By Danielle Griffin
Shelley Duhon, an official court reporter, was always interested in court reporting ever since she saw court reporters writing on their machines on TV and in movies such as Ghostbusters II. When she completed high school, she decided she wanted to pursue court reporting school. The only problem: There weren’t any schools available in her area. Without knowing a single working court reporter, she started and completed all of her schooling online! Shelley believes the discipline learned through playing flute and piano from when she was young all the way through high school was key to giving her the tools she needed to practice for many hours and to reach the goal of finishing court reporting school. She is so proud to be a newly working court reporter and loves being in this profession.
Where did you go to school?
I am so proud to say I graduated from College of Court Reporting online in 2015. I started and completed all of my schooling online! I started at the Court Reporting Institute of Dallas and finished at the College of Court Reporting.
Where are you from, and where do you work?
I am from Louisiana, but I have lived in Atlanta for the last seven years. I currently live in McDonough, Ga., and commute an hour each way to work.
I work at Macon-Bibb County Superior Court in Macon. I started working there in September of 2016. I am currently the only stenographer! I feel like this gives me an extra advantage to be able to produce rough drafts or daily copies. Because there is a shortage of court reporters in my area, I have also had the opportunity to travel to the local circuit courts with my judge and love getting the experience traveling.
What’s the coolest experience you have had working in the profession?
Currently, there are a lot of production companies that come out to Atlanta to shoot their films. While I was in school, I had the opportunity to work on the TV sets of:
Drop Dead Diva on Lifetime
- Rectify on Sundance
- Satisfaction on USA
- Game of Silence on NBC
- Red Band Society on ABC
- The Jury on ABC
- Tyler Perry’s The Haves and Have Nots on OWN Network
This all came about from a casting call that went out on the local news station. I sent in my information, and I got a call to work on the set of Drop Dead Diva! I was so excited to be there, and I ended up meeting and becoming acquaintances with the producers on the TV show. Since that time, they must have put me on their list because they have continuously called me ever since. It has been an experience I won’t ever soon forget.
What is something you wish you would have known before you started working as a new professional?
One thing I wish I knew is that it is okay to move my chair and sit closer to the jury during voir dire. Make sure you sit where you can hear. Get a digital recorder. It is nice to have a second or third backup just in case.
Never be afraid to interrupt and tell the judge to get a witness to speak up, especially when they are giving nods of the head.
Find out if there is a time limit on getting transcripts turned in, so you won’t have to rush last minute.
Get a mentor and work with them. Meet them for lunch on the weekends. Call and ask questions. There is never a stupid question.
Stay current with your national and state association policies. They are there to assist you.
What is your favorite part about working as a court reporter?
I feel most accomplished when I am writing clean. Some days, attorneys will request of me to get out a daily copy, and it makes me so thankful for the skill I have as a court reporter. This is truly why I went to school.
What are your next goals as a court reporter? What are you working towards next?
After I pass my last test of the RPR, I will be working on getting the CRR. I would like to provide realtime on a continuous basis in the future.
I am also trying to work on balance between my work and personal life. I knew coming into this industry that I wouldn’t have much of a life starting off, but now that I am settling in, I am trying to work on finding more balance. Meeting with other working reporters and mentors helps too. It is always so nice to be able to hear other perspectives.
I am planning on attending the NCRA Convention & Expo this year in Las Vegas and can’t wait to meet more reporters. I am so proud to be a working court reporter and a new professional!
Danielle Griffin, RPR, is a freelancer in Phoenix, Ariz., and a member of the New Professionals Committee. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.