With encouragement from her guidance counselor, Wittler found her passion

"It goes back to my high school guidance counselor, Jake Aho," said Cheri Wittler, Sully Buttes High School Class of 1991, in explaining how she decided to become a court reporter. "We must have been doing some career talk, and I was interested in the law, and also I loved my English courses. He asked me, ‘Have you ever heard of court reporting?’ I hadn’t, but there were a couple of girls in college from Sully Buttes going to court reporting school. I don’t know if it was already arranged, or if it just happened this way, that they came and did a demonstration on court reporting shortly after that. I thought it was really cool, and from then on it was want I wanted to be."

After completing her court reporting program at Stenotype Institute of South Dakota in 1995, Cheri moved to Madison, WI, where she worked as a court reporter for a year. "I wanted to freelance with a large firm in a city," said Cheri. Or so she thought.

She returned to South Dakota and started her freelance court reporting business, Precision Reporting in 1996. "I thought that it was an interesting milestone that I moved into this building twenty years after I began my business," said Cheri about her new building on Main Street.

Precision Reporting operated out of Sioux Falls until Cheri’s marriage to Jesse Wittler in 1998, and her return to Onida. "I rented an office space in Pierre in the Olinger Law Firm building. I wanted to be visible to attorneys in the area."

"And then a wonderful, Jim Robbennolt, who was from Agar and was friends with Jesse’s dad, took me around Pierre and introduced me to attorneys and administrative law judges. He was so nice. He connected me with the people I needed to know," said Cheri.

Cheri worked for a time as a Federal Court Reporter for a United States District Judge in the Federal Building in Pierre. After a year-and-a-half with the federal court system, Cheri resumed her Precision Reporting enterprise. "I missed freelancing, and the flexibility that comes with it, especially with having kids and being able to be there with them when something comes up." Cheri says that her freelance jobs bring her to many different places, whereas with her federal position, she was "in the same office and courtroom daily."

The office hours work well with the needs of her family. "I drop my kids off at school in the morning, and then I come to my office and work until they’re done with school."

Cheri says that most of her work is in Pierre, but that jobs take her all over the state, from Winner to Huron to Mobridge. "I occasionally end up in small towns for depositions," said Cheri. "I like to drive around and explore places I wouldn’t get to, except I have a job there. A lot of times I’ll be there for morning jobs that last into the afternoon, and if I have time, I like to check out their Main Street businesses, especially grocery stores, and see what kinds of regional items they have."

Cheri combines her work as a court reporter, where she is mostly silent, with a position as a Cabi Stylist. "This is my third season as a Cabi Stylist," said Cheri. "I love that Cabi offers a variety of clothing from business suits to casual items like leggings and sweatshirts. I enjoy keeping my clients up to date on the latest trends and helping them build their wardrobe or finish a look with a piece from our jewelry collection. I joke that I don’t speak much during my day job, so I really enjoy when I get up to give a presentation and talk."

Traveling for depositions takes Cheri out of the office two or three days a week. "The other days I’m in the office, which is really convenient for my family." Cheri says that it takes her two and a half times as long to transcribe a hearing as the hearing actually was. "if I go somewhere and do a three-hour deposition, I’ll come back to my office and put about another seven-and-a-half hours into it. I read through and edit the entire transcript, and then print it, and then read it again on paper. And then there’s final printing, binding and billing – all that kind of stuff. Most of the work is after the fact."

According to Cheri, a common misconception regarding court reporters is that the job is becoming obsolete. "Court reporters are not on their way out. Ever since I started court reporting school in 1991, there was talk of court reporters being replaced by recorders. Some court systems have tried it, and a lot of times there’s a failure and they go back to hiring their court reporters back."

"South Dakota in particular is a great place for court reporters to work, because we are respected by attorneys and judges. They respect what we do and know how important it is to have a reporter there, present, and how much more accurate of a record you get than a recording, so we’re lucky, because we have their support."

"It’s a job I love. I can’t imagine doing anything else."

Cheri and her husband Jesse have four children, Nick, a freshman; Marshall in 6th grade; Stevie in 5th grade; and Wesley in 3rd.