Michigan court reporters seek transcript page rate increase

Court reporters in Michigan are paid a per-page rate, set by the State Legislature. This rate, established in 1986, has never been increased.

Michigan’s current page rate is the lowest in the nation, according to officials from the National Court Reporters Association. House Bill 4329, sponsored by Hank Vaupel (R-District 47) and Julie Brixie (D-District 69), seeks to change that. The bill was introduced on March 12, and referred to the House Judiciary Committee for review on the same date.

Many municipalities outsource their transcription work to freelance court reporters, whose income is strictly the per-page rate; no hourly salary, no health insurance, no retirement benefits, no sick time or vacation time.

According to the State Court Administrative Office, there are approximately 1,500 court reporters in Michigan. There are hundreds of small businesses, run by women—who make up 95 percent of this profession—that have gone under because they simply could not afford to continue to operate at 1986 rates.

In a letter to the Michigan Legislature, National Court Reporters Association President Sue Terry wrote that court reporters, who act as “guardians of the record” have provided invaluable services to the state’s court system without fair compensation for decades. She pointed out that court reporters routinely work on producing transcripts after normal business hours and are often required to produce transcripts within statutory time limits or face penalties such as fines or loss of certification. Many are required to purchase their own materials, at great personal expense, to create transcripts required by law.

Michigan’s current page rate is $1.75 per page, the lowest per page rate in the nation, including Washington DC and the federal government. The national average rate is $3.21 per page. The surrounding states’ rates are: Ohio: $4.00 per page; Indiana: $4.50 per page; and Illinois: $3.50 per page. HB 4329 would bring Michigan’s page rate to $3.50.

Michigan court reporters are seeking support to pass the legislation. A petition can be signed and shared at http://chng.it/2f45jPNc. Court reporters also encourage people to contact the House Judiciary Committee Chair Graham Filler at GrahamFiller@house.mi.gov.

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