July 20, 2009 By Wayne Hanson
An old battle between court reporters and the use of electronic recording technology has been re-ignited by the California budget crisis.
California, in addressing its $24 billion budget deficit, is looking for new ways to cut expenditures amid a political battle over raising taxes. Among cost-curtting measures proposed by Governor Schwarzenegger in a recent news release is a proposal to phase in electronic court reporting in county superior courts. Electronic court reporting would save $100 million annually, according to the Governor's Office.
The National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) says it will fight what it calls "a series of ongoing attacks against court reporters including the Legislative Analyst's Office's proposal to replace official court reporters with digital recording and repeated attempts to do away with the California Court Reporting Board."
The California Court Reporters Association is likewise fighting the governor's proposal, and in a June letter to Governor Schwarzenegger said, "The Administrative Office of the Courts is not in favor of replacing reporters with recording devices. Neither are judges. While electronic recording is now being used in low volume transcript courts, the AOC has repeatedly stated that using digital devices in felony and civil cases, family law, and trials involving sexually violent predators is simply 'too risky.' After removing these high volume transcript courts from the LAO's proposal, the state will save nothing."
The Legislative Analyst's Office said, in a statement that a multi-year study found that audio and video recording of court proceedings saved between $28,000 to $42,000 per year per courtroom.