ER Bill Fails to Leave Committee
COCRA Legislative Advocate Shane Gusman Shares the Good News on Wagner’s Failure to Get ER Bill Through Committee
Today the Assembly Judiciary Committee held a hearing on AB 1834 (Wagner) which would authorize trial courts to utilize electronic recording in family law matters. The three main proponents were the California Conference of State Bar Associations, the Association of Certified Family Law Specialists, and someone who referred to themselves as an electronic recording reporter (or something along those lines).
The author and his witnesses did not contend that ER is somehow better than having a live reporter. In fact, Assembly Member Wagner called having a reporter in the courtroom “the gold standard” for keeping an official record.
Instead, they argued that limited court resources have led to a diminishing number of official reporters available for family law proceedings despite the importance of having a record of those proceedings. They also argued that the technology has improved and that we shouldn’t let saving a few union jobs get in the way of the interests of family law litigants.
We had our usual coalition of union and reporter representatives opposing the bill on a variety of grounds including reliability, accuracy, cost, ADA access, etc. We also took the opportunity to agree that court reporters are the gold standard.
Picking up on that theme, the chair of the committee, Assembly Member Stone, asked the author if he would agree to amend his bill to instead mandate that an official court reporter be available for all family law matters in all 58 counties. The chair hinted that if Mr. Wagner chose to take his bill to a vote without that amendment, that it would fail to get sufficient votes to stay alive.
After much back and forth, the author chose not to take the chair’s suggested amendment and also chose to hold the bill in committee without a vote. This is a big victory for reporters as the momentum to do something in family law has been building for some time.
Chairman Stone was instrumental in defeating this bill and vowed to continue the fight to get reporters back into family courts. He promised to work with the Budget Committee and the Speaker of the Assembly in an effort to achieve this goal.
COCRA Legislative Advocate
Broad & Gusman
Comments are closed.