The following letter voicing COCRA’s opposition to ER in Family Law has been filed with the Commission on the Future of California’s Court System.
This letter affirms COCRA’s belief that ER has no place in Family Law proceedings and that its implementation in those courts may have severe negative economic effects on litigants in Family Law matters.
February 2, 2016
Honorable Carol A. Corrigan
Commission on the Future of California’s Court System
455 Golden Gate Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102
Dear Justice Corrigan:
The members of California Official Court Reporters’ Association, (COCRA), are in opposition to Concept 5’s proposal to allow for expanded use of electronic recording in our court system. We strongly urge the Commission on the Future of California’s Court System to remove that particular recommendation from their report.
We have attached COCRA’s most recent Preserving Access to Justice Task Force Report. As you can see from the report there are numerous cases cited of digital recording malfunctions across the nation.
In addition to malfunctions and incomplete transcripts, electronic recording is not a cost savings. The technology is expensive to purchase, to maintain and to operate. The transcripts that are produced often have “inaudible” portions throughout. The cost of the transcripts created from electronic recordings are more expensive that the ones produced by the official reporters. The transcriptionist needs to listen to the tape numerous times to decipher what is being said, thus taking more time to create a transcript and driving up the cost.
With an official reporter, if the reporter doesn’t hear what is said, the reporter can ask the speaker to repeat.
Having electronic recording in Family Law denies equal access to the litigants. Appealing a decision with an electronic recording that has been transcribed makes for an incomplete record. Every time an “inaudible” appears in the transcript some of the meaning of the testimony is lost.
Please review the attached PAJTF report. We believe you will agree that having a court reporter in court is the most efficient and cost-effective way to maintain the record.
Anne M. Hall
President, California Official Court Reporters’ Association
Honorable Jerry Brown, Governor
Honorable Kevin DeLeon, President Pro Tem of the Senate
Honorable Toni Atkins, Speaker
Honorable Anthony Rendon, Speaker-elect
Honorable Hannah Beth Jackson, Chair, Senate Judiciary Committee
Honorable Mark Stone, Chair, Assembly Judiciary Committee
Honorable Mark Leno, Chair, Senate Budget
Honorable Shirley Weber, Chair, Assembly Budget
Honorable Loni Hancock, Senate Budget Sub #5
Honorable Reggie Jones Sawyer, Assembly Budget Sub #5
Below is information about the program as well as links for registration.
Saturday, March 19, 2016
400 West Broadway
San Diego, California
9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (.6 CEUs)
$175 NonMember Registration Fee
*$150 SDSCRA Member Registration Fee
Check-in and breakfast beginning at 8:00 a.m.
San Diego Court Reporters Association welcomes all officials, CART, and freelance reporters to a major league triple-header! Trainers from the three major CAT vendors will be here ready to train you on your software. Our theme is “Where Great Minds Unite.” The newest features in technology, the brightest court reporters from all fields, and the most cutting-edge software companies’ trainers will unite here.
Bring your laptops and writers for a 6-HOUR (.6 CEU) mind-blowing day where you can learn, network with reporters, and pick up great tips and information from the software trainers themselves.
Register early. There will be a maximum number of 30 spaces available for each class so the trainers can devote better quality time for all of you. There is no better deal than this for an all-day event.
Raffle prizes! Free parking at the Westin Hotel! Click here for room rate code info. Make sure you pick up your raffle tickets and parking sticker validation when you check in.
We hope you have a great learning experience with us in San Diego!
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.
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.
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.
“…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.
San Francisco Superior Court seeks licensed Court Reporters, able to report in Realtime who are willing to work for the Court on an Intermittent or As-Needed basis, reporting a variety of proceedings and producing transcripts upon request.
Chosen qualified candidates will be appointed as “as-needed” employees who will then be
contacted to work on a daily basis, when needed by the Court. Most of the assignments will be in the Criminal departments. Assignments are made in half-day or whole day increments.
COMPENSATION: $51.60 per hour*
*Plus additional Realtime pay differential of 5.5% for using Realtime or 10% for Realtime
After 1040 paid work hours, paid health and dental insurance, retirement, and paid vacation and sick leave benefits may be available.
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.
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.
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.
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.