BAKERSFIELD, CA - Another round of state budget cuts hit Kern County Superior Court Monday.
People now have to get used to reduced services. The court will no longer provide court reporters for family, civil, and probate proceedings. If you are in one of those divisions, from now on walking the hallways means you can buy your own.
"This is definitely not a typical day in the office," said Sylvia Mendez-Sala, court reporter and owner of Sylvia Mendez and Associates.
Setting up business is unusual for Mendez-Sala and her associates who were set up right outside the busy Family Law division, offering up their court reporting skills and making transactions with clients who need it.
"Total one-stop shop. It is ordering your transcript. It's getting your reporter. We're swiping cards. They are definitely deer in the headlights. They aren't sure what to do," said Mendez-Sala.
The confusion is due to state budget cuts. Now, if someone wants a record of what happened in family, civil, and probate cases, almost always needed in an appeal, they or their attorney will have to hire and pay for their own court reporter.
"Normally, it was $179 per party that we would have to split in a long case matter," said family attorney, Nieves Rubio. "So, it's $400 now if you round it up. Comparable to what we are anticipating it's going to run now."
The Lake Isabella Court branch also closed its doors Monday, and the clerk's office hours were scaled back to save money.
"So far, so good," said Superior Court Executive Officer, Terry McNally of the first day of cuts.
McNally says they're taking it one day at a time. They are allowing court reporting companies to hang signs, for now, in the halls where soliciting is normally not allowed.
"Needless to say, we are trying to dissuade anyone from passing out fliers or anything of that nature. But, in the same regard, I think it's important for people to know there's a new service out there," said McNally.
"We are here to serve the public and we are trying to keep our signs out so people know who we are and what we are doing," said Mendez-Sala.
McNally said more information is on their website: http://www.kern.courts.ca.gov/.
The next change, the Taft branch could be open for just one day of service beginning September 9th.