Can you believe that this t-shirt actually exists?[fn.3] We are deeply troubled by the trial court’s policy of conducting all family law matters without a reporter unless a reporter is engaged by one or both parties at their own expense. This policy is actually codified in a local rule stating, “The family court does not provide a court reporter in family law matters, except when possible a reporter will be provided for DCSS and restraining order matters. If you would like to have a court reporter present you will need to hire and pay all costs associated with the reporter.” (Super. Ct. Santa Cruz County, Local Rules, rule 3.7.01.) As illustrated by this case, the absence of a verbatim record can preclude effective appellate review, cloaking the trial court’s actions in an impregnable presumption of correctness regardless of what may have actually transpired. Such a regime can raise grave issues of due process as well as equal protection in light of its disparate impact on litigants with limited financial means. The practice becomes all the more troubling when viewed in combination with the statewide prohibition against privately recording court proceedings “for any purpose other than as personal notes.” (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 1.150(d).) Perhaps the time has come at last for California to enter the twentieth (sic) century and permit parties to record proceedings electronically in lieu of the far less reliable method of human stenography and transcription. Until that day, however, we believe the right to effective appellate review cannot be permitted to depend entirely on the means of the parties. We refrain from addressing the issue further here only because the parties have neither raised a claim of error nor made a record of prejudice with respect to the court’s failure to furnish a reporter.
|Yes, Let's Go Electronic...|