Over the past decade, California’s court system has faced a fiscal crisis as a result of state funding cuts being enacted by legislators as they attempt to reduce the state’s $16 billion deficit. Let’s look at some results of cutbacks in the LA Court System.
The huge Los Angeles County court system was among the biggest losers, with $100 million in state support for the courts cut from the budget. These funding cuts in the Los Angeles County court system are still impacting the way the court system does business.
Among the changes that impacted the public was the lay-off of 60 official court reporters, a budget-cutting decision that transferred the responsibility of providing court reporters in civil trials from the county to lawyers.
The cutbacks in the Los Angeles court system affected 471 of their 4,700 employees, with 157 of those receiving layoff notices and the rest transferred to other jobs or reduced to part-time employment.
A total of 56 courtrooms were closed; 24 criminal courts, 11 juvenile traffic courts, and the rest civil courts. Court reporters were no longer available for civil trials in Los Angeles County, and 110 clerical, administrative and managerial positions were eliminated, which caused long lines for the public when paying traffic fines or filing civil suits.
These cuts were expected to reduce expenditures by $30 million and come on the heels of $70 million in budget reductions as the county struggled to absorb $100 million in funding cuts from the state and this also caused many new technologies to be used later here than in other parts of the country.
Court reporters were targeted for layoffs in a number of California counties as a response to budget cuts. San Francisco Superior Court laid off 24 official court reporters in 2011 and the results are still very noticeable. In Ventura and Los Angeles counties, court reporters are still no longer provided for civil trials. In addition, Los Angeles is providing court reporters for civil-law-and-motion matters on a limited basis.
In response to the cutbacks in county-provided court reporters, private court reporting agencies, firms and freelancers are gearing up to meet the needs of civil litigants who will now be required to bring their own court reporters to trial but the use of new apps have made things somewhat easier.
The Deposition Reporters Association of California hosted a seminar for private court reporters to familiarize them with the rules, codes and approval processes that apply to reporters working within the LA court system, helping them prepare to meet the increased demand.
Many agencies already employ court reporters who are certified to work in the Los Angeles County Courts. Many companies provide skilled court reporters, who know exactly how important good note-taking is, to many of the most prestigious law firms in Southern California.
These companies are well-prepared to pick up LA County’s slack, with professional teams of certified shorthand reporters immediately available to handle hearings, depositions, and trials.
These court reporters are highly-experienced trial reporters that are well-educated and qualified and adept in all the latest and the traditional technologies while paying impeccable attention to detail.