California Official Court Reporters Association

Category Archives: Uncategorized

Civil Court Reporter Fee System is Broken

Posted on October 28, 2011 by admin

Stanislaus County pulled all its Official Reporters out of civil courts, years ago, only to recognize that mistake and return to the staffing of civil courts with official reporters. Yet again, it’s their plan to pull reporters from civil courts as an answer to budget shortfalls. Santa Cruz made that same change last year. In Napa, Marin and Alameda civil courts, official court reporters are disappearing at alarming rates. Ventura and LA are being warned of coming layoffs. Other courts have intimated this might also be a solution to their budget woes. Last Monday, San Francisco Superior Court jettisoned all its official court reporters that cover the civil courts.

What’s going on? The answer is not simple.

The California Legislature provides public funding for official court reporters in court matters most intrinsic to an orderly and safe society: criminal, civil conservancy, family and juvenile. Back in 1992, the California Legislature, recognizing the efficiencies derived from using in-house court reporters, enacted a user fee system to encourage the courts also to provide official court reporters in all other matters [not covered by GC69952], including civil. The user fee system was designed to offset the costs of the service provided to the litigants who pay the fee and to guarantee accessibility and availability of a verbatim record.

However, over the past 20 years, the user fee system has become a political football in the battle of the state budget. Over the years, it’s been diluted to a point where there is little evidence that it does anything to directly offset the costs to each trial court for the reporting service provided. It’s actually becoming an excuse for local courts to put the onus on the litigants with money and a lawyer to privately retain and drag a CSR into court. More problems flow from there, not the least of which is the increasingly imbalanced access to justice between litigants of means and litigants without means. This growing mess is not what the Legislature intended, and it’s certainly not consistent with the mission of the courts.

COCRA is inviting other stakeholders to participate in our efforts to fix this broken fee structure and to stop the privatization of the official reporters’ jobs. Follow our progress and check back with us here on our website for updates and information on how you can help.

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COCRA’s Registry of Officials

Posted on October 7, 2011 by admin

As many of you know, there has been a trend in various superior courts throughout the state to remove official court reporters from civil courts.

Aside from the negative effects to the public and the judicial system, this has resulted in the layoff of many officials.

The California Official Court Reporters Assn. would like to help. COCRA is in the process of developing a separate page on our website which will contain a registry of those officials who have been recently laid off. This registry will contain the names and contact info for those officials. It is our intent to begin advertising that page in various legal outlets to promote the experience and expertise that these officials bring to counsels seeking a reporter for a civil proceeding.

If you would like to add your name to our registry, please contact us by clicking here. We will send you a brief form to fill out that will give us information that we need to post to the registry.  It is COCRA’s hope to focus as much attention as we can to all of you who have been or may get laid off.

Please be sure to visit our site often for updates, or to follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

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A Reference Guide No Court Reporter Should Go Without

Posted on September 11, 2011 by admin

If you’ve been to a COCRA seminar then it’s more than likely you’ve attended a session led by grammarian extraordinaire Margie Wakeman Wells. Her sessions on punctuation for court reporter professionals are incredibly popular and receive some of the best, if not the best, seminar ratings from COCRA attendees.

Margie has created a website for those court reporters who, “care about grammar and punctuation, because you want to learn more, because you love a lively debate about where to put that comma or what that number form should be!”

COCRA highly encourages officials to check out Margie’s reference guide Court Reporting: Bad Grammar/Good Punctuation. The book is a blessing for officials who struggle on a daily basis to correctly punctuate “attorney speak.”

The description of the book below is taken from Margie’s own website.

Court Reporting: Bad Grammar/Good Punctuation is the story of punctuation. Read in its entirety along with the exercises that parallel it in the Workbook, this is an advanced course in punctuation for the court reporter, the court reporting instructor, the court reporting student, or anyone who wants to truly understand punctuation.

It is the definitive text on the rules for punctuation; a discussion/explanation of the rules; and the thing that sets it apart from other texts on punctuation is that it includes those special things we need to know about applying the rules to the court reporting transcript.

For those interested in purchasing a copy of this great book, please click here.

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COCRA Is Under New Management

Posted on September 1, 2011 by admin

The California Official Court Reporters Association (COCRA) recently went through a Request for Proposals (RFP) process to identify a new association management company. After extensive review of the submissions and interviews of the top candidates, COCRA has awarded the contract to Smith Moore & Associates.

Smith Moore & Associates

Smith Moore & Associates is a full-service association management firm located in downtown Sacramento, California, within walking distance of the State Capitol. Since its inception in 2006, Smith Moore & Associates has grown from one client to 15 clients; and from two staff members to 15 employees. The vision of Smith Moore & Associates is simple: to be the premier association management company on the West Coast.

To achieve this vision, Smith Moore & Associates and its principal are dedicated to a singular focus of association management. Smith Moore & Associates focuses on the administration and strategic management of its clients, while working jointly with each client’s legislative advocates and associated counsel.

Smith Moore & Associates provides high-quality management services that are tailored to the specific needs of its clients. This approach ensures that the volunteer leadership can focus on the vision of the organization, while being confident the day-to-day operations are implemented effectively and efficiently.

Melissa Dixon
Account Manager

Melissa Dixon, CAE,is the Director of Operations and an Account Manager at Smith Moore & Associates. Melissa has fourteen years of experience in administrative and management services to trade associations. Melissa also manages California Association of Business Brokers (CABB), the California Association of Code Enforcement Officers (CACEO), the California Official Court Reporters Association (COCRA), the California Society for Municipal Finance Officers (CSMFO), the Fire Districts Association of California Employment Benefits Authority (FDAC EBA), the Mosquito Research Foundation (MRF), the Sacramento Valley Association of Building Officials (SVABO), and Springbrook National User Group (SNUG).

Melissa specializes in database management, budget development, meeting/event planning, human resources, and writing and editing publications. She works closely with the boards and committees of her clients in the development of governance documents, bylaws, policies, procedures, and credentialing and accreditation programs.

Melissa graduated from California State University, Sacramento, where she received a bachelor’s degree in English and earned from Walden University her MBA with a concentration in non-profit administration. Melissa received the prestigious Certified Association Executive (CAE) designation from the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) in 2010.

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COCRA’s Letter of Opposition to AB 110

Posted on September 1, 2011 by admin

The following letter was sent to the office of Governor Brown, stating COCRA’s opposition to AB 110, a bill which affects the filing of felony pleas and sentencings.

Please refer to our earlier writings about this matter posted here and here.

July 26,2011
Honorable Jerry Brown
Governor
State Capitol, First Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814
RE: AB 110 (Blumenfeld)-Request for Veto

Dear Governor Brown,

I am writing on behalf of the California Official Court Reporters Association (COCRA) and the Professional and Technical Engineers, Local 21, IFPTE, AFL-CIO (PTE), to request that you veto AB 110 (Blumenthal) when it reaches your desk.

(more…)

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Register for CCRR Exam at COCRA’s Fall Seminar

Posted on August 18, 2011 by admin

October 1, 2011 – 12:00 p.m. – COCRA Fall Seminar – San Francisco
San Francisco State University
Union Square Downtown Campus
The Westfield San Francisco Centre
835 Market Street, 6th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103

The California Certificate in Realtime Reporting (CCRR) is a skills test designed to measure the basic realtime writing competency of court reporters. The test is comprised of five minutes of dictation at 180 words per minute at 96% accuracy. Candidates must use their own CAT dictionary. Candidates must perform their own translating functions. Candidates are required to convert their final skills test file to ASCII or PDF format and copy it onto a 3.5″ disk or CD without assistance, and surrender the disk or CD to a CCRR Proctor. Candidates must label their ASCII or PDF disk or CD with their registration number, with a label provided upon check-in; name or any other personal identification is not permitted.

Click here to register.

Click here for more information.

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Passage of Bill Affects Filing of Plea Transcripts

Posted on July 20, 2011 by admin

In May we reported to you that the language in SB428 to change 1203.01 PC, regarding delivery of plea and sentencing transcripts, had been removed and the issue was pretty much dead – at least during this legislative session. Our reporter unions and associations had expressed their opposition which resulted in the 1203.01 amendments being removed from the Court Omnibus bill.

But in a bold and unorthodox move last week, AB110 (Blumenfield), a bill previously relating to the Revenue & Taxation Code, was completely gutted and amended. The “new” AB110 was drafted to contain provisions related to court budgetary items and included the 1203.01 PC amendments. The vote on this bill was expedited as part of the budget trailer package, and it was passed in both houses on Thursday, only days after it was introduced. This bill is now enrolled and awaiting the Governor’s signature before it becomes law.

The new statutory language deletes the requirement to send copies of all felony plea and sentencing transcripts to the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation upon commitment. Instead, only transcripts in cases where the sentence is “death or an indeterminate term with or without the possibility of parole” would be automatically provided. The amended statute includes language that provides for additional transcripts to be provided upon written request.

Although this appears to be a blow to reporter compensation, the amendment does not necessarily change the standing order in individual jurisdictions, but affects only the copies previously sent to state prison.  It is possible this amendment may precipitate changes in your individual court policy.  However, please follow the directions and orders of your court jurisdiction with regard to plea transcription.

You can read the statutory language with amendments below:
(more…)

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Passage of Bill Affects Filing of Plea Transcripts

Posted on July 20, 2011 by admin

In May we reported to you that the language in SB428 to change 1203.01 PC, regarding delivery of plea and sentencing transcripts, had been removed and the issue was pretty much dead – at least during this legislative session. Our reporter unions and associations had expressed their opposition which resulted in the 1203.01 amendments being removed from the Court Omnibus bill.

But in a bold and unorthodox move last week, AB110 (Blumenfield), a bill previously relating to the Revenue & Taxation Code, was completely gutted and amended. The “new” AB110 was drafted to contain provisions related to court budgetary items and included the 1203.01 PC amendments. The vote on this bill was expedited as part of the budget trailer package, and it was passed in both houses on Thursday, only days after it was introduced. This bill is now enrolled and awaiting the Governor’s signature before it becomes law.

The new statutory language deletes the requirement to send copies of all felony plea and sentencing transcripts to the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation upon commitment. Instead, only transcripts in cases where the sentence is “death or an indeterminate term with or without the possibility of parole” would be automatically provided. The amended statute includes language that provides for additional transcripts to be provided upon written request.

Although this appears to be a blow to reporter compensation, the amendment does not necessarily change the standing order in individual jurisdictions, but affects only the copies previously sent to state prison.  It is possible this amendment may precipitate changes in your individual court policy.  However, please follow the directions and orders of your court jurisdiction with regard to plea transcription.

You can read the statutory language with amendments below:
(more…)

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Passage of Bill Affects Filing of Plea Transcripts

Posted on July 20, 2011 by admin

In May we reported to you that the language in SB428 to change 1203.01 PC, regarding delivery of plea and sentencing transcripts, had been removed and the issue was pretty much dead – at least during this legislative session. Our reporter unions and associations had expressed their opposition which resulted in the 1203.01 amendments being removed from the Court Omnibus bill.

But in a bold and unorthodox move last week, AB110 (Blumenfield), a bill previously relating to the Revenue & Taxation Code, was completely gutted and amended. The “new” AB110 was drafted to contain provisions related to court budgetary items and included the 1203.01 PC amendments. The vote on this bill was expedited as part of the budget trailer package, and it was passed in both houses on Thursday, only days after it was introduced. This bill is now enrolled and awaiting the Governor’s signature before it becomes law.

The new statutory language deletes the requirement to send copies of all felony plea and sentencing transcripts to the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation upon commitment. Instead, only transcripts in cases where the sentence is “death or an indeterminate term with or without the possibility of parole” would be automatically provided. The amended statute includes language that provides for additional transcripts to be provided upon written request.

Although this appears to be a blow to reporter compensation, the amendment does not necessarily change the standing order in individual jurisdictions, but affects only the copies previously sent to state prison.  It is possible this amendment may precipitate changes in your individual court policy.  However, please follow the directions and orders of your court jurisdiction with regard to plea transcription.

You can read the statutory language with amendments below:
(more…)

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Passage of Bill Affects Filing of Plea Transcripts

Posted on July 20, 2011 by admin

In May we reported to you that the language in SB428 to change 1203.01 PC, regarding delivery of plea and sentencing transcripts, had been removed and the issue was pretty much dead – at least during this legislative session. Our reporter unions and associations had expressed their opposition which resulted in the 1203.01 amendments being removed from the Court Omnibus bill.

But in a bold and unorthodox move last week, AB110 (Blumenfield), a bill previously relating to the Revenue & Taxation Code, was completely gutted and amended. The “new” AB110 was drafted to contain provisions related to court budgetary items and included the 1203.01 PC amendments. The vote on this bill was expedited as part of the budget trailer package, and it was passed in both houses on Thursday, only days after it was introduced. This bill is now enrolled and awaiting the Governor’s signature before it becomes law.

The new statutory language deletes the requirement to send copies of all felony plea and sentencing transcripts to the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation upon commitment. Instead, only transcripts in cases where the sentence is “death or an indeterminate term with or without the possibility of parole” would be automatically provided. The amended statute includes language that provides for additional transcripts to be provided upon written request.

Although this appears to be a blow to reporter compensation, the amendment does not necessarily change the standing order in individual jurisdictions, but affects only the copies previously sent to state prison.  It is possible this amendment may precipitate changes in your individual court policy.  However, please follow the directions and orders of your court jurisdiction with regard to plea transcription.

You can read the statutory language with amendments below:
(more…)

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

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