LOWNDES COUNTY, Miss.(WCBI)—The state of Mississippi is experiencing a shortage of court reporters.
“Without my court reporter I can’t do anything in that courtroom I’m hamstrung,”said Circuit Court Judge Jim Kitchens.
Circuit Court Judge Jim Kitchens says he’s having a hard time in court, now that he doesn’t have a steady court reporter.
“In this district, we had a court reporter leave to go to Texas, where she could make more money. My court reporter’s been out on maternity leave,”said Kitchens.
Kitchens says court reporters are essential to any case.
“They take down everything that’s said. They provide copies of hearings to attorney’s and transcripts. The Supreme Court determines whether a case was tried correctly base upon that transcript. If the transcript’s not done you can’t look to see if you’ve done anything correctly,”said Kitchens.
Fran Cooper has been a court reporter for more than two decades. She’s a University of Mississippi graduate with a degree in the field.
” The first day of my court reporting class, I had probably about 50 people in my classroom and we didn’t even have enough chairs. Then I graduated with about eight people. It was very difficult. We had to graduate with 250 words per minute,”said Cooper.
Judge Kitchens along with Judge Lee Howard appealed to the Lowndes County Board Of Supervisors to address the shortage and to ask for a court reporter salary increase.
” We lost out on two skilled court reporters who said, look I can’t take the pay cut to come to work for ya’ll. So, what we asked for them was, that they be able to give the maximum pay that the law allows. Because they are really great and quite frankly, we don’t want someone to hire them from us,”said Kitchens.
Ole Miss did away with the 4 year court reporting program in spring of 2004.
“I’ve spoken with Dr. Jim Borsig at the “W” trying to convince him to look at this program and maybe see about doing a court reporter program at the “W”. I think they would be a great fit,”said Kitchens.
In the 16th Judicial District, each circuit court judge has their own court reporter.