OKLAHOMA CITY - If you haven't been in a courtroom, you may not know what a court reporter does. Those are the people who type out -- in real time -- what's being said in court.

The problem is 45 percent of all of the state's court reporters are up for retirement and could leave their jobs today if they wanted. 

Court reporters are essential to court proceedings and are often mandatory for criminal, juvenile and mental health cases. They're also often used during depositions and civil hearings. 

Without replacements for these reporters, courts will have to begin making decisions about which cases should be heard first, meaning some cases could fall by the wayside and be stalled for years. An outcome like that could lead to crimes passing their statutory limitations and keeping people in jail for months.

Now, with the urging of the State's top judge, officials are hoping to stop a crisis before it starts. 

"The chief justice had an idea and he visited with Gordon Cooper Career Tech and the superintendent there. We're working to start a program through career that will start this January, starting this semester," Administrative Director of the Courts Jari Askins said.

That program is a two-year program where students will learn the skills of typing as a court reporter and the ins and outs of court proceedings. The hope is the new program will spark more interest in high schools and high school students looking for jobs after graduation.