A press release from the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC), ordered to replace 33-year-old court reporting rules. The new rules aim to bring clarity to the production procedure, fees for official transcripts and ownership.

There has been a desire to standardize court reporting processes in districts around the state Pennsylvania for many years now. The new court reporting rules are set to go into effect Jun 1, 2015 and will affect each of the commonwealth’s 60 judicial districts.

The existing set of court reporting rules has been in place since 1981 and even then were driven by technological advancements as athedesire to unify court reporting processes across the state.

“These rules were carefully crafted in a partnership among the state’s trial judges, court administrators and court reporting professionals to reflect significant changes in technology. Implementing these new rules will provide numerous benefits to Pennsylvania’s citizens while helping to ensure a unified and efficient system of court reporting.” Chief Justice of Pennsylvania Ronald D. Castille said.

Some of the new court reporting rules include:

  • Establishing uniform maximum fees for transcripts. The committee found a wide disparity in the fees charged for transcripts.
  • Reducing — or waiving — fees for litigants who are unable to pay for them.
  • Encouraging the use of electronic transcripts, designed to reduce transcript costs and enhance the quality and timeliness of the transcripts. District court administrators will monitor how promptly transcripts are produced.
  • Directing transcript payments directly to the court rather than to the court reporter. The counties will have the discretion to determine the amount of transcript fees to be paid to court reporting personnel.
  • Creating comprehensive formats for transcription that mirror federal court standards. The committee found discrepancies in margins, indents and lines per page that resulted in more pages and higher costs in some counties.
  • Establishing standardized qualifications and responsibilities for court reporters, recorders and transcriptionists, including their duties as officers of the court.
  • Authorizing the redaction of personal identifying information from transcripts to preserve privacy and security.
  • Expediting cases requiring priority (e.g., Children’s Fast Track appeals).
  • Clarifying ownership of the transcripts as property of the court, rather than individual court reporters, and designating a place for filing and storage.

(A complete copy of the new rules can found on the Pennsylvania Judiciary’s website )

order – http://www.pacourts.us/assets/opinions/Supreme/out/436jad.pdf?cb=1

rules – http://www.pacourts.us/assets/opinions/Supreme/out/436jad-attach.pdf?cb=1

Recently In a blog I discussed three court reporters who allegedly stole nearly $500,000 from a Georgia County court by incorrectly formatting documents and charging for non-existing pages. Pennsylvania has seen the error in the system and is working to solve it. We will keep an eye on other states that might choose to follow suit in the future.