As previously reported, Los Angeles, Ventura and Alameda Counties and San Francisco will no longer provide court reporters on civil matters, hearings and trials. San Diego County is reported to be planning the same. Orange County is cutting back hours of clerk operations as well as reducing hours of operation of each branch.
Significant changes in the clerks office of each branch has already affected how our office files documents and plan the effective conduct of our cases. While we can count on our attorney services to deliver documents to the court on a same day basis, shortages of clerks and changes in policy usually mean that the documents are now "received" but not filed immediately. Heaven forbid the clerk rejects your filing for some perceived minor flaw and we wouldn’t know that the documents weren’t filed for weeks.
So, before I repeat my standard, "private arbitration is beginning to look better and better to me," I have to ask some questions:
- Why can't the courts go to a audio/video recording system for hearings and trials. The technology is available and no longer than sophisticated. It seems that this can serve as a very practical solution to the cost factor of court reporters. If you still want a transcript of the recording, the audio or video can be transcribed by a certified court reporter both during and after the hearing or trial.
- I do have a concern that civil resolution of disputes is becoming more and more a privilege of the wealthy. For many years, I have recognized that obtaining adequate representation of civil disputes is available only for those who can afford to hire a good lawyer. It's not just a good lawyer, but a good lawyer who can spend the time; attention and detail to the client's best interest to fully and adequately represent the client. When the client can't afford to pay you, which is easier said than done. Now with court services and availability being cut back due to budgetary shortfalls, civil process is less available, even to those who can afford a lawyer. Now, while arbitration has always been an alternative, now it will become a more sought after venue in which civil trials will be conducted in private courts, paid for by the more, well to do parties.
So, with an obvious concern that we are moving more and more to an elitist civil justice hierarchy, why am I suggesting that real estate parties seriously consider resolving the disputes by arbitration? Well, the answer is simple. Time is money and if you want your disputes resolved in the quickest fashion possible, you have no choice but to consider arbitration.
Now before all those trained mediators get all up in arms over this post, I really don't mean to leave out mediation as a reasonable alternative to litigation or arbitration. I think all reasonable means should be explored by the parties to resolve their dispute, which means should include informal settlement efforts or formal mediation. However, not all disputes can be resolved amicably, which is why there are courts and arbitrators.
For more discussion on this topic, go to my post, California Courts Take Another Budget Blow – Time for Collaborative Arbitration, Finally?
Credit should be given to my favorite court reporter, Jilio-Ryan in Tustin, California.