COCRA Responds To Governor's Slam Against CSRs
We just could not let the Governator’s rude and uninformed comments about court reporters go unanswered. So Patricia Dowling, COCRA Steering Committee Member, drew up COCRA’s official response and sent it in to the reporter who conducted the interview with the Governator.
We thought it was a brilliant response and I’m sure after you read it, you’ll agree as well. Make the jump to read Ms. Dowling’s letter.
My name is Patricia Dowling. I am a Court Reporter in the San Francisco Superior Court. I am writing this email to refute Governor Schwarznegger’s statements made on NPR Monday, June 8, 2009 in your interview with him. His statement was specifically, “Like for instance, we don’t need Court Reporters. I mean, we can do this digitally. Why are we still holding on to Court Reporters? Just because the unions want to hold on and keep their jobs.”
It is simply not true that digital recording technology has advanced to the stage where it is reliable and cheaper. It is only as good as the operator that turns it on and what the microphone can pick up (and sometimes, of course, private conversations are recorded as well.) Many states including Texas, New Mexico, Florida, New York, Kentucky, Illinois, Oregon, Hawaii and Nevada as well as the Federal Courts have implemented digital recording only to return to the use of Court Reporters. Licensed Court Reporters pay for their own software, equipment, staff and supplies, and we are currently being paid 20-year old statutory rates to produce transcripts. In the last 100 years, court-paid transcripts costs have increased only 325% for the original and 50% for the copies, while the consumer price index during this period has increased 2,000%.
Replacing Court Reporters in civil cases makes no sense either. California courts collect $26 million annually from user fees charged to civil litigants for the services of a Court Reporter per Government Code Section 68086.
Additionally, most of California’s Court Reporters provide realtime translation to the bench. We are the “only” technology available to provide such a service. Voice recognition has been called one of the “ten most disappointing technologies.” Realtime technology is also what allows Court Reporters to provide closed-captioning to the hearing-impaired.
Most importantly, there is the unquantifiable impact of the importance of a reliable record in a court of law. All we have at the end of the day is what is contained in the record. People’s confidence in the legal system is one of the very foundations of our culture. Our system of justice cannot sustain itself without an accurate and reliable record.