The Kings County Supreme Court named Frances Napoli Employee of the Year in the court reporter category at a ceremony at the Adams Street court on Wednesday.
“Sometimes we take court reporters for granted,” said Justice Betsy Barros as she introduced the award. “It’s a very difficult job keeping the records and dealing with the various personalities of the court.
“She’s a consummate professional, humane, and most importantly the liaison between the staff and her boss Keith Olarnick. She’s a wonderful person and she does her job very well.”
The Employee of the Year Award, which was created in part by former state Supreme Court Joseph Bruno in 1999, is administered today by Justice Barros. It is meant to be a morale booster for the court, which is one of the busiest and overcrowded in the state.
There are four categories: 1) court clerks, 2) court officers, 3) “chambers and law department” and 4) “court reporters and miscellaneous.” The one for court reporters and miscellaneous was supposed to be the last category awarded in 2012, but it was delayed by the events of Hurricane Sandy.
Court reporters, or court stenographers, are state employees who transcribe any spoken word or recorded speech in the court using a shorthand machine that uses only 26 keys. Each key represents a letter, but a few represent words. So with the stroke of a few keys an entire sentence can be written.
Napoli was presented with the Employee of the Year award and was cited as being a professional who not only does her own job very well but is instrumental in helping her fellow employees, judges and attorneys as well.
Justice Lawrence Knipel also spoke in praise of Napoli and cited an example of her work as going above and beyond the call of duty.
“Recently there was an instance where a soldier needed a copy of his sentence transcript at the last minute so he could leave with his unit on time,” Knipel said. “Frances personally transcribed the notes at the last minute in order to get it for him in time.”
Justice Knipel also praised her for being an animal lover and mentioned her work with “Love and Hope Animal Sanctuary,” which was established by Justice Virginia E. Yancey.
Chief Court Reporter Keith Olarnick presented her with the award and joked that she was so humbled when she’d heard the news that she had requested a cardboard cutout of herself attend the ceremony in her place.
“When Frances found out she was stunned,” Olarnick explained. “I wasn’t the one who told her. It was Judge [Barry] Kamins who told her, and she immediately stated how much trouble I was in. After that I got the silent treatment.”
Napoli was clearly floored by the honor and attention that came with the award. Her speech was short and filled with thanks for all of her co-workers of the court. “They’ve always had my back when I needed them,” Napoli said.
“I am very grateful for the award,” Napoli said. “It’s 28 years later and I still love this job. It’s been a journey that has been challenging, but very rewarding and quite fulfilling.”