The San Diego Superior Court has revealed plans to stop using court reporters in family law matters. The cut, which will take effect on Sept. 5, will include cases such as domestic violence restraining orders, divorce, and child custody.
For many, this move is very concerning. Court reporters provide a valuable service, keeping a clear record of everything spoken during the court case. To do this, court reporters work at speeds of up to 225 words per minute thanks to their special stenotype machines.
Now, individuals who would like to have a record of their court case will need to hire their own service, which can be quite expensive. One woman, who spoke to KUSI News anonymously, said that she has had to pay nearly $3,000 over the course of the past two months in order to ensure a court reporter is present.
“You need to have that record to prove later on, here’s what I’ve tried, this is what I said, this is what this other person said, especially if they’re writing one thing in a declaration, but they’re saying something else in the court,” the anonymous woman said.
State officials say that this is part of a larger reduction of services in the San Diego Superior Court. Other measures have included closing courtrooms, reducing staff, and even consolidating departments. These steps are being taken to address what is expected to be a minimum $6 million budget cut, according to the San Diego Union Tribune. Officials also note that $6 million is a conservative figure.
Several factors have been highlighted as contributing to the budget cuts. Among them are pension responsibilities and a reduced revenue for court. But the biggest factor has been a restructuring of the way California funds courts across the state. The plan was meant to create a more equitable funding but has proven troublesome for larger courthouses.
Many in the community are worried about the effects the cuts will have on the communities being served by the court house. After all, 41% of first marriages end in divorce, many of which are contentious.
“These changes impact some of the most vulnerable people we serve, including families in crisis,” Judge Jeffrey Barton, who serves on the San Diego Superior Court, recently told KUSI.
He noted that many of the judges oppose the reduction of services across the board, although he noted that there was little he or his fellow judges could do.
“The judges of the San Diego Superior Court do not want to make these service reductions,” Barton said. “Unfortunately, we have no choice.”