In the Spotlight

Johnson

Stenograph’s featured court reporter this month is Micheal A. Johnson, CSR (TX), CCR (LA), CRR, CLR Johnson Reporting Services.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO ENTER THE COURT REPORTING PROFESSION?
Upon my release from active duty in the Army, I decided I needed something to fill the time.  My wife was in reporting school at the time and so I gave it a shot.  Here I am 20+ years later.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT BEING A COURT REPORTER?  
The challenge of every job to be better than the last time.  And the travel.
WERE THERE ANY HURDLES YOU HAD TO OVERCOME IN YOUR CAREER? 
Professionally, yes.  After tort reform in Texas killed the med-mal business, I had to redirect my career in another direction.  We actually ended up moving out of the small town I grew up in and headed for the big city.  There I realized I was just one of many reporters and had to find a way to set myself apart from the masses.  At that point I began making as many conferences as possible and also obtaining as many certifications as I could.  Those two things alone have made the difference in my career between just being an overflow reporter and THE overflow reporter.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO NEW COURT REPORTERS?  
Be willing to say yes, even if you don’t feel comfortable doing so.  You never know what opportunities it may bring.
WHAT WAS THE STRANGEST CASE YOU HAVE WORKED ON? 
I don’t know about “strangest,” but definitely the most interesting are the trials being held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which I am on the team of reporters.  Certainly the most challenging job/case I’ve ever been a part of.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO OUTSIDE OF COURT REPORTING? 
My life outside of reporting is consumed by two kids that are actively involved in sports.  It’s rare that I don’t have a weekend filled with either cheerleading competitions or baseball and football games.

In the Spotlight

MeanieWhy did you decide to enter the court reporting profession? 
As a high school junior, I was lucky enough to attend a presentation from a student at a nearby reporting school.  It sounded clerical and interesting.  My high school then offered machine shorthand as an option when I was a senior, I saw my aptitude, and pursued full-time reporting school immediately after high school graduation.

What is your favorite thing about being a court reporter?   
It’s hard to think of a favorite thing.  I like the variety of subjects I learn, the variety of people I work with, the variety of places I report, the variety of scenarios that benefit from a verbatim record.  I like the way my machine feels – when it’s behaving correctly! – and I love the many, many friendships I’ve made in the reporting community and NCRA over the years.  I like the income, I like the flexibility, I like the importance of our contributions to history.

Were there any hurdles you had to overcome in your career? 
Life is full of disappointments and challenges, and our reactions to them test our mettle.  I’ve been disappointed in failed exams, lost jobs, equipment failures … but I’m glad to report that the hurdles are few and far between, thankfully.

What advice would you give to new court reporters? 
Keep practicing and improve your skills.  There’s always another level to achieve, another certification to hang on your wall, always a way to be better, faster, more accurate.  The constant-learning aspect of our profession is SO rewarding!  The easier it is for us to mechanically do our jobs, the more career satisfaction we have and the more we want to tell people about it.  If you love reporting, tell others; if you don’t, improve your skills or find a better calling.  It’s a fabulous profession and SO worth all the effort you put in on the constant improvement spectrum.

What was the strangest case you have worked on? 
Hmmm.  I haven’t really had strange ones.  I find the amount of litigation generated by the potential patent intricacies of a mechanical belt or light switch amazing.  Criminal work, although sometimes strange, is also very rewarding, knowing that people’s lives literally hang in the balance based on the quality of my work.  I always enjoy accident reconstruction and arson investigation – maybe I was a frustrated detective in a prior life.

What do you like to do outside of court reporting?  
I love all things reporter related and am inextricably bound.  Beyond that, I like road trips and doing anything outside in beautiful scenery, hiking, wineries, or an impromptu picnic.  My favorite place in the world is the Black Hills, and there are MANY trails I’ve yet to explore.

In the Spotlight

starkman

Stenograph’s featured court reporter this month is Irving L. Starkman, RPR, FAPR, DSA from Starkman Reporting and Videoconferencing.

Why did you decide to enter the court reporting profession?
I decided to enter the court reporting profession after visiting our City Hall on a senior high school trip.  We attended a trial and I was totally amazed by the court reporter. I couldn’t take my eyes off him the whole time we were there. After that day, I looked into attending CR school. The CR I saw in City Hall later became my mentor.  He then went on to become a lawyer and then a Judge.
What is your favorite thing about being a court reporter?
My favorite thing about being a CR is meeting new, interesting and educated people.  Every day you have a new witness with different skills. The education you receive could not be obtained by attending numerous colleges. I like working with the attorneys. As I say, you learn something new every day.
Were there any hurdles you had to overcome in your career?
When I attended CR school, I was learning typing and CR skills at the same time.  When I was in typing class, I was doing stenotype.  When I was in stenotype class, I was doing typing. It took me quite awile to get over this, but, thank God, I did.
What advice would you give to new court reporters?
The main objective is to practice, practice, practice. They should be avid readers, including newspapers, books, journals.  Know your local, national and international events. There is no substitute for knowledge.
What was the strangest case you have worked on?
I don’t know if this is strange, but it’s interesting. I took the deposition of then Cassius Clay, later Muhummad Ali. It involved a sparing partner that left his camp and went to another boxer, namely Joe Frazier.  After a few hours of questioning, one of the attorneys said to Clay, ” How come you hate Joe Frazier so much?”  His answer was, ” Would you hate someone that made you two million dollars?”  It was all an act, and he did it very well.
What do you like to do outside of court reporting?
I love to travel, do bartending, and car detailing.

 

In the Spotlight

JanetTrimmerStenograph’s featured court reporter this month is Janet Trimmer, Certified Real-Time Reporter.
Why did you decide to enter the court reporting profession?
My mother knew a neighbor who was a court reporter and she seemed to be quite well off financially. So my mum thought it might be a good occupation for me, and she was right. She had always been a stay-at-home mom and wished she’d had a career, so she wanted this for me.

What is your favorite thing about being a court reporter?
It pays well considering the amount of education that is required, is interesting, as a free-lance reporter I feel very independent and I like the flexibility, freedom, and variety of working on different assignments for different agencies and the diverse types of work; eg ,product liability, med mal, that way, I am never bored.  I have never been without work or a good paycheck as my skills have always been in demand.

Were there any hurdles you had to overcome in your career?
Realizing what agencies are good and not so good to work with, and what kind of work I like within the field of reporting.

What advice would you give to new court reporters?

Study grammar and punctuation regularly and read a lot to get an overall good general knowledge base. Work with an experienced, trusted, recommended scopist who knows more than you do. Don’t burn any bridges with people within the reporting field – always be as positive as possible in presenting yourself – people have long memories when it comes to negative image presentation.  Always dress appropriately, smile and be polite, do not say too much, and be punctual.

What was the strangest case you have worked on?
I did work as a court reporter in District and Supreme Court in Australia for 3 years. I had to cover 60 days of circuit duty in a large state which included some Outback areas, also beautiful seaside towns. It was a interesting experience. Everything was daily copy. I was the first steno writer as at that time everyone else was a pen writer. I was born and raised in Australia, so it was an easy adjustment for me to understand the Australian accent.

What do you like to do outside of court reporting?
I have dogs (Toy Fox Terriers).  I travel to Australia every year for at least a month.   I also have an antiques business. I try to stay in shape at the gym.  I live in Las Vegas, so I like to spend at least 2 evenings a week at the casinos. I love fashion and shop a lot for unique clothes and jewelry. I like to read and I love PayTV. I have an avid interest in Ancient Egypt. I like to travel. I love to go to court reporting seminars with my girl pal reporters. I love realtime so I am constantly tweaking my dictionary and finding new briefs. I suppose my work is my biggest hobby!