The Iowa Supreme Court Digital Audio Visual Recording Technology Committee submits its report. The Committee concludes that audio and video devices can reliably record courtroom proceedings and that accurate transcripts can be produced from the recordings. But, the Committee cautions that Iowa cannot afford to implement the technology in all of its 316 courtrooms and to eliminate court reporters and other judicial support staff. The Committee notes that Iowa judges rely upon court reporters to do more than record the proceedings in the courtroom. In many instances the court reporter is the only support person that a judge in Iowa has at the district or associate district court level.
The Committee also discusses the cost of the digital technology. Potential costs range from $20,000.00 per courtroom for a mid-level audio only system, while a high level audio and video system could cost up to $30,000.00 per courtroom. Those estimates do not include the costs for backup and storage units, personnel to maintain the digital technology system and certified support staff at the courtroom level to monitor the equipment when it is in use.
The full DART Committee report is on the Iowa Courts website.
The Iowa Supreme Court has expressed interest in digital recording technology as a way to reduce costs. Better than 95 per cent of the court's budget is for employees' salaries and benefits. At the present time, the judicial branch employs the equivalent of 151 full time official court reporters. Their salaries and benefits account for more than $13,600,000.00. There are about 63 other employees who are either judicial assistants or court attendants. Their salaries and benefits total about $3,500,000.00.