The California Court of Appeal recently ruled to restrict what private court reporters may charge in court.

| by Heather Duncan, Esq.

Until 2011, California state courts had official court reporters available for most hearings and trials. The court reporters were employees of the courts and the fees they could charge for official court transcripts were mandated by Article 9 of the California Government Code. 

In response to the 2011 California budget crisis, the California State Legislature trimmed its support for the court system and eliminated court reporters provided by the courts for civil trials. Since the initial cuts in San Francisco, Alameda and Los Angeles, other courts have followed. The result is that parties themselves are now responsible for providing their own reporters for most civil matters.

The Court Reporters Board of California issued an opinion on May 14, 2012 stating that Government Code Sections under Article 9 were applicable to all reporters working in the courts.  However, many private court reporting firms and court reporters disagreed, arguing that Article 9 fees provisions did not apply to private pro tem reporters because they were not specifically “officials of the court.”

In the recently published decision of Burd v. Barkley, the Court of Appeal reaffirmed the opinion of The Court Reporters Board of California and reversed the opinion of the lower court.  The Court of Appeal held that privately retained reporters who serve as official reporters pro tempore do so under appointment by the superior court and are therefore subjected to the fees mandated by the Government Code. 

Hopefully, the recent ruling will clear up some of the confusion and chaos associated with the charges for court reporters in the courts.

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