Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli this week gave the green light for clerks to make recordings of court proceedings and provide copies for a fee, a practice that might help litigants who can’t afford to hire court reporters.
Cuccinelli’s position on the issue is described in an attorney general opinion in response to a request by Del. Scott Surovell (D-Mount Vernon). Surovell sponsored legislation to explicitly authorize court recordings, but his bill was defeated in a House subcommittee.
In a blog post about the opinion, Surovell said Cuccinelli “basically says that my legislation is unnecessary because Clerks already have the authority to proceed and charge for the recordings.”
Surovell, a traffic lawyer, said federal courts have been making digital recordings “for as long as I can remember.” He said clerks in Northern Virginia hesitated to install recording systems, however, because there was no clear legal authority.
“I cannot tell you how many times I would have liked to have a record but did not have one because my client would not pay for a court reporter,” Surovell wrote.
Even if the Cuccinelli opinion provides the assurance clerks need to start recording court proceedings, there is still the matter of funding, as Surovell notes. “I believe the only thing holding this back will be the money to pay for the equipment on the front end.”
By Peter Vieth