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Archive for July, 2018

South Carolina Is Feeling The Pinch Of Court Reporter Shortage

Posted on: July 30th, 2018 by Sfl Media No Comments

The shortage of court reporters is being felt in Horry County, South Carolina, and Bobbi Fisher of Myrtle Beach, who works as a court reporter in Horry County’s Family Court, says she’s afraid  that when her generation leaves the courtroom there won’t be anyone to replace them.

Ginny Jones, spokesperson for the S.C. Judicial Department, said that since fewer people are entering the profession and the numbers of new court reporters hasn’t kept up with retirements, machines are the obvious choice to remedy the problem.

She said the South Carolina Court Administration is already experimenting with digital recorders.

“In January 2018, the S.C. Supreme Court issued an order for a Digital Courtroom Recorder Project,” Jones told The Horry Independent. “This proven technology, which is operated in courtrooms by trained staff, is now capturing the record effectively in five courtrooms and is coming to more this year.”

But Jones went on to note that technology is not replacing human court reporters where they are available.

“It is important to note that we view digital recording as a supplement to court reporting; it has never replaced an existing court reporter, nor do we intend for it to.”

If no court reporters are available, the courts are more likely to take plea bargains over trials. Defendants who opt for a trial will have to wait until the proper staff is available.

South Carolina Senator Greg Hembree called the court reporter shortage a “huge” problem.

“Yes, it is a huge problem, especially in Family Court,” he said. “We’ve got judges that can’t hold court because they don’t have court reporters.”

He said the government is willing to increase court reporter salaries if  need be.

He calls letting machines help with recording court proceedings “a good experiment” but said, “In the meantime, we’ve got cases that are not getting heard.”

San Diego Asks For Funding For More Court Reporters

Posted on: July 23rd, 2018 by Sfl Media No Comments

The Judicial Council in San Diego has added an amendment to its budget asking for funding for court reporters when poor people qualify for fee waivers under the recent Supreme Court ruling.

The funding will cover a verbatim record obtained through court reporting, electronic recording or some other means.

The high court’s ruling in Jameson v. Desta earlier this month affirmed an indigent litigant’s right to have a free court reporter in a civil trial. The Supreme Court said an accurate trial record is especially important in the appeal stage of a case.

“While we don’t know the scope of that budget obligation at this stage, we know that it will become one,” said council member Judge David Rubin of San Diego, chair of the Judicial Branch Budget Committee.

Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye wrote in the court’s unanimous decision, “Without an exception for fee waiver recipients, the policy at issue here places indigent civil litigants at a significant disadvantage with respect to the right of appeal compared to those litigants who can afford to pay for a private shorthand reporter,” Courthouse News reported.

Some judges requested language allowing for other ways to record proceedings besides court reporters, anticipating a potential shortage of court reporters in the future.

“I’m not necessarily advocating that we switch to electric recording for all proceedings, but it is something that maybe we should be looking at as we begin to propose budgets that are years from now,” said Judge Stuart Rice of Los Angeles, outgoing president of the California Judges Association.

The Supreme Court’s ruling does not limit recording to court reporters, and the Council noted there are “many technologies out there that will convert voice to text.”

“This is certainly not meant to say, ‘Hey, we are now against court reporters,’” Rice said. “We just want to be able to make sure that as we move forward we have the ability to provide access, provide a verbatim record, by whatever means the future holds for us.”

Judge Marla Anderson of Monterey County said the proposal should be for “an inclusive world that includes court reporters as well as any means of getting a verbatim record.”

Cantil-Sakauye said,“There is no ill-will toward court reporters. It is a nod to the future if need be for the courts.”

Poor Californians Win Right To Court Reporters

Posted on: July 16th, 2018 by Sfl Media No Comments
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The California Supreme Court has ruled everyone is entitled to a court reporter in that state.

The California Supreme Court has enshrined the right to a private court reporter in civil cases, whether they can afford one or not.

Judges on the court ruled unanimously that everyone is entitled to a verbatim record of their proceeding. The ruling is a reaction to cost-cutting in San Diego County that deprived some civil litigants of the services of a court reporter.

According to Courthouse News Service:

“By precluding an indigent litigant from obtaining the attendance of an official court reporter (to which the litigant would be entitled without payment of a fee), while at the same time preserving the right of financially able litigants to obtain an officially recognized pro tempore court reporter, the challenged court policy creates the type of restriction of meaningful access to the civil judicial process that the relevant California in forma pauperis precedents and legislative policy render impermissible,” Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye wrote. “Accordingly, we conclude that the court policy in question is invalid as applied to plaintiff and other fee waiver recipients, and that an official court reporter, or other valid means to create an official verbatim record for purposes of appeal, must generally be made available to in forma pauperis litigants upon request.”

The ruling acknowledges the importance of a verbatim record from a qualified court reporter in such issues as appeals.

Michael Shipley, who argued the case before the California Supreme Court on behalf of Barry Jameson, a prison inmate who brought the suit, said, “I practice in state court all the time for nonindigent litigants and we’re all sensitive to the fact that the courts don’t have unlimited amounts of money. But the court was clear that the solution to that problem cannot exist to deny access to justice for poor litigants. Access to justice is a huge civil rights issue and we had 40 different organizations that either filed or joined amicus briefs because this issue was affecting in a negative way all kinds of people’s rights to petition the government for redress of their grievances.”


Court Reporters Aren’t The Only Ones Who Need To Embrace Tech

Posted on: July 9th, 2018 by Sfl Media No Comments

Legal firms embrace technology.

Technology seems to be changing every aspect of the legal system, from court reporting to law offices. In fact, some court reporting firms such as CourtScribes are leading the way in technology, and some law offices need to do some catching up.

A recent article in LawFuel outlines some of the reasons lawyers need to jump aboard the tech bandwagon. Here’s a look at a few of those reasons.

Clients expect cost savings

Technology is helping to drive down the cost and increase the quality of many services. We’ve found that to be true for court reporting, and it’s also true for lawyers.

According to LawFuel, “Customers know that technology is creating savings in time and money for lawyers and they expect those savings to be passed on. Clients want to experience the savings. The expectation from clients is that they want to see their lawyers doing the heavy lifting, but don’t want to pay for routine work.”

Accuracy is more important than ever

As CourtScribes shows in court reporting with its capacity for creating accurate, verbatim records combined with video and cloud technology, the demands for excellence only grow with technological improvements.

“When your clients have the whole internet at their fingertips they will have higher expectations for you. In a world where knowledge is everywhere, it’s important to preserve high standards of accuracy and precision,” the LawFuel editors write.

Technology doesn’t mean just one thing

CourtScribes has embraced a range of technology in order to become a leader in court reporting. Lawyers who want to be successful in the current age need to do something very similar.

According to LawFuel, “The future of technology is speculative, but rapidly changing, and all successful firms need to leverage technology in the delivery of legal services – predictive analytics in law, rule systems, matter standards in law firms, legal education reform, and customer perspectives.”

Shortage Of Court Reporters Plays Out Across Country

Posted on: July 2nd, 2018 by Sfl Media No Comments
Court reporters

Court reporters are missing from many courtrooms.

Courthouses across the country are lacking some key people as court reporters reach retirement age without replacements.

That’s just what has happened in Macon County, Illinois, when a court reporter there retired, according to the local newspaper, the Herald & Review. The paper reports that the lack of court reporters is playing out across Illinois.

According to the newspaper:

A snapshot of the problem: There are job openings listed online for court reporters, or stenographers, in 11 of the state’s 24 judicial circuits, and officials say that may not cover every opening in the state. Illinois had 506 licensed court reporters as of January 2017, and 136 of those were eligible for retirement, according to data from the court reporting division of the Administrative Office of Illinois Courts.

“We definitely need a new generation to come in,” said Kathryn Thomas, president of the Illinois Court Reporter Association, which has more than 300 members.

The shortage of court reporters has officials such as Winnebago, Ill., County Judge Eugene Doherty concerned, according to television station WREX.

The station reports:

“We are concerned.  Of that 500 we’re looking at maybe half of them or more being replaced in the next ten years,” says Chief Judge Doherty.

As the current workforce prepares to retire, court systems like Winnebago County are working to recruit the next generation of workers…

“A court reporter has to keep up with a lot of things and we rely on them and their skill in order to make sure that record is accurate,” says Doherty.

Firms such as CourtScribes are growing, though, thanks to a combination of technology and highly-trained traditional stenographers.

We pride ourselves on creating completely accurate verbatim transcripts, no matter how chaotic the environment. The best way to do that is through hiring the best court reporters and combining them with unique, powerful, industry-leading technology.