NCRA urges sponsorship of legislation critical to aiding courts in recovering funding

In a letter sent June 24, NCRA President Sarah E. Nageotte, RDR, CRR, CBC, urged Sen. John Thune to become an original sponsor of the Crime Victim Restitution and Court Fee Intercept Act. The legislation would allow for interception of individuals’ federal income tax returns to pay for existing court fees that the individual may owe.

In the letter, Nageotte notes that the concept already exists in federal law as related to child support, state tax, and other federal debts. She said the legislation would have a tremendous and immediate impact on court budgets nationwide and would help to alleviate many of the stresses that have accumulated within the court systems since the late-2000s.

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Alabama budget crisis could shut down court system

A June 8 story on the Alabamanews.net site noted that the court system could be shut down if lawmakers don’t fix the state budget. The court system is faced with cuts of approximately 15 percent, according to the article.

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Madison County court reporter furloughs canceled

The Madison Record, Madison, Ill., reported on April 13 that, after just one week of furloughs for Madison County court reporters, Chief Judge David Hylla said the courthouse’s funding was restored when the governor signed a funding bill into law late last month. Chief judges across the state had to make alternative plans for their smaller budgets, including furloughs and layoffs for hundreds of court reporters, due to a budget shortfall. However, Hylla said the funding will only last until the end of this fiscal year, which ends June 30. He said he doesn’t know what the funding will look like for next year.

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Court reporters going back to work as state plugs budget hole

The News Tribune reported on its website in a March 27 article that the Illinois Legislature had approved a plan ending weeks of negotiations. The plan plugs a $1.6 billion hole in this year’s state budget and continues to fund the salaries of court reporters and other state employees.

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Illinois judges hold emergency meeting to plan for budget cuts

News Channel 20 (Springfield, Ill.) reported that chief judges from around Illinois planned to hold an emergency meeting on March 20 in Chicago to discuss their contingency plans if funding for court reporters doesn’t come in the next couple weeks. Christian County State’s Attorney Mike Havera said the court reporter funding crisis, as a result of cuts to the state’s budget, “is the talk of the day – everyday – because everyone’s afraid what could end up happening.”
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Will County court temporarily rehires some laid-off court reporters

The Herald-News, in Joliet, Ill., reported on March 18 that Will County’s chief judge has temporarily rehired some of the court reporters laid off due to the state’s budget shortfall.

“I was able to bring four of them back utilizing funds to make them county employees for right now, but that’s only a temporary solution,” Chief Judge Richard Schoenstedt said.

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Court reporter furloughs start in Lake County, Ill.

The Chicago Tribune reported on March 16 that a staggered furlough program for court reporters in Lake County Circuit Court, Ill., is scheduled to begin March 17, as local officials start implementing measures to address a state budget shortfall that remains unresolved. Under the furlough plan, half of the local court’s 21 court reporters will work three days on and two days off for one week, while the other half works two days on and three days off. The schedule will alternate back and forth, week to week.

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Judge: ‘Impending sense of doom’ could force state budget fix

The Daily Herald in Chicago, Ill., reported on March 11 that the state’s more than 20 chief judges have been told by the office that runs the court system to each come up with a “emergency operating plan” in case lawmakers and Gov. Bruce Rauner fail to find a budget fix that will allow the state to keep paying for court reporters across the suburbs. The money for their salaries runs out at the end of the month.

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Living in a world of word for word

The Edwardsville[Ill.] Intelligencer posted an article on March 11 citing the important role court reporters play in ensuring a word-for-word account of what goes in court proceedings is recorded. The comments were part of a story about how proposed budget cuts in Illinois is threatening that role. “We need the court reporters we have to keep all the dockets running at the pace they’re running now,” says Third Circuit Chief Judge David Hylla. “If there are layoffs at all, it’s going to slow the wheels of justice.”

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County challenges state cuts to courts

According to an article posted on March 10 by the Superior Telegram, Superior, Wis., the state is shortchanging its court system, and one county is fighting back as a larger share of the state’s justice system falls on the shoulders of property owners. The article reports that the Douglas County Board is contemplating a resolution to encourage the legislature to fund its court system adequately so the costs don’t continue to shift to local property taxpayers. The County Clerk of Courts is quoted saying that the state plans to provide block grants after court reporters wages and benefits are omitted from the budget to cover the costs for two court reporters.

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