Besides the usual helpful articles, tips, and tools in each issue ofThe Reporter, our feature article this month highlights one of our reporters in Austin, Texas, who specializes in high-profile cases. We think this interesting piece will be a fun read and refreshing break from your daily workload.
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Stenographer Makes Case for Rewards of Court Jobs
By Heidi Morrison, The Statesman, Austin,TX
With the recent economic turmoil affecting so many jobs, the search for high-demand careers has reached a new intensity. According to two local professionals, recording legal proceedings is an occupation with a great deal of potential.
Donna Wright is a freelance court reporter in Austin, specializing in high-profile cases for court reporting firms in Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, Houston, New York, Atlanta and California.
Wright, 50, has been a court reporter for about 30 years and said the recession has not affected her.
“Court reporting is a profession that’s in demand because it’s hard to find good court reporters nowadays,” she said.
To keep a record of important courtroom information, Wright uses the stenograph machine or stenotype. It has been around for decades and today it is primarily used for court reporting where the court reporter types every word uttered in a legal proceeding. Other occupations requiring stenography skills include real-time broadcast captioning and communication access realtime translation (CART). This entails a CART provider attending class with a student who is hearing-impaired and taking down everything said in the lecture for the student to read.
The median salary of a court reporter is nearly $50,000 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Wright, who originally wanted to be a hairdresser, said she discovered the field through her father, who was a justice of the peace in the Niagara Falls area.
She graduated from Alfred State College in upstate New York in 1979 with an associate’s degree in court reporting and got a job soon after with the Workers’ Compensation Board in New York.
Three years later she moved to Texas, where she did jury reporting and depositions. Soon she met a federal judge and applied to be his reporter.
Wright said 78 court reporters applied for this position, and she was the one to get it.
These are true stories of criminals either caught in the act or not using their common sense.
Georgia: Investigating a purse snatching, detectives picked up a man who fit the thief’s description and drove him back to the scene. He was told to exit the car and face the victim for an I.D. The suspect carefully eyed the victim and blurted, “Yeah, that’s the woman I robbed.”
(Location unknown): A woman was reporting her car was stolen, and mentioned that there was a car phone in it. The policeman taking the report called the phone and told the guy that answered that he had read the ad in the newspaper and wanted to buy the car. They arranged to meet, and the thief was arrested.
Arizona: A company called “Guns For Hire” stages gunfights for Western movies, etc. One day, they received a call from a 47-year-old woman who wanted to have her husband killed. She got 4-1/2 years in jail.