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Officials' Update 3/04/03

 

Officials' Report on Current Status

by
Susie DeWitt
4 Mar 2003

Barb Birger and I attended the Audit Review Hearing this morning at 7:30 a.m. when the " Report of the State Auditor" was released and discussed.

Chapter 3, "Court Reporter and Transcript Cost" has three recommendations consisting of:

"Recommendation No. 14: The Judicial Department should review the current system for compensating court reporters, evaluate various methods, and report on and make recommendations for implementing the most cost-effective method of compensation. This should include:

a. Adopting a method to track transcripts prepared in-house and eliminate any overlap in compensation for transcripts prepared during normal business hours:

b. Requiring court reporters to submit annual income attestation documents, compiling and analyzing these documents, and adjusting court reporter salaries as necessary:"

Judicial Department Response:

"Agree. To be implemented by March 2003. At the request of the Chief Justice, the office of the State Court Administrator, last fall, began an evaluation of various methods of court reporting and a review of court reporter compensation, including transcripts. We will present a report to the Joint Budget Committee regarding these matters in March, and will also send a copy to the Office of the State Auditor."

 




 

"Recommendation No. 15: The Judicial Department should conduct an analysis of the various methods of court reporting used both nationwide and in Colorado to determine which is the most cost-effective and reliable."

Judicial Department Response:

"Agree. To be implemented by March 2003. As noted in our response to Recommendation No. 14, we are in the process of completing this analysis and will submit a copy of our report to the Office of the State Auditor in March."

 


 

"Recommendation No. 16: The Judicial Department should reassess the current transcript fee structure by:

a. Evaluating the rates set for transcript originals and copies including the purpose for the revenue generated by the transcript fee.

b. Evaluating the feasibility of setting rates based on methods other than a per page rate.

c. Evaluating the transcript fee and fee revenue in conjunction with an evaluation of court reporter compensation."

Judicial Department Response:

"Agree. To be implemented by March 2003. As noted in our response to Recommendation No. 14, we are in the process of reviewing transcript fees and will submit a copy of our report to the Office of the State Auditor in March."

As you can see from reading the excerpts from the report, we still are unclear exactly what our future holds for us.

 


 

A few of Jerry Marroney's comments consisted of the following:

On page 70 of the report, they talk about a Canadian study where they charge using a "volume of text" method rather than the page rate method. Richard Matt and I sent Jerry, in the form of an ASCII, five transcripts to run through this Canadian software to compare the costs. We sent to him criminal, civil, juvenile, water, and domestic cases. Three of the five transcripts would have been more expensive if charged using the volume of text method instead of our $2.35 per page rate and the two would have been within $25.

Reporters have not received a page rate increase since 1996 at which time was $.10 per page. To date, Colorado's page per rate is third or fourth from the bottom.

Jerry stressed the importance of real time reporters and the benefits it provides to judges, attorneys, clerks, and the backlog of transcripts particularly to the Court of Appeals. He spoke about tying the real time into ICON, which would have numerous benefits for the judicial system. He stated, "The best mechanism is real time…"

He stated that he has checked into the State purchasing all equipment and therefore the State receiving all transcript monies from reporters and informed the legislators that that is "too expensive." An alternative to this could possibly be taking the State transcript monies and allowing us to charge for private transcripts and continue to purchase and maintain our own equipment.

After the hearing Jerry spoke briefly to Barb, Betsy (lobbyist), and myself. He has a report that is due to the Joint Budget Committee Analyst by the end of March.

He has set a meeting for next week consisting of four chief judges, district administrators, Barb Birger, Richard Matt, Betsy Clark, Joyce Martin, and myself to discuss the drafts for review and input to be made to the JBC analyst at the end of March.

Keep in mind that our State budget deficit could possibly reach $1 billion dollars and cuts are not just happening to us. Layoffs and cuts are happening throughout the entire state.

We will do our best to keep you immediately informed of any information we learn next week.

Thank you.

Please feel free to call (303-441-3749) or email me if you have additional questions or concerns.

Susie DeWitt