Posted on October 10, 2020

When Do You Need A Court Reporter In An Illinois Divorce?

As if divorce court in Illinois wasn’t intimidating enough, someone is sitting in the corner writing everything down.  That person typing on the little typewriter is the court reporter.  But, sometimes the court reporter is in court and sometimes there’s no court reporter at all.  When do you need a court reporter in an Illinois divorce?

In Illinois a court reporter is not just someone who can type fast. A court reporter is an official position. 

“Court reporter” means any person appointed by the chief judge of any circuit to perform the duties prescribed in Section 5 of this Act.” 705 ILCS 70/1

A court reporter’s duties are defined by law.

“The court reporter shall make a full reporting by means of stenographic notes of the evidence and such other proceedings in trials and judicial proceedings to which he or she is assigned by the chief judge, and the court reporter may use an electronic instrument as a supplementary device.” 705 ILCS 70/5

The court reporter not only makes a transcript of everything that was said and done in court, the court reporter also verifies that the transcript is correct.

“The court reporter who recorded and transcribed the testimony shall certify the correctness of the transcript.” Cook County Court Rule 13.7(c)

When Is A Court Reporter Mandatory In a Divorce?

During a default divorce in Illinois, there is only one hearing: the final hearing.  This final hearing must have a court reporter to memorialize what happened.

“In all default cases, all testimony shall be recorded, transcribed, and filed with the Clerk of the Court.” Cook County Court Rule 13.7(a)

Presumably this is in case the defaulted party reappears and says, “I just lived down the block, why did you lie about not being able to locate me?”

If both parties have filed their appearances or are represented by counsel, the parties have the option of waiving the court reporter.

“In cases where each party is either represented by counsel or has filed a pro se appearance, the necessity of having a court reporter present and/or the requirement that a transcript be prepared and filed with the court may be waived by counsel or the parties with approval of the Court.” Cook County Court Rule 13.7(b)

You must have approval of the court to waive the court reporter (and their fees).  If there is a court reporter available, the court will not waive the court reporter.  This hearing generally costs $ 30 to $ 50 in court reporter fees.  It is well worth the investment to finalize your divorce while having the final testimony memorialized by the court reporter.

The court reporter’s transcript of the final hearing will then be filed with the Circuit Clerk by the Petitioner in the divorce case.

“In the event no waiver has been filed, a transcript of the proceedings must be filed with the circuit clerk within twenty-eight (28) days.” Cook County Court Rule 13.7(b)

“The attorney for the moving party shall provide the transcript, unless otherwise agreed or ordered by the court.” Cook County Court Rule 13.7(d)

While not formally part of a divorce, orders of protection can occur within a divorce case. A petition for an order of protection is a quasi-criminal because the enforcement of the order of protection is a criminal matter.

“A violation of any protective order, whether issued in a civil, quasi-criminal proceeding, shall be enforced by a criminal court” 725 ILCS 5/112A-23

Because of a petition for an order of protection’s criminal nature, a court reporter must provide a transcript of the proceedings.

“Transcript. In cases in which the defendant is charged with a crime punishable by imprisonment in the penitentiary, the proceedings required by this rule to be in open court shall be taken verbatim, and upon order of the trial court transcribed, filed, and made a part of the common law record.” Illinois Supreme Court Rule 402(e)

The court will arrange for and provide a court reporter at any order of protection hearing.  Ordering a physical transcript will have a cost to be paid directly to the court reporter.

Finally, if your case is really out of control, the judge themself can order a court reporter to make sure EVERYTHING is on the record. “[T]he trial court possesses the inherent authority to control its own docket and the course of litigation” J.S.A. v. M.H, 224 Ill. 2d 182, 196 (Ill. 2007)

When Is A Court Reporter Optional During An Illinois Divorce?

Except for default cases, order of protection hearings or when a court reporter is available for a prove-up, court reporters are completely optional.

Court reporters are typically hired during Illinois divorces for two occasions: 1) depositions and 2) hearings/trials.

Court Reporters At Illinois Hearings and Divorce Trials

In a hearing, trial or anything that happens in court, everyone has the right to have a court reporter present to transcribe the testimony and events which occur in court.

“The record of court proceedings may be taken by stenographic means or by an electronic recording system, including video conferencing services, approved by the Supreme Court. All transcripts prepared as the official record of court proceedings shall be prepared pursuant to applicable supreme court rules.” Illinois Supreme Court Rule 46(a)

The entire point of having a court reporter at a hearing is to preserve the record for possible appeal.  If someone disagrees with the judge’s ruling at the hearing or trial, an appeal may be filed.

Upon filing the appeal, “the appellant shall make a written request to the court reporting personnel as defined in Rule 46 to prepare a transcript of the proceedings that appellant wishes included in the report of proceedings.” Illinois Supreme Court Rule 323(a)

The court reporter then must file the transcript of the matter with the Circuit Clerk.

“Court reporting personnel who transcribes a report of proceedings shall certify to its accuracy and shall notify all parties that the report of proceedings has been completed and filed with the clerk of the circuit court. The report of proceedings shall be taken as true and correct unless shown to be otherwise and corrected in the manner permitted by Rule 329 for the record on appeal.

      The court reporting personnel shall electronically file the reports of proceedings in searchable PDF format to the circuit court clerk within 49 days after the filing of the notice of appeal. There shall be a separate, transcribed, dated, and numbered PDF file for each report of proceedings. Reports of proceedings shall be clearly labeled on the first page with the date of the hearing or court proceeding, the type of proceeding, trial court case number, case caption, and the name of the presiding judge.” Illinois Supreme Court Rule 323(b)

If there was no court reporter, your court may have microphones recording everything.  To the best of my knowledge, Cook County has no microphones recording in court while Dupage County does have recordings. If recordings exist, you can order the recording in lieu of a transcript.

“If no verbatim transcript of the evidence of proceedings is obtainable the appellant may prepare a proposed report of proceedings from the best available sources, including recollection. In any trial court, a party may request from the court official any recording of the proceedings.” Illinois Supreme Court Rule 323(c)

You are going to have to transcribe the recording anyways so if you suspect an appealable issue will come up, do not rely on the recording and just hire a court reporter.

“Such recording may be transcribed for use in preparation of a bystander’s report.” Illinois Supreme Court Rule 323(c)

In the absence of a transcript, the court must then certify the bystander’s report. “[O]nly the report of proceedings so certified shall be included in the record on appeal” Illinois Supreme Court Rule 323(c)

Do not expect a court you are asking to be reversed to certify your bystander’s report.  So, again, hire a court reporter if you believe something appealable might happen. 

Most of what a divorce judge does is discretionary. A divorce judge’s decision is only appealable if the judge doesn’t follow the law, ignores the evidence or abuses their discretion. No transcript often means no possibility of successful appeal. If “there is no transcript of the [appealed] hearing[‘s decision], there is no basis for [an appeals court] holding that the trial court abused discretion in denying the motion.” Foutch v. O’BRYANT, 459 NE 2d 958 – Ill: Supreme Court 1984

If you want an appeal (or even want to put the thought that you might appeal in the judge’s head)…you need a court reporer. It will be the appellant’s burden to “present a sufficiently complete record of the trial proceedings to establish the claimed error and that[,] in the absence of an adequate record on appeal, it is presumed that the order entered conforms to the law and is based upon a sufficient factual basis.” Chicago City Bank & Trust Co. v. Wilson, 86 Ill. App. 3d 452, 454 (1980). “Any doubts which may arise from the incompleteness of the record will be resolved against the appellant.” Foutch v. O’Bryant, 99 Ill. 2d 389, 392 (1984).

Court Reporters At Illinois Divorce Depositions

Illinois depositions must have an “officer” present to administer an oath as to the truthfulness of the testimony to be taken.

“[D]epositions shall be taken (1) before an officer authorized to administer oaths by the laws of this State” Illinois Supreme Court Rule 205

The court reporter can administer the oath required in a deposition.

“All…persons certified under the Illinois Certified Shorthand Reporters Act of 1984 have the power to administer oaths and affirmations to witnesses and others” 5 ILCS 255/1

While the court reporter is there administering oaths, you might as well have them transcribe the deposition.

“The testimony shall be transcribed at the request of any party” Illinois Supreme Court Rule 206(f)

The person who is deposed, the deponent, has the option to verify the court reporter’s transcript before it is finalized or “certified.”

“Unless signature is waived by the deponent, the officer shall instruct the deponent that if the testimony is transcribed the deponent will be afforded an opportunity to examine the deposition at the office of the officer or reporter, or elsewhere, by reasonable arrangement at the deponent’s expense, and that corrections based on errors in reporting or transcription which the deponent desires to make will be entered upon the deposition with a statement by the deponent that the reporter erred in reporting or transcribing the answer or answers involved. The deponent may not otherwise change either the form or substance of his or her answers.” Illinois Supreme Court Rule 207(a)

“If the testimony is transcribed, the officer shall certify within the deposition transcript that the deponent was duly sworn by the officer him and that the deposition is a true record of the testimony given by the deponent. A deposition so certified requires no further proof of authenticity.” Illinois Supreme Court Rule 207.

Transcripts don’t need proof of authenticity so they do not need the court reporter in court to say “Yes. This is the transcript I prepared” in court. A certified transcript will be accepted at face value in an Illinois divorce court.

Depositions are transcribed so that you can hold the deponent to their words should their court testimony vary from the deposition testimony.

If someone does testify in court in contradiction to their testimony during deposition, they can be cross-examined with questions such as:

“You reviewed the deposition before your signed it, didn’t you?”,

“You knew you had the right to make any changes in it, didn’t you?”,

“You didn’t make any changes, did you?”,

“You reviewed it recently before testifying, didn’t you?”

Then you can ask them to read the portion of the deposition transcript they contradicted.  The deposition transcript can then be submitted as an exhibit into evidence.

This is called “impeaching the witness.”

Who Pays For The Court Reporter In An Illinois Divorce?

The court reporter, while publicly appointed is like any other service.  The person who orders the service must pay for it.  The service’s rates are set by Illinois regulations. 

“A court reporting services employee may charge a page rate for the preparation of transcripts of court proceedings not to exceed the rate set by the employer representative in the Uniform Schedule of Charges for Transcripts” 705 ILCS 70/5

The Uniform Schedule of Charges for Transcripts can be found in the Administrative Regulations For Court Reporting Services In The Illinois Courts:

“In accordance with Section 5 of the Court Reporters Act (705 ILCS 70/5), the employer representatives adopt the following Uniform Schedule of Charges for Transcripts of evidence and proceedings.:

  1. Transcript charges shall be computed on a “per page” basis.

6. Regular copy delivery (the period allowed by law or rule or any extensions thereof) charges shall be:

(a) Private Paid Original $ 3.15 per page

(b) All Other Originals $ 3.00 per page.

(c) Private Paid Copies $ 1.00 per page.

(d) All Other Copies $ .50 per page.

7. Expedited copy delivery (when the party requests delivery of a transcript more than 24 hours but less than seven (7) days from the request or proceeding) charges shall be:

(a) Private Paid Original $ 3.70 per page

(b) All Other Originals $ 3.15 per page.

(c) Private Paid Copies $ 1.00 per page.

(d) All Other Copies $ .50 per page.

8. Daily copy delivery (when the party requests delivery within 24 hours from the request or proceeding) charges shall be:

(a) Private Paid Original $ 4.20 per page

(b) All Other Originals $ 3.30 per page.

(c) Private Paid Copies $ 1.00 per page.

(d) All Other Copies $ .75 per page.”

These rates are all as of 2009. I don’t have a more recent copy of the Uniform Schedule of Charges for Transcripts. 

You will have to order an original transcript before the court reporter will sell you a cheaper copy. 

If you think you might need a court reporter for your Illinois divorce you definitely need an experienced Illinois divorce attorney.  Contact my Chicago, Illinois office to schedule a free no-obligation consultation.

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Russell Knight

Russell D. Knight has been practicing family law as a Chicago divorce lawyer since 2006. Russell D. Knight amicably resolves tough cases while remaining a strong advocate for his client’s interests.

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