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When I grow up, I want to be a court reporter

Recently, elementary school teacher Karen Taylor took her class of second-graders from a town in rural Iowa on a field trip to watch a jury trial taking place in the small town of Mount Ayr. Presiding over the proceeding was Judge Gary G. Kimes, of the 5th Judicial District Court, and making the record was Lori Hargens, RPR, from Greenville, Iowa.

“Judge Kimes interrupted our trial, with the agreement of each of the attorneys, and visited with the class,” said Hargens. “He explained the role and job of each person in the courtroom and took the time to answer the many questions the class asked.”

Hargens said she was so impressed by how inquisitive the students were at such a young age that as they left the courtroom, she thought to herself that a few of them could very well grow up to become attorneys or court reporters because of their brief introduction to the judicial branch.

Several days after the students’ visit, Judge Kimes received letters from the class thanking him for spending time with them. A number of letters, like the one below, noted his black robe and the court reporter:


 “Dear Judge Kimes,

Thank you for letting us come in and talking to us. I liked your black robe. I thought the court reporter was cool. I learned that if people have a problem with something they should come to court.”


“I was surprised to see so many letters mention the court reporter, and I never had thought of myself as ‘cool’ before, but now I had a letter to prove it,” Hargen said. “I realized that it is never too early to start opening doors for young people.”

Other letters include those below:


 “Dear Judge Kimes,

Thank you for letting us go in the courtroom. You had a nice robe on. Thank you for letting us see your helpers. All of the jury seemed nice. I love the court reporter.”


“Dear Judge Kimes,

Thank you for letting us into the courtroom. I learned that judges wear robes. I liked the part when you told us about the court reporter. I like the rest of the courthouse too. P.S. You are nice.”


“Dear Judge Kimes,

Thank you Mr. Kimes for you allowing us to go in the courtroom during a real meeting. To my surprise I saw someone I knew in the jury seats. I liked the court reporter. I learned one of the attorneys had six children.”


“Judge Kimes believes that second graders are pretty impressionable, and it is very important to introduce as many young people as possible to the judicial system,” Hargen said. “In addition, the class is obviously very fortunate to have such a wonderful teacher as Karen Taylor. She has probably given us a few future court reporters.”

In her own thank-you letter to Judge Kimes, Taylor wrote that the students had been talking nonstop about their courtroom experience and that the mere 15 minutes the judge spent with them made a huge educational impact.

“You have taken their potential career choices to a whole new level,” wrote Taylor. “Many have changed their minds and are going to be court reporters, lawyers, jurors, and judges. Many of these students are not aware there is a life outside of Ringgold County. Thank you again for providing a memorable educational opportunity to a few small town, rural Iowa students. As one student stated, ‘Judge Kimes is the bomb!’”