VOL. 124 | NO. 237 | Thursday, December 3, 2009
Houston Appointed by Governor To State Court Reporting Board
By Rebekah Hearn
Earl W. Houston II
Firm: Martin, Tate, Morrow & Marston PC
Basics: Houston has been appointed to the newly formed Tennessee Board of Court Reporting.
“ … The newly formed board has the honored task of adopting a set of proposed rules, which will regulate the profession.”– Earl W. Houston II
Earl W. Houston II, a member of Martin, Tate, Morrow & Marston PC’s litigation section, was appointed recently to the newly formed Tennessee Board of Court Reporting by Gov. Phil Bredesen.
The Tennessee General Assembly established the board earlier this year. The seven-member board is charged with overseeing and maintaining a standard of competency for court reporters. The board also establishes professional qualifications and issues licenses for court reporters. Houston is the only Memphian on the board.
Houston concentrates on general civil litigation, transportation litigation, insurance defense, commercial litigation, personal injury defense, employment law, landlord/tenant relations and collection matters.
He is a member of the Memphis, Tennessee, Mississippi and American bar associations. He also sits on the board of directors for the Federal Bar Association’s Mid-South Chapter.
Q: Many people think that with today’s technology, court reporters are a thing of the past. Are court reporters used with as much frequency today as in prior years?
A: Yes. According to most publications, jobs in the court reporting sector are steadily increasing. Court reporters perform many functions, such as recording official proceedings in courtrooms, taking statements for lawyers during depositions and hearings and recording meetings, conventions and other events outside of the courtroom. Job opportunities for court reporters should increase in the future.
Q: What is the significance of the state creating a board specifically to oversee Tennessee court reporters?
A: The purpose of the board is to protect the general public by ensuring the integrity of judicial records through oversight of the court reporting profession. Effective July 1, all court reporters in the state of Tennessee will be required to become licensed in this state to continue in the profession. To this end, the newly formed board has the honored task of adopting a set of proposed rules, which will regulate the profession. Court reporters play a critical role not only in judicial proceedings, but also at every meeting where the spoken word must be preserved as a written transcript. They are responsible for ensuring a complete, accurate and secure legal record. In addition to preparing and protecting the legal record, many court reporters assist judges and trial attorneys in a variety of ways, such as organizing and searching for information in the official record or making suggestions to judges and attorneys regarding courtroom administration and procedure.
Q: Much of your practice is dedicated to litigation. What is one of the key techniques you’ve learned to successfully litigate a case?
A: A good trial lawyer in Memphis once told me that dedication and hard work makes a good attorney and she was not joking. To gain success as a young attorney, it takes dedication and hard work. Foremost, you have to understand the law and then apply the law in such a way as to gain a result that is in your client’s best interest. Thus, to answer your question, in my practice I have learned to work hard in performing legal research, make every attempt to understand what is in my client’s best interest and question extensively older peers for tips and secrets of the profession.
Q: Have you seen any area of your litigation practice pick up or slow down with the economic downturn?
A: Yes. Most law firms in Memphis saw a decrease in their litigation files on the corporate defense side. The downturn caused a lot of entities to be financially strapped, which had a direct impact on their decisions to defend against lawsuits and/or initiate lawsuits. Fortunately, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Q: What are your duties as a member of the FBA’s board of directors?
A: My most recent service to the board has been as public relations chair. In this capacity, I have ensured that the board gets the exposure it needs to generate new membership with the Federal Bar. I would like to say to those attorneys who have not attended the Annual Federal Practice Seminar and Judicial Reception presented by the Mid-South Chapter of the FBA in past years, you should make it a priority for your (continuing legal education) requirements next year. It is a great program.