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Beyond the Record with Debra Amos Isbell
LiveDeposition Certified Reporter Spotlight
Name: Debra Amos Isbell (Debbie)
Title: Realtime Court Reporter, Freelance Firm Owner
Certified Court Reporter (CCR) in AL, MS, LA, IL
NCRA’s RPR, RMR, RDR, CRR, RSA
Self-summary in three words:
Preserving the Record
When did you begin your court reporting career?
What sparked your interest in choosing court reporting as a profession?
I went to a private girls high school in Ohio that offered “machine stenography.” The similarity between writing on the machine and playing the piano intrigued me. I built up my speed to 130 words per minute during my junior and senior years of high school and, upon recommendation and guidance from my mentor, I entered the court reporting program at Gadsden Community College in Alabama. Before graduating from the program there, I passed my RPR and was eager to start my freelance career in Mobile, AL.
What advice would you give students or those just entering the field of Court Reporting?
Be patient with your expectations. Obtaining your equipment and writing skills is just the first step to success. There is a huge learning curve in this business; in fact, you never stop learning. Strive for professional demeanor and build a sterling reputation. There are no shortcuts to excellence.
What is your favorite thing about being a reporter?
I truly enjoy working with attorneys and other professionals, having them rely on my abilities and often receiving praise and thanks – especially when providing realtime through LiveDeposition.
As a Court Reporter, what is your worst nightmare or biggest pet peeve?
Being unable to provide the services that my clients expect, whether it be due to physical infirmity or equipment malfunction.
Where is the strangest place you have taken a deposition?
Many years ago, before our local beaches were so built up, there was litigation concerning the construction of condominiums destroying the sand dunes and vegetation holding them in place. We started taking expert depositions in a hotel conference room that quickly moved out to the beach to point out the various species of plants growing in the sand. My writer was computerized so my notes recorded on the RAM without the backup of paper or audio – much too windy.
Our court reporting professor told of a bizarre experience where he reported testimony of an ill witness in a bathroom stall.
What is the funniest thing you have heard during a deposition or in the courtroom?
Hefty attorney arrives in my office for depositions. After settling into the nicest, strongest chair in the conference room, armed with a donut in each hand, he leans way back in the chair and consumes his sweets. The deposition begins. Shortly thereafter he gets out his cell phone and makes a call, whispering at the end of the table while the questioning of the witness continues. Leaning way back in the chair with his feet on the support, we all hear a loud crack. Something gives, the attorney lands on his back on the floor at the end of the table and continues his phone conversation, not missing a beat. Time for a recess.
When not court reporting, how do you spend your free time?
Outdoor activities, attending local functions, traveling, supporting public education, historic preservation.
What do you like most about LiveDeposition?
I like the reaction of the attorneys when they learn the benefits of realtime. LiveDeposition allows for ease of setup and dependability, and I am confident to be applying the latest and most advanced technology.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
It has been an extreme benefit to have met my life partner in court reporting school. (Roy also is a LiveDeposition realtime reporter.) Together we have challenged each other to pass national and state certification exams, learn new technology and obtain continuing education. (And raised a couple of great kids, too!)