Nearly four decades have passed since Gloria Inman began her career as an Etowah County court reporter. Then, there were three other court reporters in the county –all men. Although she had not completed the court reporting
program at Gadsden State Community College, she was hired to report for Judge Cyril Smith. Smith’s judgeship was newly created and so was Inman’s position.
“I’ve been the only reporter that has held the position for place number four,” Inman explained. “It was a created position and I was allowed to take it because I was ready.” Finishing her degree by taking night classes, Inman was the first student to graduate from GSCC’s court reporting program. She continued to work for Judge Smith for the next eleven years, which she remembers as very enjoyable.
Inman didn’t always know she wanted to be a court reporter, however. When she was a high school senior, she attended the Cherokee County vocational school where she was enrolled in business and secretarial classes. As a student there, she was introduced to the stenograph machine and learned to use it rather quickly. After graduating high school in 1973, she enrolled in Gadsden State where she continued in the secretarial program.
In the summer of 1974 she started working for the director of the court reporting program. This coupled with her knowledge of the stenograph made the transition from the secretarial program to the court reporting program a natural one. However, Inman and other court reporters make it clear that what they do is not secretarial work.
While there are several differences between court reporting and secretarial work, the most common is the stenograph that traditional court reporters use; it is particularly different from a typewriter or computer keyboard. In fact, court reporters have to learn a very precise and shortened typing system as well as how to transcribe what they record. Additionally, court reporters note that their work is very taxing and extremely tedious. “The challenges of the job are being able to concentrate really hard and having the stamina to be in court all day,” Inman confessed. “The deadlines can be very stressful.”
Of course, she recognizes that the field is changing, but sees it as a positive thing. Inman boasts that court reporting is a good career for anyone, including men. While many see court reporting as a traditionally female career, Inman recalls a time where men filled most of the court reporting positions in America. “At the time I started, it was a male dominated field,” Inman explains. “A majority of the reporters were coming from Texas, but when Gadsden State began their program it started to become a mostly female career in this area and others.”
Court reporters no longer have one steady role in America with the emergence of the digital age; some reporters no longer use the stenograph at all. While some believe this is hindering the field, others see it as a way for court reporters to expand their skills and branch out into other areas. “There are so many more opportunities now that it’s a good field for anyone to go into,” Inman said. “There is a wider range of options than just regular reporting like real time or judicial reporting –or you could do freelance.”
Although Inman welcomes the changes she says that traditional court reporting is still a good option for anyone looking for more consistent work hours. In fact, she still loves that aspect of her job after all these years. Currently, Inman is the court reporter for Judge William Rhea III, a position she has held for the last twenty-six years. “It’s been a very good career for me. I’ve met and worked with wonderful people who have all been very encouraging,” she beamed.
The instructors and staff at Gadsden State are certainly amongst that group of people. “All of the instructors, especially Marie Whitaker and Robert Miller, were eager to help me and share their knowledge with me,” she said. “They took a personal interest in my success and encouraged me.”
Gloria Inman plans to continue working in her position for many years and hopes that others will consider court reporting in one of its many forms when choosing a career in the future.
Gloria Inman is married to Donnie Inman. The couple has two children Lora (Brett) Causey and Dustin (Felicia) Inman. They also have four grandchildren; Parker, Hudson, Hadley and Dexter.