New Orleans’ First African-American Court Reporter Retiring After 43 Years of Service

Daryl Duplessie has been a court reporter in New Orleans for the last 43 years. She has been at the court reporter’s table for just about every kind of case imaginable and has seen more than her fair share of convictions, exonerations, and mistrials, all of which have had her as an integral part in establishing a documented record.

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Born and raised in New Orleans, Duplessie took a summer job at the local police department 43 years ago just to have some money to make ends meet. Little did she know that her decision to take that job would be the catalyst for a career that would help dissolve racial barriers in the city she loves so much.

She took the job after seeing an ad in a phone book for court reporting school. She enrolled in the courses and worked in the police department while she studied. So why is this so significant? Because Ms. Duplessie was the first modern-day African-American court reporter ever hired in New Orleans and the first African-American court reporter ever to use a stenograph machine – the standard reporting tool throughout the court reporting profession.

Last week, Duplessie announced her retirement and at the age of 61 says that although she is ready to enter the next stage of her life, she will “greatly miss all of the people and experiences that made [her] job the best job in the world.”

She says that she hasn’t ever really thought much about her role as the city’s first black court reporter because, as she says, “in the job, the responsibilities come first.” Judge Robin D. Pittman, one of three black judges on the bench in New Orleans, says that Duplessie’s presence in the court system inspired her to maintain her pursuit of a career as a Judge regardless of any prejudices around her. She says that Duplessie demonstrated “without words” that any person can do whatever she puts her mind to doing.

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