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Officials' Update 1/23/03



Officials' Report on Current Status

by
Susie DeWitt

23 Jan 2003

It appears yesterday that the JBC has voted on a three-point plan to reduce the Judicial Branches expenses and increase judicial revenues. If all three points are implemented, the Judicial Branch will probably have done what is required to help balance the budget:

The plan includes the following:

1. The JBC voted to increase our furlough days from three additional days to five days - for a total of eight days this year.

2. The JBC voted to further reduce the Court Appointed Counsel rates by another $3 an hour.

3. The JBC voted to run a bill to increase docket fees by 50%.

As you can see, Court Reporters were not mentioned and it does not appear that their recommendation is to eliminate our jobs.

This does not, however, mean that changes will not occur. The committee that has been talked about will still meet and recommend changes that may still take place.

The committee has not to date met -- the urgency appears to not be as urgent at the moment -- it has been said that the committee meeting will happen in the next two months. At that time, it is my understanding, that issues will be discussed of ways to save the State additional moneys, via State transcripts.

We can breathe; but not relax. Our jobs will always be a point of discussion in the future unless we come up with a plan to stop the discussion forever. It is our hope that the committee that has been talked about will accomplish that goal.

We are one of the most expensive employees of the State. We know we are all worth it, but it is up to us to prove to State Judicial, Judges, attorneys, our fellow employees, the public, and everyone else that our jobs and how we perform them are critical and essential to the Judicial System.

There are ways we can do that now. We MUST turn our transcripts in on time, especially the appeal transcripts. This has been a continuous problem for several years, probably the length of our profession, and it makes us an easy target for discussions of elimination. Extensions are needed, on occasion, but we really cannot have transcripts that are several months and even years late. If you find yourself in a dilemma where you have fallen behind, talk to the other reporters in your district for help, hire a scopist, a proofreader, or hire someone to sit in your division while you work on transcripts. It is well worth the money you have to pay for this if only for your own mental health. The stress of knowing you have late transcripts is unbearable, I know, I've been there. This continuous problem is a real issue and we really need to work on it.

Realtime is the other area where we must shine. We can show our skills and indispensability by becoming realtime reporters. This can no longer be something we individually put off. We all heard Jerry Marroney tell us they were thinking of requiring us to become realtime certified within three years. If we start now and work on it, we can accomplish this goal on our own as a group without the requirement by SCAO and without the additional stress. Everyone single one of us should, at a minimum, be writing realtime to ourselves with a goal of having your judge hooked in within six months and the attorneys within two years. This is the future, whether it is voice to print by a machine or realtime by a live reporter. It's our choice. Let's make the right one.

It is great news that the JBC has not recommended to eliminate us, but we still have a lot of work to do. We must hold ourselves out to be the professionals we are and strive to be better and by doing so we will earn the respect that we all deserve.

Updates will continue to appear on the website as we receive them.

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

Susie DeWitt