State-wide court reporter shortage could soon affect Rio Grande Valley

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“We don’t have a school that provides this curriculum. We have to go to Corpus or San Antonio or Houston or Dallas and a lot of the times the reporters are staying up there,” said Hidalgo County 332nd District Court Reporter Regina Vasquez.

A shortage of court reporters across the state could make it difficult for Rio Grande Valley courts to fill these positions in the near future.

“It’s physically difficult, because you sit there all day with your fingers working. It’s also hard to keep up with what everyone is saying. A lot of the times the court reporter absolutely rules in the courtroom,” said Judge Mario Ramirez of the 332nd District Court.

These court reporters play a vital role in America’s judicial process.

“The citizens’ rights are at stake or in jeopardy. Everything has to be done according to the law. What we do when we write everything is that, everybody’s conduct is subject to review, the judge’s conduct, the attorney’s conduct,” said Hidalgo County 332nd District Court Reporter Regina Vasquez. 

Vasquez has been in the profession for 16 years and said that although the pay is great, there could be a couple of reasons for the current shortage.

“We don’t have a school that provides this curriculum. We have to go to Corpus or San Antonio or Houston or Dallas and a lot of the times the reporters are staying up there,” Vasquez said.

“It’s difficult here in the valley because a lot of people don’t speak English and some of the witnesses don’t speak English and it’s difficult to do the translation and the court reporting at the same time,” Ramirez said.

To become a reporter, students must pass a three-part test where they are required to write at 225 words a minute at a 95 percent accuracy rate.

“A shortage is something that will affect us all in the future,” Ramirez said.

Court reporters aren’t only in the courtroom, they also transcribe school classes for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. There’s also a growing need for stenographers to type closed captioning on televisions nationwide. 

For more information, visit the National Court Reporters Association’s website at www.ncra.org.

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