- Associated Press - Saturday, October 10, 2015

WOODSTOCK, Ill. (AP) - Courts across Illinois have been dealing with a shortage of court reporters, but not in McHenry County, where officials made an early decision to equip courtrooms with computerized recording systems.

“We’ve used technology to streamline the process and are much more efficient, so we’re able to provide more services, and better services, using fewer people,” Court Administrator Dan Wallis, with the 22nd Judicial Circuit, said.

McHenry County operates with seven court reporters and an electronic recording officer.

But all but one of the circuit’s 18 courtrooms has built-in systems that record everything said to hard drives with backups. Two felony courtrooms always have a court reporter for immediate access to a transcript, while less serious cases are recorded and court reporters transcribe specific parts if a judge or attorneys request it.

“Rather than transcribing everything or taking the stenography, we’re able to identify requests made for what has to be transcribed,” Wallis said.

Other circuits have implemented or are starting to implement similar recording systems, The (Crystal Lake) Northwest Herald reported (https://bit.ly/1Lohmef ).

Court officials in Illinois have previously it could be difficult to fill vacancies due to the older average age of current court reporters.

Tammy Bumgarner, director of court reporting services for the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts, said there are about 40 court reporter vacancies among the state’s 24 judicial circuits. She said average salaries for experienced court reporters are about $42,000.

“Being able to keep up our salaries with the private sector is difficult, so of that pool of court reporters that remains that aren’t already working for us, we’re not able to pay a competitive rate to lure them over to the official court reporter side,” Bumgarner said.

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Information from: The Northwest Herald, https://www.nwherald.com


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