California Official Court Reporters Association

Category Archives: Court Budgets

SF Superior Court Calls Back Remaining Laid-Off Officials

Posted on September 17, 2013 by admin

In a move welcomed by officials in San Francisco Superior Court, notices from court administration went out early last week to the remaining five official reporters on the court’s holdover list giving them the opportunity to accept the offer and return to full-time employment.

Although the court has given no explanation as for the reasons why the remaining reporters were called back, the move by the court was seen as a positive development by IFPTE Local 21, the union representing official reporters in SF Superior Court, and the San Francisco Official Court Reporters Association (SFOCRA). Both organizations have been working diligently for the restoration of all the reporters that were laid off by SF Superior Court when it eliminated the positions of official reporters from the civil courts.

Of the original twenty-four officials laid off in the fall of 2011, ten officials remained on the holdover list at the start of 2013. Five officials were called back by the court over the summer, and the remaining five officials were called back last week.

Posted in Campaign for Officials, Court Budgets, Court Closures, Court Reporter News, Furloughs, Officials in Civil Courts, Reporter Layoffs | Comments Off

COCRA Releases 2013 PAJTF Report

Posted on March 28, 2013 by admin

COCRA is pleased to announce that it has updated its Preserving Access to Justice Task Force Report (PAJTF).

In addition to providing a brief overview about the importance of court reporters in the courts, the PAJTF Report also lists the “true costs” to litigants and the judicial system where ER is involved.

This report has been proven to be a valuable tool and reference paper for reporters in California and throughout the nation. COCRA urges all court reporters to utilize the PAJTF Report when promoting the profession of court reporting in California’s courts.

Click here to download the 2013 edition of the PAJTF Report.

Posted in Campaign for Officials, Court Budgets, Court Reporter News, Electronic Recording, Legislation | Comments Off

SEIU Urges Lawmakers to Oppose ER In Family Law

Posted on March 28, 2013 by admin

Michelle Castro, SEIU Director of Government Relations, has sent a letter to members of the Assembly Judiciary Committee respectfully requesting that they oppose the latest ER bill by Donald Wagner (R). AB 251 would see the expansion of electronic recording (ER) into family law courts.

In the letter, Ms. Castro lays out in stark detail some of the shortcomings found with ER. Quoting from the letter:

“There are many instances where the use of audio recordings have jeopardized the accuracy of the verbatim record. Further, these electronic recordings have real and serious problems with inaudibles and inaccuracies, a sound such as ruffling of papers or a cough could muffle several words.”

The letter also goes on to promote the advantages of having a court reporter which includes the ability of court reporters to provide live realtime translation of court proceedings.

You can read the letter in its entirety by clicking here.

Posted in Campaign for Officials, Court Budgets, Court Reporter News, Electronic Recording, Legislation | Comments Off

COCRA Sends Letter Urging Legislators to Oppose ER Bill

Posted on March 20, 2013 by admin

The following letter was sent by COCRA Legislative Advocate Shane Gusman on behalf of COCRA and Professional and Technical Engineers, IFPTE Local 21. The letter urges members of the Assembly Judiciary Committee to vote against the ER bill introduced by Donald Wagner (R).

——————————————————————————————————

To: All Members of the Assembly Judiciary Committee

From: Barry Broad, Shane Gusman

Date: March 18, 2013

Subject: AB 251 (Wagner)—OPPOSE

Clients: California Official Court Reporters Association/Professional and Technical Engineers, IFPTE Local 21

The above organizations oppose AB 251 by Assembly Member Donald Wagner.

AB 251 would allow a court to use electronic recording equipment in a family law case if an official reporter or an official reporter pro tempore is unavailable.

We are very sensitive to the fact that courts are failing to provide the services of official court reporters in family law proceedings. Failing to do so ensures that there is no accurate record of the proceedings and virtually no appellate rights for these litigants. Given what’s at stake in family law proceedings, we should be requiring that an official court reporter be available for every proceeding like we do in criminal court. Unfortunately, this bill takes the opposite approach and creates a lesser standard for reporting family law proceedings.

(more…)

Posted in Campaign for Officials, Court Budgets, Court Reporter News, Electronic Recording, Legislation | Comments Off

New Bill Introduced to Address Privatization of Court Services

Posted on February 21, 2013 by admin

Assembly Member Bob Wiecskowski has introduced AB 566, a new bill that appears to address the privatization of court services. This has become a very important issue for court employees, especially official court reporters, in light of the actions taken by Placer County Superior Court to replace the court’s staff of official reporters with services provided by an outside court reporting firm.

The bill seeks to add a new section to the Government Code labeled GC 71621.

Of particular interest to court reporters is the new language found in Section 71621 (a)(3) which reads:

“The contract shall not cause an existing trial court employee to incur a loss of his or her employment or employment seniority, a reduction in wages, benefits, or hours, or an involuntary transfer to a new location requiring a change in residence.”

Shane Gusman, COCRA’s Sacramento Legislative Advocate, will be monitoring the progress of this bill and offering support as needed. Your COCRA Legislative Committee will also be offering assistance as well.

You can read the bill in it’s entirety by clicking on this link.

Posted in Campaign for Officials, Court Budgets, Legislation | Comments Off

Placer Superior Plans to Outsource All Reporting Services

Posted on December 2, 2012 by admin

For those of you keeping tabs on the attempts of Placer County Superior Court (PCSC) to privatize court reporter services, the latest news is that the entire staff of official reporters will receive layoff notices early in the new year.

PCSC posted requests for proposals on its website this past fall in which they were seeking to have court reporter firms take over the court reporting services within the court. It appears that PCSC has chosen a firm, although the name of the firm is unknown at this time.

COCRA will be contacting PCSC to determine the reporting agency that has been selected and we will in turn be contacting said agency to determine what their plans, if any, will be for those officials to be laid off.

COCRA has stated it before, and we will reiterate once more, that COCRA believes that superior courts have a moral and professional obligation to provide in-house court reporting services to litigants, defendants, and the general public who walk through the courthouse doors of California.

This should also be a wakeup call to ALL court reporters throughout the state that this is yet another attempt by courts to outsource the work of public employees. And COCRA will work diligently with all parties to ensure that this “solution” does not spread.

Although we acknowledge the budget constraints that courts have been under these past years, COCRA still firmly believes that there are budgetary and legislative solutions to assist courts that will prevent the outsourcing of the work of official reporters and offer reporting services free of bias and conflict to all litigants.

Posted in Campaign for Officials, Court Budgets, Court Closures, Furloughs, Reporter Layoffs | Comments Off

San Diego Superior Issues Press Release on Removal of Official Reporters from Civil Courts

Posted on September 28, 2012 by admin

The following is a press release issued by San Diego Superior Court:

San Diego Superior Court To Stop Providing Court Reporters In Civil Proceedings

Following the lead of many other courts around the state, effective November 5, 2012, the San Diego Superior Court will provide court reporters only in criminal felony,  family, and juvenile matters during regular court hours. Official court reporters will not normally be available in probate or other civil matters. In addition, effective December 28, 2012, official court reporters will only be available in family matters for Domestic Violence Restraining Order hearings, Contempt hearings, and Request for Order hearings of 40 minutes or less.

(more…)

Posted in Court Budgets, Court Closures, Court Reporter News, Reporter Layoffs | Comments Off

Budget Update: Budget Passes Both Houses with $544 Million Decrease to Judiciary

Posted on June 15, 2012 by admin

COCRA Legislative Advocate Shane Gusman has submitted this budget update.

Both houses of the Legislature passed the main budget bill this afternoon. The bill “balances” a budget that started with a $15.7 billion deficit with a combination of cuts, fund transfers, and assumptions regarding the successful passage of the Governor’s tax proposal on the November ballot.

The cuts part of the package are substantial and some of the most needy among us will feel the pain the most. The courts of course were not spared. The budget bill contains a $544 million decrease in general fund support for the Judicial Branch. The Legislature attempted to minimize the impact if this cut by, among other things, taking $240 million from the court construction funds and using it for trial court operations. Additionally, $235 million in local trial court reserves will be shared statewide on a pro rata basis. This will be done with a formula based on the percentage of reserves a local court holds compared to the total for the state. For example, if court X holds 10% of the statewide reserve, then court X will take 10% of this reduction.

The judicial branch trailer bill was not considered today and will likely be voted on early next week. This will contain fee increases, including a $30 fee for civil court reporter services for proceedings lasting under an hour that we spurred through our sponsorship of AB 2076. Hopefully, resolution of other outstanding issues that we care about will make their way into the trailer bill as well.

All of this, by the way, is in flux because the Governor has threatened to veto the main budget bill as it doesn’t contain all of the cuts he proposed.

COCRA will continue to keep you updated in the days to come.

Posted in Court Budgets | Comments Off

San Francisco Officials Donate $5000 to COCRA

Posted on March 25, 2012 by admin

The San Francisco Official Court Reporters Assn (SFOCRA) overwhelmingly approved a motion to donate $5000 to COCRA’s general fund to assist in COCRA’s efforts in membership retention and renewal, as well as underwriting seminars and conferences.

SFOCRA Vice President Deborah Neville issued the following statement about the donation.

“We make this donation to COCRA confident in the knowledge that COCRA, an association created over a decade ago “For Officials, By Officials,” truly represents the official reporters in California’s superior courts who work incredibly hard every day to provide a true, accurate, and impartial verbatim record of court proceedings. SFOCRA believes in COCRA because COCRA believes in official reporters.”

COCRA thanks the official reporter members of SFOCRA who made this donation even after having suffered greatly in the past six months with layoffs and removal of official reporters from civil.  COCRA will continue to work tirelessly on their behalf and on behalf of all official reporters in California.

Posted in Campaign for Officials, Court Budgets, Court Reporter News | Comments Off

Ventura County Court’s Layoffs Hinge on Governor’s May Budget Revise

Posted on March 24, 2012 by admin

COCRA received word late Friday afternoon that Ventura Superior Court is preparing for layoffs with a proposed 20-30 employees to be laid off July 1st, followed by another 20 layoffs effective some time in December of this year. The proposed budget plan for Ventura courts also include a plan to shut down the East County Courthouse in Simi Valley.

However, according to an article in the March 5th online edition of the Ventura County Star, the proposed layoffs and courthouse closure are dependent on Governor Brown’s May budget revise.

Ventura County Superior Court Presiding Judge Vincent O’Neill said he regrets the inconvenience and hopes the public understands why plans to close the East County Courthouse are necessary.

“We are still hoping that we won’t have to,” the judge said.

O’Neill said Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed budget will be revised in May, and he is hopeful there will be some budget relief between now and then. However, the judge said courts throughout the state have to hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

The budget must be approved by June 15, O’Neill said.

“There is a lot of lobbying going on like crazy” in Sacramento, he said.

COCRA has not received a firm account of whether court reporters will be affected by the layoffs and COCRA will be providing further updated information as we receive it.

Posted in Campaign for Officials, Court Budgets, Court Closures, Reporter Layoffs | Comments Off

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