Thoughts from a 30-Year Court Reporter, Part I

By February 15, 2017Uncategorized
Court Reporters Milwaukee \ Realtime & Preserving the Record

It’s not uncommon for people to change careers multiple times during their adult life, but court reporters (already certified and reporting) don’t tend to stray from this path all too frequently. While these statements are anecdotal, we feel lucky to have many reporters with Gramann Reporting where this clearly isn’t the case – reporters that began their careers as reporters and are still going strong to this day. One that comes to mind is Julie Poenitsch, who has been reporting for just under 30 years. Julie let us in on her thoughts and advice on reporting as a career, her experience captioning for her church, and the history and future of preserving the record. We’ll share in a series, 

What are three words you would use to describe court reporting? Interesting would be one for sure. I think educational because you’re always learning something new. And I think flexible would be the third one.

How is it interesting? Well everyday is something new. One day you might have a deposition about someone who got their hand caught in a corn picker, and you have an engineer who knows all about that machine. The next day you might have a doctor’s deposition, and the next day an accident deposition. So there’s always something new around the corner. Everyday is different, so that makes it very interesting.

How is it flexible? With being a freelance court reporter, you are able to fit your schedule depending; I kind of work on the days that are the busiest, when we have the most depositions. And it was really flexible when I was bringing up my family. I have three children, all older now, but when they were growing up, it was really easy for me to go on field trips and be part of their school activities, because I could say “Well, I’ll take a deposition on Thursday instead of on Wednesday. “So it was real flexible for raising a family.

Describe what a day on the job looks like. A day on the job can vary because you may have a deposition in the morning or maybe in the afternoon, it may be all day. You really never know how long the deposition is going to go, sometimes they say the deposition is going to go a few hours and sometimes it will go longer. So you have to be ready for that, that your day might not go as you planned. Even your days when you’re on the job are different because your jobs always start at different times.

When you’re not on the job, are you working on your transcripts? Most of the time, I am working on a transcript at home. Sometimes you can get a little distracted and tend to want to do something else around the house, and then you have to work at night a little bit. Or a lot of times when my kids were little, I would do my work at night. After they went to bed, I would kind of start working on transcripts. It wasn’t always where I was working during the day, it would be some evening time, too.

How has your experience with reporting changed since you first came out of college? I think people tend to not be as conscious of the record. I think years ago, people really took their time and made sure that they didn’t talk over each other. And now it seems like people are more conversational in depositions. They don’t really realize sometimes the importance of the record they’re making. And if they’re interrupting each other, and the answer hasn’t been completed…I think people need to be more conscious of the record.

What is one of your favorite highlights of court reporting? Well, I have two very important highlights that I would have never been able to experience had I not been a court reporter. And one of them is that I got to go to Japan for three weeks for depositions in a large case out of Milwaukee here. We were doing depositions of some engineers in Japan regarding the Miller Park roof, the retractable roof. We were taking depositions of Mitsubishi people and so I got to go to Japan for three weeks, and that was a wonderful experience. Considering we were in Japan for three weeks, we really got to immerse ourselves in the culture and it was just a fabulous experience. I learned so much about being there with another culture and the people there were just so nice.

And the other wonderful travelling highlight that I had was I got to go to England for two depositions, so I was there for about a week for those depositions. And that was really a wonderful experience.

What was it like recording a different language, how does that work? We had a translator and as a matter of fact, there were two translators – one that the plaintiff’s side had contracted and then there was an official translator. And it was kind of an interesting experience because I had never had anything like this before, but the witness was answering his questions in Japanese and then the official translator would translate. Then the other person would pipe in and say €œI think that he meant €˜dome’ and not €˜roof’ and they were fighting over the words because there was not an exact translation from English to Japanese. And so it was kind of difficult because they were not agreeing on the exact translation. They were just making sure that the person who was doing the translation was doing it correctly. And if they had an issue with anything that person had translated, they wanted to make sure that they put their ideas on the record as far as what they thought it was.


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