On a hot afternoon in September, Superior Court Judge Paula S. Rosenstein sat from her bench at the Family Law Court downtown and conducted the day’s business. Clerks took notes from their desks and moved throughout the courtroom, handing documents to Judge Rosenstein. A bailiff held a clipboard, whispering to a man and woman, making sure they were there for the hearing. An attorney spoke for his client who sat beside him, silent and tense. And in the corner to the left of the judge’s bench, sat a small desk and chair.
One month earlier, a court reporter would have sat there with a stenotype machine, recording everything said during the hearing. But the desk and chair remained empty.
That’s because the San Diego Superior Court is no longer providing court reporters for family law proceedings.
Court reporters are responsible for creating an exact record of what was said during hearings, depositions and trials. Not having a court reporter present in court means there is no verbatim, written record of the proceedings.
The court reporter cuts, which went into effect Sept. 5, are drawing concern from local family law attorneys who say the changes will hurt low-income and middle-income individuals.
Since many people who go through the family courts cannot afford a lawyer — in two-thirds of all family law cases in San Diego, at least one party will not have legal representation — hiring a court reporter is often out of the picture.