- Federal judiciary to hike transcript costs 20% over two years
- Inflation, court reporter income cited as reasons for hike
(Reuters) - Federal judiciary policymakers have approved a plan to increase the cost of transcripts for the first time since 2007 in order to ensure court reporters' income keeps up with inflation at a time of rising prices.
A report released this week on the Judicial Conference of the United States' closed-door Sept. 20 meeting showed the policymaking body approved raising transcript fee rates annually by 10% over two years beginning Oct. 1, 2023.
The combined 20% overall rate increase would mark a major fee increase for lawyers and members of the public ordering copies of transcripts from court reporters hired to transcribe hearings and trials in federal courts nationally.
In approving a rate increase for transcripts for fiscal years 2024 and 2025, the Judicial Conference cited the need to "ensure court reporter income keeps pace with inflation and remains competitive."
The fee rise comes as rapid price increases continue to plague Americans, prompting the Federal Reserve to hike interest rates to rein in inflation.
Government data released on Nov. 10 showed price increases moderated in October. U.S. consumer prices rose less than expected in October, pushing the annual increase below 8% for the first time in eight months.
Under the Court Reporters Act, proceedings must be recorded verbatim by a court reporter. Court reporters and transcribers may charge and collect fees for their transcripts.
About 670 official court reporters currently work in the federal courts, according to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Transcripts are also produced by contract court reporters and transcription firms.
The Judicial Conference set maximum per-page rates for how much parties must pay for transcripts. The first party to order one pays an original transcript rate, and subsequent requesters pay a lower rate.
Prior to September's meeting, the original transcript rate ranged from $3.65 per page to be delivered within 30 days, to as much as $7.25 per page for one produced within two hours of an order.
The per-page copy rate varies from $0.60 to $1.20, depending on how many other parties have ordered a copy and how quickly an order needs to be processed.
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