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California Court Reporters Assn. v. Judicial Council of California

Court of Appeal of California, First Appellate District, Division Four

October 17, 1995, Decided

No. A066471.


 [*17]  [**45]   REARDON, J. 

Effective in 1994, the Judicial Council promulgated rules of court allowing electronic recording of superior court proceedings, despite  [*18]  a statutory scheme authorizing official shorthand reporting of these [***2]  proceedings and the Legislature's rejection of legislation authorizing electronic recording. (See Cal. Rules of Court, rules 33(e), 891, 892, 980.3.) As rules of court are only valid to the  [**46]  extent that they comply with the constitutional charge to be "not inconsistent with statute," we conclude that these rules were promulgated in excess of Judicial Council authority. (See Cal. Const., art. VI, § 6.)

In our case, appellants California Court Reporters Association, Inc. (CCRA) and others 5 [***3]  petitioned for a writ of mandate to prevent respondents Judicial Council of California and others 6 from allowing electronic recording of superior court proceedings. The trial court denied the petition and CCRA appeals. CCRA contends, inter alia, that the California Rules of Court authorizing and funding electronic recording in superior courts are invalid because they are inconsistent with statutory law. We agree and thus reverse the judgment.


The facts of this case are undisputed. For more than a century, state law has provided that the official record of superior court 7 proceedings be taken down in shorthand. (Code Civ. Proc., 8 § 269; see Stats. 1866, ch. 235, § 1, pp. 232-233; Stats. 1872, ch. 296, § 1, pp. 400-401; Cal. Code Amends. 1873-1874, ch. 383, § 269, p. 15; Cal. Code Amends. 1880, ch. 35, § 269, pp. 21, 53].) In 1986, the Legislature authorized a demonstration project in selected counties--including Alameda County--to assess the feasibility of using electronic means of producing a verbatim record of these proceedings. (§ 270, subd. (a).) By January 1992, the Judicial Council was to report to the Legislature [***4]  on the feasibility of electronic recording of official superior  [*19]  court proceedings. 9 (§ 270, subd. (g).) In 1992, the Judicial Council sponsored a bill that would have allowed electronic recording to be used after January 1, 1994. The Assembly Judiciary Committee rejected the bill and it was never reported from committee to the full Assembly. (See Assem. Bill No. 2937 (1991-1992 Reg. Sess.) § 1-3; see also Los Angeles County Court Reporters Assn. v. Superior Court (1995) 31 Cal. App. 4th 403, 408-409 & fn. 6 [37 Cal. Rptr. 2d 341].)

 [***5]  Under the terms of the statute, the demonstration project was to end on January 1, 1994. 10 (§ 270, subd. (a).) In November 1993, the Judicial Council adopted rules of court allowing official electronic recording of superior court proceedings after January 1, 1994. 11 (Cal. Rules of Court, rules 33(e), 891, 892, 980.3.) The Alameda County Superior Court also adopted local rules governing the electronic recording of its proceedings.

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39 Cal. App. 4th 15 *; 46 Cal. Rptr. 2d 44 **; 1995 Cal. App. LEXIS 1005 ***; 95 Cal. Daily Op. Service 8147; 95 Daily Journal DAR 13986

CALIFORNIA COURT REPORTERS ASSOCIATION, INC., et al., Plaintiffs and Appellants, v. JUDICIAL COUNCIL OF CALIFORNIA et al., Defendants and Respondents.

Subsequent History:  [***1]  Review Denied February 6, 1996, Reported at: 1996 Cal. LEXIS 796.

Prior History: Superior Court of Alameda County, No. 728173-6, Robert O. Staniforth, Judge. 1 

Disposition: The judgment is reversed.


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Governments, Courts, Rule Application & Interpretation, Civil Procedure, Appeals, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Legislation, Interpretation, Local Governments, Home Rule, Judicial Precedent, State & Territorial Governments, Relations With Governments, Court Personnel, Court Records, Attorneys, General Overview, Judicial Officers, Court Reporters