San Diego Superior Court Offers Incentives to Recruit & Retain Court Reporters
State Funding from SB 170/SB 154 to Provide Incentives to Current and New Certified Shorthand Court Reporters
With state funding available through SB 170/SB 154, the San Diego Superior Court announced today new incentives to recruit and retain official court reporters.
Amid a nationwide court reporter shortage, the San Diego Superior Court is losing far more court reporters to retirement each year than it can hire to replace them. Accordingly, the Court had to eliminate court reporters in family law in November 2021 in order to move court reporter staff to cover assignments in legally mandated criminal felony and juvenile proceedings.
“We recognize how important a verbatim record of a proceeding can be in ensuring access to justice and we appreciate the demanding level of concentration and effort it takes our court reporters to provide this important public service,” said Michael Roddy, Court Executive Officer. “We hope that these new incentives, made possible by funding from the Legislature, will increase interest in this career field and, in turn, increase our ability to provide court reporter services in family, probate and civil law cases.”
“Court reporters are critical to providing an accurate record and the San Diego Superior Court is recognizing that by spending State funding to incentivize hiring and retaining those who serve this critical role,” said Jennifer Esquivel, SEIU Local 221 labor union executive board member and Certified Shorthand Reporter. “Our collective action moves us closer to ensuring fair and equal access to justice for everyone.”
Incentives and benefits offered to the SEIU Local 221 – Court Reporters Union include:
- Signing bonus for newly hired regular court reporter employees
- For full-time court reporter employees, $15,000 upon completion of one month of employment; $15,000 upon completion of one year of active service.
- For part-time court reporter employees, $7,500 upon completion of one month of employment; $7,500 upon completion of one year of active service. Part-time employees who convert to full-time and complete a year of active service will be eligible for a $10,000 bonus and a further $5,000 upon completion of six months in a full-time position.
- Referral bonus for court reporter employees who recruit a successful newly hired full-time court reporter
- For a full-time referral, $3,750 to the referring court reporter employee upon completion of one month of employment by the new hire; $3,750 upon completion of one year of active service. For a part-time referral, the referral bonus payments will be $1,875.
- Retention bonus for currently active court reporter employees
- $7,000 to each court reporter who was actively employed by the San Diego Superior Court as of Dec. 31, 2022, and remains employed through April 1, 2023. Court reporter employees must confirm in writing that they intend to remain employed at the court through April 2024 to be eligible for the retention bonus.
- New part-time opportunities
- The Court will establish a new recruitment for part-time court reporter employees that offers half-day morning or half-day afternoon hours, a 3/2 schedule with three days on, two days off or a job share option.
- Technology stipend
- One-time lump sum stipend of $3,000 to each court reporter employee in May 2023 to provide for ongoing costs of software upgrades and equipment maintenance.
- Tuition reimbursement clarification
- The Court will expand its tuition reimbursement policy to clarify that it covers training at all Court Reporting schools including online voice writer training programs, not just at accredited colleges and universities.
To assist with recruitment efforts, the Court has committed to exploring options to send Court Reporters to various relevant conferences to enable in-person discussion with potential new candidates.
If the provisions of SB 170/SB 154 are extended beyond the current fiscal year, many of the incentives noted above will carry over to the next fiscal years.
A total of 19 court reporters are needed to adequately cover the mandatory criminal and juvenile cases. An additional 29 court reporters would need to be hired to minimally cover family law cases.
The current annual base salary range for court reporters in the San Diego Superior Court is $91,291.20 - $115,648.00, with additional income coming from transcript purchase fees paid directly to the court reporter. Additional premium pay is available for real-time skills and certain certificates. Benefits for all court employees include flexible benefits plan and 14 paid holidays each year, including the employee’s birthday. Employees entering in the court reporter class are eligible for 15 vacation days and 13 days of sick leave per year.
Verbatim records are relied on by litigants to review decisions, enforce judgments and preserve rights on an appeal to a higher court.
For more information on the court reporter employment opportunities, please refer to the current job posting. For more information on the San Diego Superior Court, please visit sdcourt.ca.gov.