Monday, February 8, 2010

Changing Times for Making the Record

The Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA) has issued perhaps the most hard-hitting white paper that I've seen, as this excerpt will show:

If court administrators were to describe the current model for creating the verbatim court record to anyone unfamiliar with court operations, would their confidence in the court system's efficient use of staff and technological resources be lessened? What would they say if they learned that thousands of staff are assigned to individual courtrooms to make this manual record even though few cases are appealed? How might they react if they learned that the manual recording of those proceedings is made in a media that could be interpreted into written English only by the individual making the record? How would we explain that in most states the recording is the property of the employee and not the court? What reason would we provide for the fact many employees receive a fee beyond their government salary from litigants requiring transcription for appeal purposes and that the timely preparation of these records is not under a court’s control? How would we explain that public access to the official court record can be obtained only by paying this fee to a public employee? If this process were complicated by the declining supply of reporters and by the current economic crisis, how would we respond to their questions on how we intend to improve and strengthen the business of creating, producing, and maintaining the court record? These questions demonstrate that change is necessary.

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