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Jameson v. Desta

Filed 7/5/18 IN THE SUPREME COURT OF CALIFORNIA BARRY S. JAMESON, ) ) Plaintiff and Appellant, ) ) S230899 v. ) ) Ct.App. 4/1 D066793 TADDESE DESTA, ) ) San Diego County Defendant and Respondent. ) Super. Ct. No. GIS9465 ____________________________________) Under California’s in forma pauperis doctrine and Government Code section 68086, subdivision (b),1 a person who because of limited financial resources qualifies for a waiver of initial court filing fees is entitled, as well, to a waiver of fees for the attendance of an official court reporter at a hearing or trial. In this case, however, although plaintiff Barry Jameson (hereafter plaintiff) was entitled to a waiver of official court reporter attendance fees, plaintiff was not provided the opportunity to have a court reporter at his civil trial because the San Diego Superior Court, in response to a significant reduction of its judicial budget, had adopted a policy under which the court did not make official court reporters available at most civil trials even for persons who qualified for a fee waiver. 1 Unless otherwise specified, statutory references are to the Government Code. For convenience, section 68086, subdivision (b) shall hereafter be referred to as section 68086(b). 1 Instead, the applicable superior court policy provided that a court reporter would be present in civil actions to record the trial proceedings only if a private court reporter was hired and paid for by a party or the parties to the litigation.2 In the present case, plaintiff could not afford to pay for a private court reporter and defendant Taddese Desta chose not to hire or pay for a private court reporter. The trial court entered a nonsuit against the plaintiff after plaintiff’s opening statement to the jury and plaintiff appealed from the judgment. Because no court reporter was present at plaintiff’s trial, no reporter’s transcript of the trial 2 A number of other states have addressed the significant financial cost associated with the use of court reporters by authorizing courts to utilize electronic recording as a means of generating an officially recognized verbatim record of trial court proceedings that can be relied upon on appeal. (See Nat. Center for State Courts, Making the Record: Utilizing Digital Electronic Recording (Sept. 2013) pp. 7-8 [listing states].) In California, however, current legislation restricts the use of electronic recording to generate an official certified verbatim record of trial court proceedings, as an alternative to a court reporter, to limited civil actions (those involving claims under $25,000 (Code Civ. Proc., § 85)) and criminal proceedings involving misdemeanors or infractions. (See § 69957, subd. (a); see also Code Civ. Proc. § 273, subd. (c).) A 2017 report of the Commission on the Future of California’s Court System (Futures Commission) contains an informative discussion of recent technological advances in digital recording of court proceedings and of the considerable potential benefits, both economic and otherwise, of such technology for parties, courts, and the judicial system as a whole. (See Futures Com., Report to the Chief Justice (2017) pp. …
Original document
Source: California Supreme Court