The mission of the Missouri Court Reporters Association (MCRA) is to provide continuing education for court reporters on an annual basis, to promote the professional welfare of court reporters, to encourage high standards of proficiency and ethics among the members of the Association, and to establish and maintain good relations with the public and the Bar.
An Epigrammatic History of MCRA
By Diane Woods and Mary Conway
“We are not makers of history. We are made by history.” This statement was made by Martin Luther King, Jr., activist and civil rights leader. Very little is known about the inception and early years of the state association until around 1945, other than it was formed in 1922 and was dubbed the Missouri Shorthand Reporters Association. Whatever history this organization can claim in between those years must have been exceptional, considering the growth and advancement it has made over these many decades. That development is evidenced by the number of 61 members noted in 1923 increasing to the current roster of 480 in 2011. But it wasn’t until somewhere in the 1940s that the chronicling of its history became more reliable.
Annals show the first president was Walter Seiler from Joplin, who was elected at a special meeting held in 1945. Since that time, there have been a total of 43 who have served in that capacity, with 20 of them in the role of leadership for more than one term. In fact, history was made this last election when Joanne Martin assumed the presidency for the third time since becoming a member in 1975. Joanne, who lives in Chesterfield, Missouri, is a swing reporter in the 22nd Judicial Circuit.
From 1922 until 1991, MSRA contained the word “shorthand,” a descriptive indication of the primary method employed by many of its members, even though there were several seasoned reporters who were pen writers. During this time, the number of members utilizing the stenomask method increased. With an attitude toward inclusiveness and unity, the membership voted to rename the organization the Missouri Court Reporters Association.
It is interesting to note that 15 years before the National Shorthand Reporters Association (now NCRA) created the RPR certification program, MSRA innovatively established its own self-governing program called the Certified Shorthand Reporter at the 1960 MSRA Convention, in which reporters who either qualified for grandfathering or successfully passed the skills examination would have the privilege of carrying the CSR designation behind their names. The program became effective January 1, 1961, and remained active until mandatory certification under Supreme Court Rule 14 for all reporters working statewide was accomplished in 2002. Prior to the Supreme Court rule change that year, only official court reporters were required to hold a Certified Court Reporter certification. That order became effective on January 1, 1975, with the later amendment effective January 1, 2002, to include all working reporters in the state of Missouri.
Although we are more familiar with certification efforts in recent years, there is evidence that reporters were certified in Missouri in the 1880s. Unfortunately, little is known about it.
Through all these years, the Association has successfully promoted the professional interest and welfare of court reporters; encouraged high standards of proficiency and ethics among its members; and has sought to establish and maintain good relations with the public, the judiciary, and the Bar. From its pioneering work in certification, providing continuing education, as well as its constructive efforts for the advancement of reporting technology and professionalism, the Association can definitely take pride in what its history has made it.
Sources: “Missouri Court Reporters Association – 50th Anniversary, 1945-1995”: pp. 7, 24, 75. National Court Reporter Association Website, “History of NCRA: A Turning Point for the Association”