Letter From Ventura: Court Access Being Denied

News outlets statewide are documenting the installment-plan crisis that is California courts funding, including a recent report by Raul Hernandez in the Ventura County Star. Presiding Judge Brian Back and Michael Planet, the Superior Court’s executive officer, told a lunch gathering in Oxnard that their “rainy day fund” is virtually gone, going from $7 million to around $300,000 while dealing with cuts, the paper said.
Ventura County is noted as the 14th largest court system in the state and eighth in terms of cases filed. It is first in civil cases under $25,000. How dire is it getting? Among the “solutions” being considered, they say, is cutting juries from 12 people to six. And those running the courts make it clear that access to justice is being denied as self-help programs and other access programs are being dismantled.

The Star story is here.

Paper: Move to Electronic Court Reporting

The Sun-Star newspaper in Merced is among those calling for electronic court reporting for California, an idea not exactly popular with human court reporters. In an editorial, the paper notes that “… court reporters are a strange hybrid of government employee and private entrepreneur. Even though they are paid by the court to make the official court record, once that record is produced, they own it. The court or the parties involved in litigation have to purchase it from them at a price (85 cents per 100 words) set in statute.
The report also notes thatCalifornia courts spend $24 million to purchase trial court transcripts from their paid employees (and) “… the union that represents court reporters argues that these trained stenographers are cheaper and more reliable and accurate than electronic recordings. Strong evidence and real court experience dispute that.”

At issue are non-civil cases. Civil actions already require that the parties involved pay for their recorders. Read the entire Sun-Star position here.