California Court Reporters Association CCRA Goes To Battle Against Electronic Reporting
Reprinted from a CCRA email:
On April 9, representatives from CCRA's DR Task Force, CCRA President Lesia Mervin and CCRA past president Tom Pringle, testified before the Senate Budget Subcommittee meeting in regards to the Legislative Analyst Office's (LAO's) budget proposal for DR in California courtrooms.
Prior to the meeting, our team had set in motion a strategic plan that included meeting with these subcommittee members in their local offices. Included in the information distributed to the committee was a report commissioned by CCRA providing an independent analysis of digital reporting in the California courts, prepared by Chris Crawford of Justice Served.
The Crawford Report pointed out many of the fallacies that DR is more efficient and cost effective, including the loss of the $26 million civil user-fee revenue the courts charge for the use of a court reporter in civil hearings; loss of $11 million in civil court reporter filing fees; accuracy and integrity of the record; and the myth that reviewing DR files, in lieu of the written word, would be more efficient.
A representative from the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), including Executive Director William Vickery, made representations at the meeting outlining the AOC's desire to maintain reporters in all felony trial matters, stating, in part:
..realtime reporting has improved significantly and has been a major asset to the justice system, I would urge felony trial matters be excluded from the discussion.
Mr. Vickery further indicated that no cost savings could be achieved by replacing reporters with DR in civil courts due to the civil court reporter user fee and filing fee charged to the litigants that pay the costs for reporters in civil courts; however, it was his opinion:
...cost savings could be achieved by replacing reporters in juvenileand family law matters.
The next area where the AOC believes they can achieve cost savings is ownership of the record.
If the state owns [the transcript], then you have to pay the reporter to prepare it on state time, but there probably is some savings there. I think that's a different policy issue than the policy decision to eliminate court reporting in total from the court system.
The budget committee voted to hold open the item for further discussion pending further information.
The next hearing will be held April 23rd with the Assembly Budget Subcommittee, where the same process will occur again.
CCRA will once again be on hand to offer testimony to rebut the LAO's report and recommendation.
In the meantime, CCRA's task force will be working diligently to gather the information necessary to rebut the assertion that a cost savings could be achieved by taking ownership of the record away from the reporters, and the assertion that family law and juvenile reporters are not a necessary function of the court system.
CCRA will be meeting with staff from each of the Assembly subcommittee members before the hearing to educate them about the Crawford report and the information we've gathered.
Watch the ER page of CCRA's Web site often to stay updated on the progress of this issue.
A big thank you goes to all of you who have participated at the grassroots level by meeting with their legislators in their local offices, and thanks also to those that have been so generous in your donations to the Special Fund! Keep those donations coming! To donate, click here.
To view the full video of the proceedings click here.
LAO testimony starts at 59:00
Vickery testimony starts at 1:02
CCRA Testimony starts at 2:06
To view the entire transcript, click here.
Friday, April 18, 2008