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Recap: The 2023 NCRA Conference & Expo Keynote address by Texas attorney Dennis M. Holmgren

Members of the National Court Reporters Association are meeting this week in Houston, Texas, to celebrate the fields of court reporting, captioning, and legal videography,  at their annual Conference & Expo being held at the Hyatt Regency Houston Downtown.

Invited at the request of President Kristin Anderson, RPR, keynote speaker Texas attorney Dennis M. Holmgren possesses not only a wealth of expertise in the legal realm, but also a profound understanding of the art of court reporting.

“Being an officer of the court is a very, very special and significant designation,” said Holmgren. “You are not simply a contractor retained by a litigant; you, as an officer of the court, have independent duties and responsibilities.”

Licensed in both California and Texas, Holmgren has been practicing law in Texas for more than two decades. He is also licensed as a patent attorney by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

“Why is the record important?” Holmgren asked the audience. “I call this the Vegas rule. The Vegas rule is ‘What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.’ What happens in the trial court stays in the trial court unless it’s part of the record. If its not part of the record, it didn’t happen.”

Holmgren began his remarks by providing an eloquent overview of the role court reporters play in the legal system. After all, he reminded the audience, he is married to one: NCRA STRONG Committee member JoAnn Holmgren. The litigator underscored the crucial importance of court reporters as guardians of the legal record, tasked with capturing verbatim transcripts of legal proceedings with utmost accuracy and precision. Attendees were reminded that court reporters are the silent pillars of justice, ensuring every spoken word is documented faithfully, and justice is served without any ambiguity.

“What you see with some digital competitors is rough drafts — things that are not a transcript,” he warned. “Things that don’t comply with uniform regulations.”

Throughout his remarks, the Texas attorney acknowledged that the landscape of court reporting has changed significantly in recent years while citing cases throughout the 20th century. The audience was encouraged to ethically embrace technology as a powerful ally, streamlining the reporting process while maintaining an unwavering commitment to accuracy and vigilance. He encourages NCRA members to find that balance between embracing technology and preserving core skills, sparking meaningful discussions after his address on how to integrate innovation without compromising the profession’s integrity.“The amount of esteem in which court reporters are held [in the legal community] is phenomenal. You are the glue that holds the courtroom together,” Holmgren declared.