Connecticut court recording monitors are fighting proposed changes to the system that they say will put at risk both their jobs and the integrity of the court system.
The state’s nearly 200 court recording monitors are the people who take detailed notes and produce word-for-word transcriptions of judicial proceedings. According to their union, the average salary is between $45,000 and $60,000 a year, and they supplement their income by selling those transcripts to private parties.
Union members said the Connecticut Judicial Branch announced earlier this year that it would pursue outsourcing court transcription work once the current contract expires in June 2021.
Charles DellaRocco is president of the AFSCME Local 749 judicial employees union. He said outsourcing would threaten jobs and also put the integrity of the court system at risk by allowing people who aren’t in the courtroom to transcribe from audio recordings.
“You’re going to have some person either down the street or in another state or in another country dictating what’s happening in the courtroom,” DellaRocco said. “If there’s one thing that we can count on in the judicial system it’s the integrity of the court because we have monitors in there. We are doing the proper transcripts. We’re doing it word-for-word, everything. And you’re going to get rid of that? I mean that’s really what our whole system is all about.”
Officials said they’re not questioning the importance of accurate transcription. Melissa Farley, director of external affairs for the judicial branch, said they’re trying to conform to recommendations by state auditors. One of the issues in their report highlights ethical concerns about allowing court monitors to produce transcripts for outside parties on state time.
“We are trying to figure out how we can continue to have the high quality transcripts, produced in an expeditious fashion, while also letting our court recording monitors know that they can no longer type transcripts on state time and earn private dollars,” Farley said. “In addition, what we want to do is we want to preserve these individuals jobs.”
The judiciary committee will hear testimony Wednesday. However, the legislation being considered does not include any language that would allow the judicial branch to outsource the production of transcripts.