Michigan Electronic Court Reporters honor Valerie Alcorn as Court Reporter of the Year



By Diana L. Coleman
Legal News

One of Muskegon’s own was selected as the Michigan Electronic Court Reporter’s Association’s (MECRA) 2014 Court Reporter of the Year.  Valerie Alcorn is court reporter for the Honorable Maria Ladas Hoopes, Chief Judge of the 60th District Court.

MECRA is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and maintaining excellence through continuing training/educational opportunities and by mentoring; to establishing and maintaining high standards as set forth by the Michigan Supreme Court; and to fostering and maintaining the honor and integrity of the profession of verbatim court reporting while actively serving the public and judicial system of the State of Michigan.

Alcorn was nominated by Judge Ladas Hoopes for the award and the MECRA Board election committee selected her.  Those who know Alcorn know she is a dynamo of energy.  When the MECRA annual meeting was held in Muskegon in 2010 and Alcorn covered it all.  She knew exactly what was happening and when, who was going to speak and when. It was an extreme commitment to take on the annual meeting, but she managed it with flying colors. She not only covered the meeting and associated events but also encouraged all attendees to learn more about our beautiful city and explore the sights while they were in town.

As Alcorn serves on the Board of MECRA, she kept telling them they better get the Reporter of the Year selected so things could be ready for presentation at the annual meeting.  “I kept asking where the committee was with the selection and they kept putting me off,” said Alcorn. “It became obvious why they were not forthcoming about the selection when I received the award at the annual meeting.”

In nominating Alcorn, Judge Ladas Hoopes submitted the following:

It is my honor and privilege to nominate Ms. Valerie Alcorn for MECRA Court Reporter of the Year—2014. I nominate Valerie for three reasons—she has served the court, her professional organization (MECRA), and also her community with an attitude of perfection, gratitude and pride in her work.

First, Valerie began her career as a Michigan court reporter in 1974. I have been privileged to have Valerie as my court reporter since taking the bench in 2006.  It is at all times a priority to Valerie to ensure the record of proceedings is accurate and correct. Yet she also juggles this with the difficult task of being an excellent judicial secretary, and all the while being courteous and generous with her time to the public.

The beautiful aspect about Valerie is she is everything a judge would dream one to be in a court reporter, but also everything the public would dream a public employee to be.  She strives at all times to make a complete and accurate record. If Valerie suspects she did not get something exactly right it bothers her, and I have seen her take extreme measures upon herself to back track something she thinks may not have been correct. Let me stress, this is not a potential error that I, or a party suspects, this is her “telling on herself.” And, I must say, 99% of the time she had it right to begin with!

Moreover, Valerie is literally “poetry in motion” with the public. Serving as a judicial secretary, as well as a court reporter, she maneuvers the telephone calls so professionally. She always ensures people get an answer, and treats everyone with dignity and respect. If she sees someone in the hallway that appears lost or in need of assistance, she always stops to help. Valerie always does everything with a smile. Valerie has also, appropriately, influenced the 60th District Court to advance in technology and security measures. She worked several years for the U.S. Attorney’s office which was more advanced in these areas. Upon returning to the 60th District Court, she helped suggest more progressive measures she had learned regarding technology, security and so forth.

Alcorn is a Muskegon County native and attended school in the Reeths-Puffer and Muskegon systems. She attended Ferris State University and Muskegon Business College. Afterwards, Alcorn began her career in Lansing in 1974 as court reporter for the Honorable Robert L. Drake, Ingham Court Probate judge. She returned to the Muskegon area in 1989 and took a position as secretary to Robert Hagemann, who was the Muskegon City Manager.  In 1990 Alcorn took a position at Community Mental Health. She was raising four children and needed the benefits the position with the court afforded her.

Alcorn was very busy for the next several years as she worked in the prosecutor’s office, worked for 60th District Judge Cole, the U.S. Department of Justice in Grand Rapids, and fif a short stint in Covington,
Kentucky, before she joined Judge Maria Ladas Hoopes when the judge was appointed by Governor Jennifer Granholm in 2006.

While Alcorn definitely shines in her profession, it could equally be said that she is an absolutely amazing mother. She has raised four children and all of them have graduated from college — an incredible legacy.

Her children oldest to youngest are son Stacy Eugene Holt who is a tool and die maker at Shape Corporation; daughter Tonya Willingham who is a procurement specialist at Walker-Miller Energy Services in Detroit; daughter Glenda Walker who is manager of the Cherry Street Health Facility in Grand Rapids; and her son and baby Aaron Hobson who is in the process of obtaining his Ph.D. in Education at Berkley. She also has seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Alcorn, in addition to her professional organization involvement, is very active with the Women’s Division Chamber of Commerce and in her church, and devotes many hours of her time as a youth mentor volunteer for Muskegon’s Michigan Works.

Alcorn’s favorite ways to relax and unwind are to go fishing and camping with her grandchildren. “I just like anything outdoors,” said Alcorn. “I love to camp with the grandchildren at Mitchell State Park in Cadillac. The DNR is on-site at the park and they have an observatory, and interact with the children by programs that teach fishing, shooting, and nature programs.”

How this amazing woman keeps that smile on her face is beyond comprehension.  She takes her licks and gets right back up and charges life head on.  In March 2011, she was teaching at a MECRA conference and returned home to find out her house had burned to the ground while she was away. Devastating, yes.  Enough to keep Alcorn down, absolutely not.

Congratulations, Valerie.  Although it may be tempting, authority has it that you cannot retire as long as Judge Ladas Hoopes in on the bench.