Login | January 22, 2019

Common Pleas chief court reporter assumes OCRA presidency

Legal News Reporter

Published: May 31, 2018

She’s spent the majority of her career as a court reporter and now Summit County Court of Common Pleas Chief Court Reporter Terri Sims has taken the helm as president of the Ohio Court Reporters Association (OCRA).

Sims, who has been a court reporter with the common pleas court and a member of the OCRA for 25 years, began her one-year term on April 14.

“There have been a lot of changes in the profession, especially over the last ten years,” said Sims. “Many court reporters are in their 50s and are looking to retire.

“We’re in danger of facing a shortage of court reporters. As a result, my main goal as president is to promote the profession so that more people will see it as a viable career option.

“I think there is a misconception that court reporting is a dying profession because of technology,” said Sims. “That’s simply not true. Court reporters are embracing the latest technology, which allows us to create transcripts in real time that can be sent to iPhones, iPads and laptops. We are not going anywhere and I plan to do my part to make that clear.”

Sims takes over for Douglas Bettis, an official court reporter in the Carroll County Common Pleas Court, who is now the immediate past president of the organization.

“Terri and I first started working together when she joined the fundraising committee for OCRA,” said Bettis.

“I think Terri is an excellent choice for president. “She has a great deal of experience and is a wonderful advocate for the profession,” said Bettis.

“Many people think court reporting is an archaic profession, but the reality is that our machines are state of the art. It’s important to get more people into schools so that they can learn what we really do so we keep the profession alive and prevent a shortage of court reporters.” 

Raised in Kenmore, Sims graduated from Kenmore High School in 1981, where she majored in secretarial studies.

She began her career as a legal secretary for Akron attorney Ralph Maher, enrolling at the Academy of Court Reporting in Cleveland one year later.

Prior to graduating from the academy in 1984, she moved to Houston, Texas and became a freelance court reporter for Stewart & Associates.

When she returned to Ohio, she took a job as a freelance court reporter in Cleveland at Fincun-Mancini.

“I worked there on and off for about eight years, while I raised my three boys,” she said.

Sims began her tenure at the Summit County Common Pleas Court in October 1994.

Since November 2013, she has been assigned to Judge Christine Croce’s court.

“Terri is truly committed to court reporting,” said Judge Croce. “She is very passionate about her job.

“She was appointed chief court reporter and department director three years ago and now in addition to her daily courtroom responsibilities she also supervises the other court reporters.”

In an email, Summit County Common Pleas Court Administrative Judge Amy Corrigall Jones said Sims is “a natural and effective leader because she advocates for her employees but also is one of the hardest working individuals in our courthouse.  

“We are very grateful to have such a talented person in our administration of the General Division.

“We congratulate Ms. Sims on her election to serve as president of the OCRA.  She is a dedicated officer of the court and we are certain that she will apply her experience and expertise to this statewide leadership role.”  

A longtime member of the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA), last year Sims, Bettis and OCRA Executive Director Sarah Nageotte were instrumental in bringing the NCRA’s A to Z Intro to Machine Shorthand program to the Akron-Canton area.

“The A to Z program is a free introduction to steno and gives people a chance to learn some of the basics about steno machines,” said Sims. “We teach them the alphabet and some sentences. It’s a good way for people to decide if they might be interested in pursuing a career as a court reporter without having to spend any money.

“It was offered across Ohio last year and this year OCRA is hoping to offer another program in the Akron-Canton area.”

Sims, who took on her first leadership role as vice president of the OCRA in 2016, said there are a number of career options open to those who study court reporting.

“You do not only have to work in the courts,” Sims said. “Some people go into broadcast captioning or CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation), where you use your skills to assist hearing-impaired students who need someone to take notes for them in class by providing CART services.”

In addition to promoting the profession, Sims said she plans to continue building on the OCRA’s strategic plan, while keeping up with any advances in technology.

She also wants to expand the profession’s working relationships with judges, attorneys and the hard of hearing population.

“Court reporting is an awesome and unique profession, with many exciting changes,” said Sims. “It’s a great career choice and the court has been a wonderful place to work.”