Supreme Court establishes new rules for court reporting

By Jim Boyle | Dec 5, 2014

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has adopted a comprehensive set of new rules

governing court reporting operations to standardize services provided to judges, lawyers and citizens in the state's 60 judicial districts.

According to a press release from the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC), the decision to replace the 33-year-old standards was driven by new technological advancements and a desire to standardize court reporting processes in districts across the state. The new rules aim to bring greater clarity to the uniform production, ownership and fees for official transcripts of court hearings and other proceedings. They will become effective June 1, 2015.

“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,” Chief Justice of Pennsylvania Ronald D. Castille said. “Implementing these new rules will provide numerous benefits to Pennsylvania’s citizens while helping to ensure a unified and efficient system of court reporting.”

The Supreme Court, through the Judicial Council of Pennsylvania and the AOPC, established an ad hoc advisory committee on court reporting and transcripts to develop the new rules.

Some of the new 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.

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