matter of Marvin P. Jackson, 365 S.C. 176, 617 S.E.2d 123 (2005), is one of the few cases in which that failure was the sole basis of discipline.  It appears the sanction for repeat or multiple failures to pay the court report is a public reprimand.

The Supreme Court believes that failure to pay the court reporter violates Rule 1.15 (lawyer shall promptly deliver funds to which a third party is entitled) and Rule 8.4(a) (it is professional misconduct for a lawyer to violate the Rules of Professional Conduct) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

The Supreme Court further believes this conduct violates Rule 7(a)(1) (it shall be ground for discipline for lawyer to violate Rules of Professional Conduct) and Rule 7(a)(5) (it shall be ground for discipline for lawyer to engage in conduct tending to bring legal profession into disrepute) of the Rules for Lawyer Disciplinary Enforcement.

The lesson of Jackson: pay the court reporter promptly (and don’t order the transcript or notice the deposition until you have the funds).

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