There are multiple reports from across the country that court reporters are losing funding and retiring, leaving local courts to shutdown or resort to video recordings to fulfill their recording needs.
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The court system in McLean County, Illinois is experiencing a new shortage of court reporters as long time members of the system retire. Local Illinois news reports that 16 of 20 court reporter positions are filled in the five county circuit, which often leaves the circuit in a tough position.
The trial court administrator, William Scanlon, notes that this has been a growing problem for a while, with a full position being open for nearly three years now. “We have to tell someone on a regular basis that they’re not going to have a court reporter available,” he said.
Retired court reporters are still doing work in Rochester, Minnesota because of the shortage. David Lutzke still finds himself mired in work after his retirement. He is wading through months of recorded audio, creating official transcripts of cases that he was not able to finish before retirement.
The court reporter profession is not just under threat from retiring reporters; it’s also dying from lack of funding. The Illinois Senate recently passed a budget fix that restored funding to the court reporting program, fixing a problem with the lack of work for court reporters in the Lake County area and restoring court reporters from furlough status to full-time pay.
While waiting for the new budget to pass, court reporters were only allowed to work half the time they normally would. This resulted in some courtrooms being shutdown temporarily so that each case could be properly recorded.
Such problems come from retirement of current workers and low enrollment in schools that offer training for court reporting. These issues must be solved in order to allow justice to be served.