On Tuesday, the Courts of Mississippi announced a new program for Pearl River Community College students for court reporters. The program, called A to Z, begins on August 6 at the Hattiesburg campus.
The informational release on the program describes a shortage of licensed court reporters in Mississippi. According to the release, a decade ago, the state of Mississippi had 375 licensed court reporters. Currently only 281 licensed reporters are reported. The new program will be designed to respond to this need.
“You are not going to have a problem finding a job,” said Mississippi Court Reporters Association President Rose Sanchez, of Hattiesburg.
Other opportunities exist outside of the courtroom as well. Closed captioning is also needed across a wide range of media and venues.
The new program will host classes on Friday and Saturday twice each month, as well as include online classes. Sanchez and the immediate past president of the Mississippi Court Reporters Association, Twila Jordan-Hoover, will be instructing the program.
Motions were set in place for a training program three years ago. The A to Z program will be a free program to allow students a chance to learn about what doors may open down the career path without the investment of a lot of time and money. Other programs exist, but the nearest campus was in Gadsden, Alabama.
“The problem is if they leave, what if they don’t come back,” Jordan-Hoover said. “Having a school here will allow us to keep our students here and fulfill the need we have in our state.”
The idea has been well received from several leaders, Including Mississippi Judicial College Director Randy Pierce and Chancellor Deborah Gambrell Chambers in the 110th Chancery District.
“There was a need and we just figured out a way to bring it to fruition,” said Judge Gambrell Chambers.
“Pearl River Community College and its leadership are to be commended,” Pierce said.
Chief Justice Randolph said, “I am extremely pleased that the leaders of the Court Reporters Association, in conjunction with urging by Judge Gambrell Chambers, and the willingness of Pearl River Community College, have created this wonderful opportunity for young people to get involved in a very well-respected and well-paid profession. This will provide a career path for those individuals who do not desire a four year education, but seek a meaningful and rewarding career.”
The search for temporary court reporters has been a hassle. The Sixth Chancery Court’s official court reporter left in April, leaving a gap which has been needing to be filled and often filled with temporary help.
Court Administrator Erin Land said, “I call around and just try to find one to schedule for motions and trial dates.” Trial dates are scheduled into next year. But, Land said, “Nobody really wants to schedule that far in advance.”
Judge Kirk said, “I like for things to be lined up. I’m having to work in an atmosphere of uncertainty.”