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Facing 29 court reporter vacancies, San Bernardino Superior Court is prioritizing court reporters to handle eviction cases above other civil cases.

Court reporters take an official record of court proceedings, which are needed to appeal a case. Reporters employed by the court are required to record felony and juvenile cases, but are not required to cover civil cases.

If a court reporter is not available to cover a criminal hearing, the hearing is delayed until one is available. If a court-employed court reporter is not available for a civil hearing, parties may either employ one from the private sector for a higher cost, or lose an official record of events.

“Available court reporters are unable to routinely cover non-mandated case types, including civil cases. Official court reporters are not normally available for reporting trials in unlimited cases,” Presiding Judge Glenn Yabuno’s Dec. 7 order  reads.

Yabuno’s order says that eviction cases will take the highest priority when assigning any court reporter who is not tied up with criminal and juvenile cases.

After eviction, cases will be prioritized by those over 5 years old, and then by the oldest civil case.

The order also says that cases not provided with an official court reporter may be delayed with good cause until a private court reporter is hired.

San Bernardino Superior Court employs 73 court reporters and has 29 vacancies, making a 28% vacancy rate, according to Julie Van Hook, court public information officer.

The shortage is nationwide.

Riverside Superior Court has 71.5 filled court reporter positions and 14 vacancies, making a 16% vacancy rate, according to Marita Ford, Riverside Superior Court public information officer.  A Jan. 25 report for the California Trial Court Consortium said that courts across the state, on average, have 19% vacancy rates for their court reporter positions.

A Nov. 2 letter from California’s Superior Courts recommended California allow audio recordings in civil courtrooms and remote court reporters, including those who are certified in states other than California.
A Nov. 10 Judicial Council report recommended California reduce the shortage by allowing remote court reporting, and by establishing grants to support the education of future court reporters.
Read the order here.

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