Joint statement by GSRA and GCCRA

From the President Comments Off on Joint statement by GSRA and GCCRA

Joint statement by GSRA and GCCRA regarding civil rules proposal


To: Court Reporting Matters Committee
CC: Judicial Council

Joint statement by GCCRA and GSRA on the proposed civil fee schedule

We, the leadership of the associations that represent all certified court reporters across the State of Georgia, respectfully request the Committee abandon the recently proposed changes to the fee schedule regarding civil cases. We feel strongly that critical information in connection with the various types of civil proceedings held in Georgia courts has not been considered and Georgia court reporters, one of the major stakeholder groups affected by the changes, had no opportunity to provide input about the practical implications of the potential changes until the public comment period.

Elimination of the hourly takedown rate will adversely impact courts that hear civil matters all over Georgia. Hourly takedown is the level playing field currently available to civil litigants in lieu of hiring their own reporter and paying a court attendance fee for every case. It approximates a fair market value of a reporter’s time, attention, and record retention services. We can see no compelling reason for the Committee to reduce compensation to reporters covering these particular hearings.

While transcripts are legally required to be produced to protect due process rights in criminal cases, in civil litigation transcripts are infrequently ordered. The negative consequences unleashed by the adoption of this language include confusion in the amounts to be charged by reporters to litigants, undue burden upon court systems that utilize per diem reporters to cover civil calendars, delay in the production of civil and criminal transcripts due to drastically increased workloads, and requirement of counties to pay for substitute and part-time reporters to help with the new caseload.

Further, abolition of the daily rate and the copy page rate for court attendance with realtime feed to be replaced by a modestly increased court appearance harms the most highly skilled professionals in our industry. Realtime is the gold standard in record creation offered solely by advanced court reporters. Its role in some of the most complex litigation in our system of justice should be incentivized and those who develop the capability to deliver it rewarded; this proposal accomplishes the opposite.

Additionally, the elimination of the copy page rate for exhibits hinders the work of court reporters as they are often tasked with reproducing exhibits at their own cost. This is specifically cumbersome for reporters covering habeas corpus proceedings, where the number of exhibit pages can range into the thousands.

It is our belief that these proposed changes are unworkable and counterproductive. If the civil fee schedule truly requires updating, we will be happy to provide further input from our members’ many years of experience serving the Georgia judiciary. We desire to be a resource to the Court Reporting Matters Committee and the Judicial Council in crafting any reforms that would improve courtroom productivity and efficiency.

Sincerely,

The boards of directors of Georgia Certified Court Reporters Association and Georgia Shorthand Reporters Association