Guardians of the Records

Gabrielle Chambless had her first glimpse of a courtroom at only six years old while snuggling with a blanket and reading books, nestled under her mother’s court reporting desk. Little did she know then how much those early days would have a tremendous impact on her adult life.

Her mom, Kati Vogt, was a court reporter with the Jackson County Chancery Court at the time and then-Chancery Judge Randy “Bubba” Pierce welcomed the young Chambless into the courtroom whenever there was a day off from school or an early dismissal.

“She grew up in a courtroom,” Vogt thoughtfully reminisced. “She would read one of her little books or draw pictures and sit quietly as a mouse, literally on the floor next to my feet hidden under my desk. No one ever even knew she was there except for the courtroom staff.”

And Chambless’ love for court reporting might have started even younger than her days at her mother’s feet. “You could say my path to court reporting was a little curvy,” Vogt said with a laugh. She added she took a typing class in high school and a teacher suggested court reporting to her as a career.

“I was just a really fast typist and she saw that in me,” Vogt said. “But I did not get to start court reporting school until Gabrielle was four years old and finished when she was six. She would see me constantly studying my books while she would draw and color pictures or read her books.”

At the time, Vogt also needed to practice on a stenographer typewriter. “Sometimes while we were studying, she even got to play on my funky little machine,” Vogt said. “She really enjoyed that.”

Despite being so young, Chambless still remembers all of her first courtroom days. “I remember everything from when I was little,” Chambless said. “Sitting under her desk. Playing in the judge’s chambers. We were digging through boxes of stuff mom had in the attic and she found one of my little books. It had a page that asked, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ and I drew a picture of a court reporter. I knew even back then that’s what I wanted to be because she was the one I really looked up to.”

Now an adult, Chambless married the love of her life with Pierce officiating, garnered a marketing degree, and then continued to be a certified court reporter. She and her husband Grayson have two children, a 17-month-old and a two-month-old. And now the mother-daughter court-reporting duo are staples in the Southern District of Mississippi federal court system in Gulfport and Hattiesburg.

“I get to see her all the time and it’s wonderful,” Vogt said. “I know how lucky I am because not many people get to say their kids, not only followed in their footsteps but actually worked with them afterward.”

Chambless has the best of both worlds with her home life and work duties. “It’s definitely been really nice to have a mentor that I’m so close to,” Chambless said of her mom. “She can give me a voice on anything, absolutely anything, the kids or work. I can ask her any question and when I need any kind of guidance, it’s really nice to have her so close.”

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