March 2023 –
When I joined the Executive Committee of USCRA, I could not have imagined the challenges that our association would face. I am proud to have been a part of the leadership that worked to preserve this association by forming a new entity, creating the current bylaws, and obtaining non-profit status. USCRA is unique in that this association is run entirely by volunteers. Every person doing the work of the association, whether by serving on the Board of Directors or serving on a committee, is someone who selflessly donates their time to the preservation of our role in the federal judiciary.
There is much association work that goes on behind the scenes each day. Every email that is responded to, every email blast that is sent, every convention that is held, every FCRR Examination that is proctored, every issue of The Circuit Rider that gets published happens because of your fellow member volunteers. We wouldn’t be where we are today without them. For our profession to not only survive the challenges ahead of us but thrive as we continue forward, it is time that each of us take ownership in this association and do our part advocating for each other and for our profession as a whole.
Federal reporters serving on the Court Reporter Advisory Group played an integral role in advocating for and promoting the recent transcript page rate increase adopted by the Judicial Conference in September. While there have been grumblings that this transcript page rate increase doesn’t go into effect until October 2023, the persistence of those advocating for federal reporters cannot be overstated, and it shouldn’t be overlooked. Though it took years to accomplish this long-overdue increase, we also know that it is just the first step in obtaining fair compensation for federal reporters.
Many of us are aware that we haven’t had a meaningful salary increase since the early 1970s. USCRA continues to try to find constructive ways to propose pay raises, and it continues to be a recurring theme for those who serve on CRAG as we work together to rectify the perceived shortage of qualified applicants for federal official reporter positions. As we begin this journey to find ways to compensate federal reporters commensurate with the skill and level of expertise that is demanded, it is important to understand the desperation of those looking to fill open positions.
As 2023 begins to take shape, it will be important for each of you to assess the positive ways you contribute to your chambers, courthouse, and clerk’s office. If you haven’t already, begin building relationships with every judge in your courthouse and make yourself invaluable to the courts in which you serve. It is my belief that it will be the judges who will prove to be our biggest allies, as they are the ones most directly affected by the proposed changes, and it is their voices that will speak the loudest. It is more important than ever that this grassroots effort in building relationships takes place so that when the time comes for judges and clerks to advocate for preserving our profession, they are invested in what it is that we offer and provide.
I encourage you to become involved in USCRA and continue in your support of our association. As guardians of the record, we play an integral role in making sure that each defendant’s liberties are protected and that their constitutional rights are safeguarded. In order for appellate courts to perform their function effectively, a verbatim transcript of what happened is essential. I am confident that the key to us thriving as a profession and as an association is by everyone taking ownership in where we are, continuing to work together, and sharing the load and responsibility for the future of federal court reporters. USCRA is the only association that advocates for Federal Official Court Reporters, and as such, it is my desire that USCRA will help preserve our profession in the years to come by solving issues with which we are presented.
As USCRA strives to continue to keep members updated on information affecting federal reporters, it is important to find the balance between encouraging you to advocate for our positions. without causing unnecessary drama or sounding alarm bells. Every new year brings with it unforeseen opportunities, hardships, and a sense of hope. It is my hope that USCRA can find ways to continue to advocate for fair compensation and thereby help to solve the current FOCR shortage in the years ahead. USCRA is stronger when we stand together, and it is more important now than ever that we are united going forward in the fight.
USCRA President 2022-2023