CONWAY, SC (WBTW)- A national court reporter shortage is now having an impact on Horry County courts. Solicitor

Jimmy Richardson said they were supposed to have two judges this week. One doing trials and the other pleas, but there’s only one court reporter. Because they see 200 pleas every week, they’ve had to push this week’s trials back to August or September.

About 10,000 cases go through the Horry County court system each year. Fifteenth Circuit Solicitor Jimmy Richardson said without a court reporter the system breaks down.

“Defendants sit in jail longer and victims have to wait for their day in court. Defendants have to wait for their day in court,” said Richardson.

Court reporters must transcribe every word in a plea hearing or trial.. And every word counts.

“A defendant gets convicted and they’re wanting to appeal. Their appeal is based on what’s in that record and the court reporter is responsible for that record,” said Richardson.

Ginny Jones, a spokesperson with the S.C. Judicial Department said five court rooms in the state digitally record court proceedings. If a transcript is requested, a stenographer will then type one out. 

Richardson said digital recording could be a reason why fewer people are entering the profession.

“I’m not going to go through school and learn to be a court reporter if this job is going to go away and now you have a shortage,” said Richardson.

The State Judicial Department said they do not intend digital reporting to replace court reporters.

Richardson said with growth in the area leading to more cases, even one week with fewer court reporters affects the 51 other weeks.

“This year we’re going to have to do more each week simply because we lost a week,” said Richardson.

Another factor causing the shortage is not enough new court reporters to replace those who retire. There are currently 36 open court reporter positions in South Carolina’s Family and Circuit Courts.

If you are interested in becoming a court reporter click below for more information: