Veteran Court Reporter Recognized, by Nebraska Supreme Court
BEATRICE – Handling thousands of words and the transcripts that go with them on a weekly basis, a veteran court reporter was recently honored by the State of Nebraska Supreme Court, for 30 years of service.
Kris Riekenberg is District 1 Court reporter in Gage County, and has now served under three different district judges….the late William Rist, Retired Judge Paul Korslund, and now Judge Rick Schreiner.
"I was just out of court reporting school and I came here, and I remember them talking....it wasn't referred to as a Beatrice Six case...but we had a murder case, but it wasn't going to go. They always settle. I'd been here two weeks and it did go to trial. That was my first murder trial, Joseph Edgar White".
That trial was moved to Jefferson County on a change of venue. Riekenberg said a Fairbury trial for a woman convicted of killing her husband, and a dental malpractice case, are also among the notable cases for which she’s been the court reporter.
Over thirty years, Riekenberg says the job has become more efficient. When she began her career, she used a typewriter…..but now stenography is translated into English by computer.
"Technology definitely has changed. What keeps our foot in the door is real time. So we provide real time for the judge, which means I'm writing on my steno machine, it's being converted to English on my computer which then goes to the judge's computer", Riekenberg said.
The veteran state employee talked about having worked in the court for three different district judges.
"Judge Rist was kind of, old school. He may use the copier. Judge Korslund was more technology oriented....Judge Schreiner, too. They do so much more with Judge's portal, which is where they sign the orders. Rarely does Judge Schreiner even look at a paper file anymore, so that has totally changed".
One big change over the years within the First District, has been the caseload.
"Our criminal docket, when I first started with Judge Rist, we had maybe ten, fifteen criminal cases....now we have in the hundreds. Civil docket is not quite as bad, because we have mediation now. People will resolve a lot in mediation, so that has helped us with, you know, custody cases or divorce cases".
Riekenberg formerly served as an officer in a state association of court reporters. She says about half of her job is what people see in court….the reporter doing her work….but the other half is behind the scenes….working on transcripts, filing exhibits and doing committee work for the State Supreme Court. Court reporters can also contract with attorneys for other work.
Riekenberg says there’s a need to entice more people into the profession.
"We have a shortage of court reporters, so we're doing all we can to recruit people, to try to educate them about court reporting....that it's a good way to make a living. You only have to go....it's like a two to three year program, depending on how fast you advance through your speed classes", Riekenberg said.
Court reporters and bailiffs may be the judge’s best friends, given the caseload and scheduling demands… making sure criminal and civil matters stay on track.