LAST LAUGH: That’s my attorney for ya

That’s sooooooo Portland
Q. What does your wife do for a living?
A. She is a baker.
Q. And where does she work?
A. In Portland.
Q. And who does she work for?
A. Liberated Baking. It’s gluten-free.
Q. I think that’s the only baked products you can sell in Portland now.
A. I know. Or if it has kale in it.
Q. Has your wife always been a baker?
A. No.
Q. Or has she done something else?
A. She’s done other things as well. She’s been a butcher and a baker. We keep joking what’s next.
Juliane Petersen
Beaverton, Ore.

Some days I feel like it
A. Uh huh.
Q. That’s a “yes”?
A. “Yes.” Sorry.
Q. You and I communicate fine. The court reporter needs a little help, especially after she’s been drinking.
Melody Jeffries Peters, RDR, CRR, CRC
Missoula, Mont.

Risks? What risks?
Q. Does that mean that there are costs associated with those risks that also aren’t covered by insurance?
A. You said “those risks.” What risks?
Q. “Those risks” are “these risks” as used in that sentence.
Laurie Collins, RPR
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Take a bath
Q. Just so I have a clean record, Dr. Stockman —
A. Sure.
Q. — can you identify idiopathic for me?
A. Idiopathic means of undetermined cause.
Q. Thank you.
A. Or some people would say because your doctor is an idiot.
Q. Alternatively.
A. Alternatively, yes
Cinnamon Boyle, RPR, CRR
Fate, Texas

A riddle a day
A. There is an infinity of issues on which I didn’t make notes about what didn’t happen.
Q. You mean, didn’t put in your affidavit what didn’t happen?
A. That’s right. I didn’t put in my affidavit that I didn’t make an infinity of, an infinite number of notes on what didn’t happen.
Deborah Elderhorst
Toronto, Ontario

A room with a view
(The defendant had just been told his at formal arraignment he would plead guilty and get out of jail but formal arraignment was two months away.)
THE DEFENDANT: That’s a long time.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I’m going to try to get you in ahead of time.
THE JUDGE: The wheels of justice grind slowly, but they do grind.
THE DEFENDANT: I hope I can get in the kitchen unit.
Karen Noel
Easton, Pa.

Higher power
MR. BOOTH: Fair enough. All right. We have a document we’re going to introduce as our exhibit next in line. God knows what the number is.
THE REPORTER: God does know, and it’s 169.
Leah Nelson
Wyoming, Pa.

In the hot seat
(Talking about a fast and furious email exchange between the witness and his broker.)
Q. And he answered you from the dentist chair; right?
A. I assume he was at the dentist. I wasn’t there with him, unless I was the dentist. At this time I might have pulled out a few teeth.
Robin Nodland, FAPR, RDR, CRR
Portland, Ore.

It’s who you know
MR. SANDERS: Has anyone ever worked with an attorney or have a close friend or family member who was a practicing attorney?
JUROR: Aside from the judge’s family — her father, sisters, uncle, and the lot — a lot of my son’s friends are attorneys. And other friends of mine are attorneys, too. There’s several attorneys I have called friends.
MR. SANDERS: You need better friends.
Liebe Stevenson, RMR
Liberty, Mo.

The power of a subpoena
Q. Is there concern on your part about testifying today, about the possibility that Mr. Plaintiff may retaliate against the raceway?
A. Do I have to answer that?
THE COURT: Well —
A. A loaded question. Do I have to answer it?
THE COURT: Yes.
A. I mean, I’d be a numbskull if it wasn’t of some concern. But I’m not here because I’m afraid. I was subpoenaed.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You’re not here voluntarily.
A. Correct.
Q. You did not want to testify.
A. No. Why would — why would anybody want to sit in court?
THE COURT: Well, I get paid.
THE WITNESS: I’m not.
Jan Hunnicutt, RPR, CRR
Santa Rosa, Calif.

Fractured memories
The following is an excerpt of colloquy during a deposition where a very contentious attorney was attending telephonically. After repeatedly interrupting and talking over the witness, the other present attorney had to call his name seven times before he finally stopped talking:

MR. SMITH: Joe, you are making it extremely difficult for the court reporter. You are trying to talk over the witness’s testimony. You cannot do that especially when you’re attending by telephone. So, if you would, do not talk over the witness again, please.
MR. JONES: I didn’t realize that was occurring, so I don’t mean — okay.
MR. SMITH: Well, when I start screaming your name, that means you need to stop talking because your witness is still speaking, okay? Now, Joe, ask your question, please.
MR. JONES: Well, after that lecture, I don’t quite remember it.
Angeli English
DIberville, Miss.

Fall fashion questions
Q. Had he lost weight so that his shorts were too big?
A. His shorts were a little loose-fitting.
Q. So if he didn’t hold them up, would they slip down?
A. They weren’t down below his butt, but they were probably below the normal waistline.
Q. Below where a guy like me would wear them, an older guy?
A. Yes.
PLAINTIFF COUNSEL: Objection. Normally you wear yours up under your breasts.
DEFENSE COUNSEL: I’m not quite there yet, but soon.
Lora Appino Barnett, RPR, RMR
Overland Park, Kan.

When antecedents matter
BY MR. SMITH:
Q. And are you still currently married?
A. Yes.
Q. All right. And is that the same marriage from 1970?
A. Yes.
Q. Congratulations.
A. Thank you.
Q. Working on ten myself in a month or two, so…
MS. JONES: Ten marriages?
MR. SMITH: Ten years, not ten marriages. Should have clarified on that one.
Jeni Bartel, RPR, CSR
La Mesa, Calif.

My attorney thinks he’s funny
Q. If I ask a question and the question calls for a yes or no, affirmative or negative response, even though you and I can communicate just fine by nods of the head or shrugs of the shoulders or “uh huh,” the severe — and I do mean severe — limitations of the court reporter prevent us from being able to communicate that way and have it recorded.
She’s my court reporter for 25 years or longer and I always talk about her limitations in depositions.
Doreen Sutton, FAPR, RPR
Scottsdale, Ariz.

Flip or flop?
Q. You’re not going to be able to sell it for loft apartments downtown?
A. Right. The view of the unkempt lot across the street.
MR. DOE: Hipsters will live there anyway.
Elsa Jorgensen
Birmingham, Mich.

Court reporters help vets’ stories live on

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyOn Nov. 20, the Courier Tribune posted a photo with a caption from a Veterans History Project hosted by the Missouri Court Reporters Association.

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NCRA MEMBER PROFILE: Terra Torres, RMR, CRR, CRC

Resides:  Appleton, Wis.

Terra Torres, RMR, CRR, CRC

Terra Torres, RMR, CRR, CRC

Employment type: Official reporter

Member since: 1996

Graduated from: Gateway Technical College

Why did you decide to enter this profession, and how did you learn about the career?

I was a straight-A student but didn’t have the approval of my parents to attend a four-year college. My high-school counselor knew of this and told me I could still have a good career by attending a tech school and becoming a court reporter. I didn’t even know what a court reporter was at the time but the promise of a good salary and only two years of schooling drew me.

What has been your best work experience so far in your career?

Whenever I provide realtime, I feel both scared and incredibly proud of myself. It’s always challenging but also the only way we can distinguish ourselves from electronic recording and set ourselves as an integral part of the courtroom.

What do you consider your greatest professional accomplishment?

Passing the RMR, CRR, and CRC exams.

What was your biggest hurdle to overcome, and how did you do so?

My biggest hurdle to overcome in this profession has always been confidence. I had the skills but I’d walk into a deposition very timid with counsel and nervous about what I’d encounter. It took a long time to realize I needed to get over my fears and that I was good enough. My advice to newer reporters is still practice your writing skills after graduation, and then don’t be afraid to accept tougher assignments. This will make you better.

Is there something else you would like to share, such as a personal accomplishment?

This job is so sedentary that I believe for health and quality of life reporters need to get moving. I love to both run and lift weights. I’ve run three marathons, a few half marathons and 10Ks, and recently competed in the Figure division of an NPC bodybuilding show.

Phoenix court reporting firm offers advice to first-time deponents

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyIn a press release issued Nov. 20, Marty Herder, president of Herder and Associates, Phoenix, Ariz., offered advice to first-time deponents and the counsel that calls them. This advice included letting the witness know to only answer what they are asked.

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The November/December issue of HLAA magazine features NCRF’s HOHH Project

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyThe latest issue of the Hearing Loss Association of America’s membership magazine features an article about the Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project in an article authored by April Weiner, Manager of the National Court Reporters Foundation. NCRF launched the program, which is funded by an innovation grant awarded by the American Society of Association Executives.

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Blog interviews curator of Gallery of Shorthand

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyA blog on the Brooks Court Reporting website included an interview with NCRA member Dom Tursi, the creator and director of the Gallery of Shorthand. The gallery, which houses exhibits explaining the history of court reporting, is located in the Alfonse M. D’Amato Federal Courthouse in Central Islip, N.Y.

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Local bar association offers new attorneys advice about ensuring an accurate record

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyAn event hosted by the local bar association in Jacksonville, Fla., advised about 50 young attorneys on rookie mistakes to avoid as they begin their careers, according to an article posted Nov. 15 by the Jax Daily Record. Among the pieces of advice given included: “Address the court, not opposing counsel, and refrain from talking when someone else is speaking because that makes it difficult for the stenographer to accurately record the proceedings.”

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DMACC students help pack meals for hurricane victims

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyCourt reporting students from the Des Moines Area Community College in Iowa joined students from the school’s nursing program and hundreds of other volunteers to help package 20,000 meals to help fight hunger, according to an article posted by the Newton Daily News on Nov. 14. The meals will be going to the disaster relief effort in Puerto Rico.

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Aptus Court Reporting welcomes new business development executive

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyIn a press release issued Nov. 12, Aptus Court Reporting announced that the firm is expanding their presence in Southern California with the addition of Julie Long, who will focus on creating new business relationships while ensuring existing clients continue to receive quality service.

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Maintaining a freelance mind-set in an official world

By Risa Entrekin

Many reporters accept an officialship after years of freelancing and feel they can relax with only one person to keep happy: the judge. After the excitement wanes, however, complacency often manifests itself in job dissatisfaction and frustration. The official who maintains a freelance mind-set in an official world can avoid this and enjoy a successful and pleasant career. Here are a few thoughts on how to succeed at the business of officialships without really trying:

Technology: In this ever-changing world, the steno machine remains a steady, trustworthy foundation upon which we must build an environment to meet client demand. The “client” may be a judge, court administrative staff, a probation or parole officer, attorneys, pro se litigants and their families, or any combination of the above.

As new attorneys emerge on the scene who have been immersed in high-tech gadgetry since before they started kindergarten, the reporter’s ability to respond to their needs becomes increasingly important. Whether it is emailing transcripts in various formats or live streaming a realtime feed to off-site participants, an awareness of technological advancements and the willingness to acquire the skill and equipment necessary to respond to those advancements is crucial. One way to become familiar with the latest advancements is through technology itself: participating in Facebook groups, watching YouTube “how-to” videos, and attending NCRA and other conferences either in person or remotely.

Maintaining and improving one’s skill is always a worthwhile goal that will benefit the client as well as the reporter. A trial involving technical subject matter will always be extremely challenging, but it can be more successful and less stressful when a reporter is at the top of his or her game. Some courts even offer pay incentives for additional certifications.

Financial considerations: An officialship may create new and challenging financial considerations that are best discussed with an accountant or tax advisor. Although taxes will be withheld from salaried income, it may be necessary for the reporter to file estimated tax payments to avoid underpayment penalties. Keeping transcript income and estimated taxes in a separate account may be helpful.

Keeping good financial records is burdensome and time-consuming, but it is a necessary evil. Some officialships require additional record keeping that can seem like “busy” work to the busy reporter. However, this record keeping is simply a job that must be done. The best attitude to cultivate is one of acceptance instead of procrastination.

Organization: When time is short and days in court are long, a consistent method of organizing work and maintaining records is a necessity. Constantly prioritizing transcript requests is a must. The “Sticky Notes” tool available on the Windows desktop or the use of Microsoft OneNote can assist the reporter to be continually aware of what task needs the most urgent attention.

Proofreading on a mobile device can allow the reporter to make more efficient use of unavoidable time delays. Files can be sent and received from a proofreader using the same technology. Develop a quick and effective way of preparing a job or case dictionary for a realtime feed. This often is the difference between a mediocre and excellent realtime transmission. The official may find it helpful to organize the most urgent tasks at the close of a workday.

Teamwork: Unlike the freelance world where the reporter is often working autonomously, teamwork is extremely important for the official. Officials live in an uncertain world of budget cuts and work study evaluations, and they share their world with courthouse personnel who often do not understand or appreciate the reporter’s contribution. Officials often face threats of being replaced by other technology. The reporter’s best reaction in the face of uncertainty is to become invaluable at the courthouse. As with any public-sector job, the reporter will work with a myriad of people from a variety of backgrounds who possess many different attitudes and work expectations. A reporter should always strive to maintain a professional attitude and keep the interests of justice as his or her top priority.

Teamwork also includes working well with a future team, the reporters who will assume the official reporter positions of the future. Create a method of communicating with the reporters of tomorrow about how records, audio files, rough drafts, and final transcripts are stored. This lasting legacy furthers the cause of justice. An “In Case of Emergency” file which can be easily accessed by others will ease the transition and save time. The file should include passwords, file locations, account numbers, locations of keys, and any other information the court reporter considers important.

Professionalism:  It is human nature to have short memories of positive experiences and lingering memories of negative situations. This is one of many reasons for the official reporter to endeavor to develop and maintain a high degree of professionalism. The NCRA Code of Ethics is an additional incentive. Frankly, another reason to always maintain professional integrity is because the legal community is often relatively small and closely knit. A reporter may not know that the doddering old attorney fumbling with the newfangled evidence presentation method used to be the judge’s law partner or that the intake clerk struggling to get a degree may end up clerking for the judge before he accepts a position with a stellar law firm.

Reporters should always avoid even the appearance of impropriety. The official who becomes complacent about their duties can sometimes relax this standard and become friendlier with attorneys who frequent the courtroom. Giving advice and commenting on a case is always inappropriate, regardless of how well a reporter knows an attorney. The official should treat everyone equally, both in the courtroom and after the fact.

Always strive to honor commitments made for transcript production. Maintain communication with the requesting party throughout the production process if necessary. A late transcript now and then is inevitable and unavoidable, but a late transcript preceded by no communication from the court reporter is unjustifiable.

The official sometimes has more flexibility to volunteer with state and national associations, and yet freelancers often carry the lion’s share of this burden. Officials should encourage students by mentoring them if at all possible. This encourages the student and allows them to be more comfortable in an intimidating setting. This connection with students can benefit both the student and the working reporter. Providing pro bono services or transcribing interviews through NCRA’s Oral Histories Program are other ways officials can contribute to their profession.

An unknown author once said, “Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.” Officials should faithfully preserve the record with skill and professionalism, always being cognizant of their contribution to our collective destiny.

Risa Entrekin, RDR, CRR, CMRS, CPE, is an official based in Montgomery, Ala. She also holds NCRA’s Realtime Systems Administrator certificate. She can be reached at risaentrekin@gmail.com.