California Official Court Reporters Association

Category Archives: Court Closures

Governor’s Proposed Budget Brings Some Good News for Courts

Posted on January 10, 2015 by admin

Governor Brown has released his proposed budget and there appears to be some good news for the courts. COCRA will be monitoring the budget situation to assess whether the proposed budget will benefit court reporters.

Here are the significant adjustments to the judicial budget proposed by the governor.

Trial Court Funding

Consistent with the proposed two‐year strategy, the Budget includes an augmentation of $90.1 million General Fund to support trial court operations.

Trial Court Employee Costs

The Budget includes $42.7 million General Fund for trial court employee benefit costs, of which $10.8 million reflects funding for trial courts that have now made progress towards meeting the Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act of 2013 standard. The Administration is committed to funding future increases related to existing health benefits and retirement costs for trial court employees and retirees.

Trial Court Trust Fund Revenues

The Budget includes an additional $19.8 million General Fund to reflect a further reduction of fines and penalty revenues in 2015‐16. Coinciding with this adjustment, the Administration proposes permanently extending temporary fines and penalty revenue measures enacted as part of the 2012 Budget Act.

Proposition 47

With the passage of Proposition 47 in November 2014, it is anticipated that trial courts will experience increased workload primarily in the early years of implementation due to the requirement that courts reclassify certain drug and theft crimes that involve less than $950 from felonies to misdemeanors.

The Budget includes $26.9 million General Fund to reflect a projected increase in trial court workload.

Amnesty Program

The Budget proposes the establishment of an 18‐month outstanding delinquent debt amnesty program that would be administered by the courts and counties. Courts and counties would recover their costs to administer the amnesty program utilizing revenues collected through the program.

Dependency Counsel Funding

The Administration recognizes the important role played by counsel who represent abused and neglected children and their parents in dependency cases. The Judicial Council’s current annual budget allocation for court‐appointed dependency counsel is $103.7 million. Over the last several years, the Council has evaluated the workload of dependency lawyers and recommended a basic caseload standard of 188 cases per attorney. An improvement in attorney caseload would reduce hearing delays and potentially shorten time to permanency for families. The current statewide average caseload is 248 cases per attorney. Many counties fall well within the standard but others far exceed it. Judicial Council allocations to courts are based on historical factors rather than on current caseloads. The Administration will work with the Judicial Council to develop a caseload‐based allocation methodology and explore ways to reduce the number of cases.

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

Audit of AOC is Released: Worst Suspicions Confirmed

Posted on January 7, 2015 by admin

Critics of the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), the government agency in charge of supervising the running of California’s court system, have long argued that the AOC was completely mismanaged and had grown so unwieldy in terms of size and scope and spending that an audit was needed.

An audit of the AOC indeed was ordered and today the California State Auditor’s office released its findings confirming all of the worst suspicions that the AOC’s critics had of the agency.

Some of the damning highlights of the audit released today revealed:

  • The Judicial Council did not adequately oversee the AOC in managing the judicial branch budget, which allowed the AOC to engage in questionable compensation and business practices.
  • Provides its staff with generous salaries and benefits—the AOC pays eight of its nine office directors more than the governor and many other high-ranking executive branch officials receive.
  • Employs over 70 contractors and temporary employees and could save about $7.2 million per year by using state employees in comparable positions.
  • Maintains a fleet of 66 vehicles without requiring its offices to justify the need.
  • Made about $386 million in payments over the last four years on behalf of trial courts using funds appropriated to them but could have paid a portion of those payments from its own funds.
  • The AOC has sole autonomy in deciding how to spend certain judicial branch funds due to the lack of Judicial Council’s involvement in the budgeting process.
  • The AOC has few policies, procedures, or controls in place to ensure funds are appropriately used and spent and, unlike the executive branch, is not required to undergo an annual independent financial audit.
  • Although it provides services to the courts, the AOC has never comprehensively surveyed the courts to identify the needs of the courts and ensure that services it provides are useful.

You can read the highlights of the audit here including some of the recommendations that the audit proposed. The full audit may be read here.

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

Courts Still Suffering Under Cutbacks

Posted on May 11, 2014 by admin

“…Court reporters who provide transcripts of hearings have been eliminated for civil cases in many counties, making it more difficult for the losing party to appeal.”

“…recession-driven cutbacks in California’s huge court system have produced long lines and short tempers at courthouses throughout the state. Civil cases are facing growing delays in getting to trial, and court closures have forced residents in some counties to drive several hours for an appearance.

(Don Barletti, Los Angeles Times)
Amanda Lugo, a legal processing assistant, searches for a case file in the criminal clerk’s office at the Superior Court in Victorville, Calif. Budget cuts recently closed the Barstow Superior Court, bringing hundreds of cases to this court.

Originally Published May 10th in the LA Times:

Click here to continue reading.

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

San Mateo Officials Avoid Layoffs

Posted on September 17, 2013 by admin

The official reporters of the San Mateo Superior Court appear to have dodged a bullet as court administration pull back from its original plan of laying off two official reporters.

Earlier in the year court administration initially said that the layoff of officials was a possibility due to budgetary constraints. However, after changes in their revised budget, court administrators have chosen to rescind its decision to lay off official reporters for this fiscal year. This move by the court could also be seen as a sign that San Mateo Superior Court sees the importance of providing official reporters for all proceedings.

According to court reporter sources in San Mateo Superior Court, layoffs were slated to begin this Friday, September 20th, 2013.

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

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

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

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

"Unprecedented Closures" For California Courts

Posted on July 30, 2009 by admin

For the first time in California history, the courts will close across the state one day each month because there simply isn’t enough money to keep them open.

The California Judicial Council, the policymaking arm of the state courts, voted Wednesday to shutter every court in the state the third Wednesday of every month, an unprecedented response to the state’s staggering budget deficits. With a $414 million budget gap for the California court system, the 21-member council unanimously backed the courthouse closure option to save an estimated $85 million, despite widespread discomfort with the idea.

“It doesn’t feel good,” said San Francisco Superior Court Judge Mary Wiss, a council member and president of the California Judges Association. “It leaves you with something in the pit of your stomach.”

-Continue Reading Article-

Posted in Court Closures | 2 Comments

“Unprecedented Closures” For California Courts

Posted on July 30, 2009 by admin

For the first time in California history, the courts will close across the state one day each month because there simply isn’t enough money to keep them open.

The California Judicial Council, the policymaking arm of the state courts, voted Wednesday to shutter every court in the state the third Wednesday of every month, an unprecedented response to the state’s staggering budget deficits. With a $414 million budget gap for the California court system, the 21-member council unanimously backed the courthouse closure option to save an estimated $85 million, despite widespread discomfort with the idea.

“It doesn’t feel good,” said San Francisco Superior Court Judge Mary Wiss, a council member and president of the California Judges Association. “It leaves you with something in the pit of your stomach.”

-Continue Reading Article-

Posted in Court Closures | 2 Comments

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