I have had my job as a district court reporter for the state of Oklahoma working in Garfield County over 33 years and still love it.
But I am tremendously frustrated because Oklahoma Certified Shorthand Reporters last received a raise in 2006. That is unconscionable. Even the judges, bailiffs, and teachers have received well-deserved raises since 2006.
Court reporters are an integral part of the judicial system. Without a transcript of court proceedings, litigants do not have the best means to present their case for review to higher courts. Oklahoma reporters are required to buy their own equipment, which includes reporting software, $4000; writers, $5,100; printers, $1,000; computers, $1,950; and many other expenses.
Oklahoma court reporters are required to pass tests at 200 and 180 words per minute for licensure as a Certified Shorthand Reporter. Some reporters further their skills by passing national certification tests at 260 wpm and also passing tests to provide realtime reporting, which is akin to captioning provided on TV. These unique skills are difficult to attain, take years to perfect, and are needed to make an accurate record.
In 2015, Garfield County had five reporters; currently, we have three reporters full-time. That is causing delays in setting trials. These Garfield County reporters have over 25 years of service.
Sen. Patrick Anderson previously sponsored a bill to extend longevity pay beyond 20 years for reporters’ extended service; unfortunately, that bill failed.
The 190 Oklahoma district court reporters have been totally forgotten by the Oklahoma Legislature. This lack of respect for this profession will ultimately have lasting and dire consequences for the judicial process as a whole.
My hope is that someone wakes up and takes notice before it is too late.
Melissa K. Atkinson