PAOLA — District Judge Steven Montgomery knows from experience just how important it is to have a good court reporter.

“The more you do this, the more you realize how essential they are to the process,” Montgomery said. “A court reporter is an officer of the court.”

For the past 11 years, Montgomery and Chief Judge Amy Harth have relied on court reporter Paula McRorey to fulfill those duties, and they haven’t been disappointed.

“Paula’s the best court reporter I’ve been around during my career,” Montgomery said.

Now, though, the judges are in search of a new court reporter following McRorey’s retirement. Her last day was Friday, Sept. 6, and a reception was held inside the main courtroom at the Miami County Courthouse.

It’s the same courtroom McRorey has sat in countless times before, typing from her seat in front of the bench and recording everything said during court proceedings.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to be the guardian of the record,” McRorey told her colleagues during the reception. “I’ll always treasure all these friendships and memories.”

Several Miami County District Court staff members past and present attended the reception, including Montgomery, Harth and District Magistrate Judge Valorie Leblanc.

McRorey’s family members also were present, including her husband, Robert, and son, Kyle.

The reception was not without its share of laughs as stories were shared, especially when Judge Montgomery pointed out how McRorey would unabashedly call out attorneys if she couldn’t understand what they were saying.

“If you’re a judge, you really appreciate that,” Montgomery said.

Judge Harth agreed, and added that she will miss seeing McRorey every day.

“Personally, I’m losing a trusted colleague, someone who demonstrated a willingness to go beyond what is required, and a very dear friend,” Harth said.

She specifically mentioned how she will miss the way McRorey would greet her after she stepped down from the bench following a long and difficult day of court.

“She’d sigh and say ‘Oh Judge,’” Harth recalled. “It was such a kind expression of empathy.”

During their time working together, McRorey learned how many words Harth speaks a minute, and Harth learned about McRorey’s early days as a court reporter in 1978 using onion skin paper.

McRorey worked as a court reporter in Johnson County for many years and even spent some time freelancing before coming to Miami County District Court as a part-time reporter in 2008. Harth and Montgomery had to share her limited hours until they convinced her to go full-time.

“Being a court reporter is challenging and rewarding,” McRorey said. “I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

Although she doesn’t have any specific plans for her retirement, McRorey said she hopes to travel and take up some new hobbies.

Editor and Publisher Brian McCauley can be reached at (913) 294-2311 or brian.mccauley@miconews.com.

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