California Official Court Reporters Association

Category Archives: Judicial Council

Governor Vetoes Transcript Increase Bill

Posted on September 25, 2016 by admin

California court reporters suffered another defeat in the years-long battle to get an increase in transcript rates.

COCRA will update members and supporters as to any future action to revive another transcript increase bill or an attempt to address the increase via the budget process as stated by the Governor.

Governor Brown released a brief statement yesterday stating his reasons for his refusal to sign AB 2629. Below is the text of his statement in full.

“To the Members of the California State Assembly:

I am returning Assembly Bill 2629 without my signature.

This bill would increase the fee that court reporters can charge for a court proceeding transcript.

This bill results in additional pressure to the General Fund by increasing costs to the judicial system. It covers spending that is more appropriately considered during the budget process.”

Sincerely,
Edmund G. Brown.

Posted in AOC, Campaign for Officials, Court Budgets, Court Reporter News, Judicial Council, Legislation, Page Rate, Uncategorized | Comments Off

Alliance of California Judges Opposes Commission’s Court Reporter Recommendations

Posted on August 23, 2016 by admin

The Commission on the Future of California’s Court System (Futures Commission) will be holding a meeting on August 29th in which a public comments session will be held to, “further its mission of identifying ways to improve the court system and increase access to justice for all Californians.

Of the concepts presented by the Futures Commission, two concepts stand out that should concern all official court reporters.

  • Concept 8.  Explore Court Reporters’ Dual Status, Compensation Discrepancies, and Ownership of Transcripts
  • Concept 10.  Explore Court Reporters’ Dual Status, Compensation Discrepancies, and Ownership of Transcripts

COCRA will be lodging letters of opposition to both of these proposals as COCRA believes these “concepts” are yet another attempt by the Judicial Council to implement “concepts” that will negatively affect official court reporters and the public at large.

COCRA is not alone in this belief.  Today, the Alliance of California Judges sent an email to the Judicial Council stating their reasons for opposing these two concepts.  We are including some of the comments that the ACJ submitted in their email.

The ACJ on Concept 8:

“Concept 8 is a proposal to deprive court reporters of the money they make from preparing transcripts. We consider this proposal an attempt to nickel-and-dime our co-workers, hundreds of whom have already been laid off over the past few years.”

The ACJ on Concept 10:

“Concept 10 is an effort to promote the replacement of court reporters with digital recordings…..The inadequacy of electronic recording isn’t just a matter of speculation; it’s a matter of record.”

COCRA agrees completely with the ACJ’s assessments of these two concepts.

COCRA will be working diligently with Shane Gusman, COCRA’s Legislative Advocate, as well as all unions, associations, and supporters of official court reporters to defeat these concepts which diminish our profession and further erode true access to justice for all Californians.

We will be updating you in the future with the results of our efforts and we encourage you to follow us on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Posted in AOC, Campaign for Officials, Court Budgets, Court Reporter News, Electronic Recording, Judicial Council | Comments Off

COCRA Files Opposition to ER in Family Law

Posted on February 4, 2016 by admin

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.

Sincerely,

Anne M. Hall
President, California Official Court Reporters’ Association

CC:
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

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

ER In Family Law: Alliance of California Judges Opposes

Posted on January 27, 2016 by admin

The following letter was sent out by the Alliance of California Judges voicing opposition to some of the concepts, such as ER in Family Law, put out by the Commission on the Future of California’s Court System.

 

Futures Commission Cloudy: Try Again Later

“Dear California Media (FYI, the following has been sent to our Alliance members),

In advance of a public comment session to be held next month, the Commission on the Future of California’s Court System just released its first batch of ideas. These proposed areas of study, a year and a half in the making, are grouped into 15 “concepts.” You can read them at this link.

We have a bad feeling about this. Many of these concepts—hatched in closed-door meetings with AOC support staff—look like the same tired old proposals that the AOC has been advancing for more than 15 years. The proposals include a “consolidated system” for juvenile courts; “systems to be implemented statewide,” including a “uniform statewide system of child custody mediation”; and a “transferable case management methodology to support all courts throughout the state.

Apparently the Commission sees the big problems confronting the branch as stemming from a lack of uniformity. The bulk of their proposed solutions involve an increase in central control—and in the power of the AOC. The Commission seems to have overlooked the spectacular failure of CCMS or the withering criticisms of our central bureaucracy by the Strategic Evaluation Committee in 2012 and the State Auditor just last year. If recent history teaches us anything, it’s that the AOC has the Midas touch in reverse when it comes to local court administration.[Emphasis added.]

Concept 4 involves “trial court employment and labor relations.” The authors point to the “great variation in trial court terms and conditions of employment” and urge the Commission to rethink “existing labor practices” in order to flatten out “court-to-court variations in employment terms and conditions.”  The Commission will explore “the costs and benefits of different models of bargaining”—specifically including statewide bargaining.

When we recently suggested that the Commission was contemplating an expansion of the AOC’s role in local labor relations, including hiring and firing, our branch leaders went ballistic and quickly denied it. But the fact remains that the AOC can’t engage in statewide bargaining unless it has statewide authority over labor issues. It can’t bargain unless it has control.

Concept 5—a call for “a cost-effective official record in all case types”—also gives us grave concern. We sense it is a drive for more electronic recording in our courtrooms, fewer court reporters, and an attempt to deny reporters compensation for the transcripts they produce. This is dangerous. We firmly believe that a certified shorthand reporter provides the most accurate record for the parties and the strongest bulwark against bogus complaints of judicial misconduct. Anyone who has listened to an electronic recording of a court proceeding knows that it is no substitute for a reporter’s transcript. Moreover, further steps to reduce compensation to reporters will leave California struggling to find certified reporters, already a huge problem in states like Illinois and Pennsylvania, leaving courts with no option but to compromise due process by using unreliable and undecipherable electronic recordings.

There’s more. One statement in support of Concept 6, “Technology-Enhanced Court Proceedings and Online Transactions,” gives us chills: “Courts are unable to share information across jurisdictions and some are even unable to share information within the same jurisdiction, due to incompatible case management systems. . . .”  [Emphasis added.]

In these words, the ghost of CCMS stirs. We are deeply concerned that the Commission will propose a statewide case management system along the lines of the one that cost us half a billion dollars and brought us to the brink of financial ruin. We are dismayed that the Commission contemplates an even greater role for our central administrators in technology management when past experience tells us they should be looking to vacate the field entirely.

The issues the Commission left unaddressed are just as disturbing as the proposals buried in these “concepts.” Nothing suggests that the Commission has considered an audit of the billions in court construction funds, scaling back the AOC’s staffing levels, moving toward a fee-for-service model for the AOC, or democratizing the Judicial Council. To the contrary, this set of “concepts” reads like an AOC wish list. The vast majority would entail an expansion of the AOC’s already excessive reach into local trial court affairs.

In his recent budget proposal, the Governor specifically mentioned that he was hopeful that the Futures Commission would come up with ideas that would “effectively and efficiently enhance access to justice.” With every proposal that expands the reach of the AOC, hope fades. We will do our best to prevent this Commission from “transforming” the judiciary into an inefficient statewide court system with centralized control and reduced flexibility and efficiency. Our trial courts and the public they serve deserve better.”

Directors, Alliance of California Judges
Alliance of California Judges
1817 Capitol Ave., Sacramento, CA 95811

Posted in AOC, Campaign for Officials, Court Budgets, Electronic Recording, Judicial Council, Legislation | Comments Off

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