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South Carolina Is Feeling The Pinch Of Court Reporter Shortage

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.”