Covering the Courts

What Agency and Freelancers Need to Know

Saturday, June 2, 2012; 10:00-4:00 p.m.

LAX – hotel to be announced soon. Please watch our web site for details

Pricing: $99 DRA members - $149 nonmembers

The California court system is in crisis. Courtrooms across the state are closing due to lack of funding, and dozens of official court reporters have been laid off. In 2011, San Francisco Superior Court laid off 24 official court reporters, and in Los Angeles Superior Court alone, 56 courtrooms will be shut down. On May 15, the Los Angeles Superior Court will no longer provide court reporters for civil trials. In addition, after June 18, 2012, court reporters will be available for civil law-and-motion matters on a limited basis.

So what does this mean to freelancers and firm owners? While you might welcome an increased volume of calls from clients asking for a reporter in court, it’s not as simple as merely sending a reporter, producing the transcript in your freelance format, and charging freelance rates. There are strict rules governing court transcripts and page rates, and if you think they don’t apply to private reporters, think again.

“Freelancers should beware of rushing into a California state court without knowing applicable statutes.”

- Court Reporters Board of California, CRB Today newsletter

If you think…

you can work in L.A. courts without prior approval of the Court...

court rules and codes don’t apply to agencies or freelancers...

you can bill freelance rates for court work...

you can produce transcripts using your deposition format...

then you may be putting your license in jeopardy. Get the FACTS first!


• Transcript formatting, including transcripts on appeal and pagination

• What transcript rates the Government Code permits

• Scheduling/coordination – what you need to know when assigning reporters

• Court forms

• How the Court Reporters Board views private reporters covering court

• How to get approved to work in the Los Angeles court system

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Yes, Helen, there are at least 25 job offers going out a day all over the country.  Your area could easily be one.  Join the rest of us depo reporters making a nice chunk of change and having a life.  

This is probably a dumb question (but that's never stopped me before!), but does all of this apply to federal court as well?

There's a lot of "this" mentioned here.  Page rates are set nationally, whereas state-court rates vary, depending on the state.  Concerning salaries, benefits, per-dieming v. employee, challenging court employees, yes, applies to fed court as well.  Some may say fed court is worse, as the stress level is higher.  Same challenging court employees are there.  Do not know that fed court is laying off court reporters, seeking to hire per-diems only, expecting those reporters to be ready for readbacks on reporters' "off" days.  Fed court was smarter than that.  They realized they could not depend on the reliability of per-diems to be available when needed, so it's employee status for fed court.

Interesting ...!

Thanks, Deanna!

Federal Court rates for Central District of California

Central District covers Los Angeles, Orange County, and Riverside. Plus you get a per diem.

Federal court uses per diems very sparingly.  They don't have (don't want to pay) the money, so they make the staff reporters work harder.  Of course, it depends, district to district, but, generally, that's the case.  Fed court transcript deadlines are set in stone and are expected to be complied with.  Fed court has on-staff, employee reporters on whom they can count for excellent performance.  Only way to run a (government-agency) business!


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