The California Supreme Court has ruled that low-income litigants are entitled to a free court reporter in civil matters. Many courts throughout California cut court reporters due to budget cuts over the last decade.
The case, Jameson v. Desta, involved a prisoner who had previously qualified for a fee waiver, allowing him to making filings free of charge. However, the court told the prisoner that he would not be given a court reporter for his trial. He appealed, but the court of appeal was unable to review the record because there was no transcript. However, the appellate court denied his request for a new trial with a court reporter and found no legal error and ruled against the prisoner.
The California Supreme Court, long a champion of equal access to the courts for all people, ruled that the court of appeal's decision was not consistent with case law or longstanding public policy to allow people to petition the courts when they are harmed.
Courts will not be required to provide a free court reporter to all litigants who have qualified for a fee waiver.