NCRA members interviewed by local news in New Orleans

Erminia Uviedo and Donna Karoscik

On Aug. 1, NCRA members Erminia Uviedo, RDR, CRR, CRC, an official court reporter from San Antonio, Texas, and Donna Karoscik, RDR, CRR, CRC, a freelance court reporter from Lancaster, Ohio, were interviewed by station WWLTV Channel 4 in New Orleans about the court reporting and captioning profession and what it’s like to compete in the national Realtime Contest.

Watch here.

Voting results from the 2018 NCRA Annual Business Meeting

NCRA members voted on 12 amendments to the Constitution & Bylaws following the Annual Business Meeting on Aug. 2, which occurred in conjunction with the NCRA Convention & Expo in New Orleans, La. The bylaws amendments ranged from minor, including cleaning up some repetitive language, to more substantial, such as streamlining the voting procedures for amendments and elections. In addition, one amendment proposed changing NCRA’s name to National Captioners and Reporters Association to be inclusive of the captioning profession.

The following are the results of the voting:

Number Name Pass/Fail
1 Voting for Officers and Board of Directors Failed
2 Voting on Bylaws Amendments Passed
3 Clarification of electoral process Passed
4 Elections when more than two candidates are running for the same position Passed
5 Number of Directors on the Board Failed
6 Clarification of the timing of terms of office Passed
7 Elimination of requirement to include a consumer or public member as part of the Council of the Academy of Court Reporters (CAPR) Failed
8 Clarification of electronic mail voting Passed
9 Removal of reference of electronic voting in a business meeting Failed
10 Definition of Voting Members Passed
11 Name change Failed
12 Meeting reference Passed

 

The Constitution & Bylaws permits all eligible NCRA voting members to vote through electronic means on Bylaws amendments and contested Board of Directors elections. Eligible voting members participated through a private, secure link during the 12-hour voting period.

During the Annual Business Meeting, members also voted to fill unoccupied spaces on the Board of Directors resulting from the promotion of several Directors to Officer positions on the Board.

More industry leaders commit to advancing the court reporting and captioning professions

KLTV in Tyler, Texas, and Markets Business Insider posted a press release issued by NCRA on July 30 announcing that three major industry leaders serving or representing the court reporting and captioning professions have signed on to the Association’s Corporate Partnership Program.

KLTV story.

Markets Business Insider story.

Shortage of stenographers hits Queens, N.Y., courts

A July 26 article in the Queens [N.Y.] Daily Eagle focused on the shortage of court reporters and captioners. The article includes quote from NCRA members Michelle Houston, RPR, and Eric Allen.

Read more.

STUDENT PERSPECTIVE: Six Students Shadow Captioners During HLAA Conference

By Deanna P. Baker

Student captioners at 2018 HLAA

Six students, all from Anoka Technical College, attended the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) conference I was captioning to learn more about the practice of captioning. It was wonderful to get to know this group of students. I had captioned this event for 25 years in a row, and I loved sharing my experience with the students that came out those days.

Since the HLAA conference was held in Minneapolis, Minn., two of the local captioners on the team, Angie Sundell, RMR, CRR, CRC, and Lisa Richardson, RPR, CRR, CRC, who are also on the advisory board of Anoka College, worked with Anoka Tech reporting instructor Jennifer Sati, RMR, CRR, CRC, CRI, to invite local students to shadow at the annual HLAA conference. We thought it was a great chance for the students to write some sessions – for their own personal benefit – and see CART captioners and their team at work. And several of them really jumped at the opportunity.

The captioning team for the 2018 HLAA Conference: back row: Megan Stumm, Angie Sundell, Lisa Richardson, Lori Morrow, and Whitney Riley; Front row: Kristi Artzen, Lisa Johnston, Deanna Baker, Lori Yeager Stavropoulos, and Sharon Vivian. (Not pictured: Jayne Carriker)

The captioning team for the 2018 HLAA Conference. Back row: Megan Stumm, Angie Sundell, Lisa Richardson, Lori Morrow, and Whitney Riley; Front row: Kristi Arntzen, Lisa Johnston, Deanna Baker, Lori Yeager Stavropoulos, and Sharon Vivian. (Not pictured: Jayne Carriker)

My thanks go to all of the people on the captioning team who not only rocked the HLAA conference this year but made this a great experience for the students. In addition to myself, Angie, and Lisa, our team consisted of:

  • Kristi Arntzen, RPR, CRR
  • Jayne Carriker, RPR, CRC
  • Lisa B. Johnston, RMR, CRR, CRC
  • Lori Morrow, RMR, CRR, CRC
  • Whitney Riley, RPR, CRR, CRC, CRI
  • Lori Yeager Stavropoulos, RPR, CRR, CRC
  • Megan Stumm
  • Sharon K. Vivian, RPR, CRR, CRC
  • Scott Smith, who provided technical support for our CART captioning team

When I reached out to the students after the HLAA conference, I asked them several questions, from why they volunteered to what they expected and what they learned from the day. All of them said that it was a true learning experience, and for several it either reinforced for them why they were working so hard to graduate or it gave them new insight into the opportunities that lay ahead for them.

Here is a little of the experience through their eyes.

Expectations vs. reality

I asked the students what they expected and how the actual experience matched or differed from their expectations.

“I anticipated a lot of stress and not much interaction with the CART provider because of the nature of the job,” said Kaurie Jeske, one of the Anoka students. “That was not the case! Before the job I was introduced to the CART provider, who seemed very happy to let me sit in and learn. Other members of the team providing services elsewhere also came and went before the ceremony started, and I came to understand what a close-knit group of people this group really is. Everyone seemed genuinely excited that students were coming in to shadow them.”

“I was expecting everyone to be talking so fast that I wouldn’t be able to keep up at all, and I was a bit nervous about the whole experience,” said Ryan Judge. “We were told beforehand that nobody was going to be seeing our writing, which helped a lot with the anxiety. When I got there, everyone was so nice that all the leftover jitters faded away.”

“When I got to the convention and started writing, the professional calm that the captioners exuded immediately put me at ease,” said Samantha Robinson. “They assured me that with practice and dedication that I would be able to do this after graduation.”

“It was mostly in line with what I had heard about captioning, except both the ability of the reporter and speed of the dictation she had to write was very impressive,” said Megan Bidney. “I was expecting more drops or paraphrasing, but there was nearly none of that.”

A test of skills

Because the point of the students coming out was to learn more about themselves, I wanted to know what they were going to put into action moving forward. All of them found that the experience reinforced what they already knew they could do, and many of them responded with plans to double their efforts on certain aspects of their training.

“It was a true test of my endurance level,” said Davis Wille, another one of the students. “Seeing firsthand the stresses involved with handling technology at a live event was definitely somewhat anxiety-inducing. I expected this issue might be a deterrent for me wanting to explore the CART field, but watching Lisa and Angie remain calm and level-headed reiterated that it’s simply part of the job. It’s manageable when you’ve had plenty of experience behind you. It’s a field I’d be much more curious to explore now.”

Judge agreed: “I think the biggest thing I am going to do is work on endurance. There were certainly some points where I was getting quite uncomfortable and wanted a break, but you can’t just stop when you’re on the job.”

“I will be focusing on accuracy! I have never been the cleanest writer, but I can read through my blunders,” said Jeske. “Now I am tailoring my practice more to focus on being accurate and getting a lot more out of my practice time.”

“The biggest difference I noticed was that the captioner I worked with would include flourishes such as ‘applause’ and ‘laughter’ to convey the reaction of the audience,” said recent graduate Tom Piltoff.

The big take-away

When I asked what they had learned by attending the convention, the students’ replies were varied.

“That the steno community is huge and welcoming,” said Piltoff. (I think this is my personal favorite, and I’m glad that these six students were able to experience the camaraderie that is part of this profession so early on in their careers.)

“I learned that I need to continue practicing more to be at that level, but also that it is actually possible to write at that level,” said Bidney.

“The most valuable lesson I took away was that it isn’t impossible to keep up with the speaker if I just calm down and focus on writing,” said Judge.

“I heard so many stories from the award presenters and the recipients about the need for these kinds of services,” said Jeske. “I want to be part of something that makes me feel like I’m making a positive impact in the world. This profession definitely does that.”

“The most valuable lesson I took away from the convention was just how thrilled everyone was to see us in attendance and in action,” said Wille. “The attendees were so clearly grateful that I was given an overall boost of confidence in what career path I’ve chosen to enter. It was very exciting.”

“The most valuable thing I took away from this experience is more confidence in myself. I thought it would take me years to get to the point of being able to provide near-flawless captions, but I feel now that I can and will be able to do this sooner than I thought,” said Robinson. “After sitting in with these amazing reporters, I feel like this is exactly what I want to do.”

 

Deanna P. Baker, RMR, of Flagstaff, Ariz.

Deanna P. Baker, FAPR, RMR, is a realtime captioner and captioning consultant based in Flagstaff, Ariz. She can be reached at dpbaker@mindspring.com.

COPE: Guidelines for conduct as an officer of the court

Donna Cascio

By Donna Cascio

“A fair and independent court system is essential to the administration of justice.” That is the first sentence of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s Code of Conduct for Employees of the Unified Judicial System.

How can official reporters, as officers of the court, convey the values of impartiality and fairness that promote the integrity of the judicial system with “the highest standards of professional and ethical conduct”?(1)

We, as officers of the court, have the obligation to promote justice and assist in the effective operation of the justice system.

Of course, we are aware that our own Code of Professional Ethics demands that we be fair and impartial toward each participant and that we be alert to situations that give the impression of a conflict of interest or that give the appearance of partiality or impropriety.

We must be careful to convey that impartiality not only while on the record, but before and after court is in session. Could our actions, innocent as they may seem to us, be construed as favoritism by a stranger? Do your best to keep conversation before court is convened work-related — spellings of witnesses’ names, clarification of representation, updating addresses of counsel, and so forth.

When we are in our familiar surroundings, perhaps working with the same attorneys and court staff year after year, many of whom have become our friends, are we careful to avoid giving the impression of favoritism? Be cognizant of the impression you are making upon strangers, whether counsel or perhaps the parties, by your conversation and actions with familiar attorneys or court personnel.

I advise that when you are whispering or chuckling with the clerk or court officer before the judge comes in the courtroom, think about whether that conduct could appear to be commentary about attorneys or parties in the courtroom.

Please refrain from making that impression on others. Do your utmost to project professionalism in the courtroom, as your behavior is a reflection not only upon the judicial officer for whom you are working, but the entire justice system.

Put yourself in the shoes of a newcomer to your courtroom. Perhaps that newcomer is an attorney, perhaps a litigant. Be aware that your overly friendly conduct toward that newcomer’s opposing counsel or litigant can plant a seed of doubt in the newcomer’s mind. Any conduct that calls into question the impartiality and accuracy of the record is to be avoided.

In one particular jury trial in my court system, members of the court staff were conversing and joking with the court reporter in the courtroom during a recess. The defendant’s girlfriend was in the courtroom at the time and overheard a comment from someone in the group huddled about the court reporter’s desk. The comment was misconstrued by the girlfriend as a racist remark. It definitely was not. It was an innocent comment made by a jury officer, not the court reporter, and not a racist remark; but, taken out of context, that conduct had repercussions.

Not only was that defense attorney successful in requesting a mistrial based on the impression made upon the defendant and his girlfriend and their loss of faith in the integrity of the court personnel and court record, but all court personnel involved were ineligible to be assigned to any future case involving that defendant.

The reminder memo issued by the Court thereafter read, in part, “Remember that your actions as a court employee reflect not only on you, but also on the court and the judge to whom you are assigned.”

The point is that commenting, gesturing, whispering, or giggling can be interpreted by observers as conversation about them and could make them feel apprehensive at the very least, if not downright indignant or disrespected. The best course of action is to conduct yourself in a professional way, courteous to all, and not overly warm and friendly to your acquaintances when strangers are in your midst.

People now, more than ever, need to keep faith in the part of our Pledge of Allegiance that reads “…and justice for all.”

Donna Cascio, FAPR, RDR, CMRS, is a retired official from Somerset, Pa., and a member of the NCRA Committee on Professional Ethics. Questions about ethics can be sent to msavino@ncra.org.

 

(1) See Pennsylvania Rule of Judicial Administration 4006(C). All court reporting personnel are officers of the court with a duty to comply with all court regulations and orders and to maintain the highest standards of professional and ethical conduct.

Captioning word of the month: Tape measure home run

Steve Clark

Below is the third in a series of monthly featured words to help captioners build their dictionaries and knowledge. The words for this series are being provided by Steve Clark, CRC, a captioner from Washington, D.C. Clark captions for Home Team Captions and covers the Baltimore Ravens NFL team  and the Washington Nationals baseball team. Clark also co-chairs NCRA’s Broadcast and CART Captioning Committee.

Since the Major League Baseball All-Star Game was this month, our term this week, tape measure home runcomes from baseball. The link below contains a short video which further describes this term and its very interesting origin.


Tape measure home run

(baseball)

Definition

In baseball, a home run is a hit that allows the batter to run the bases and reach home plate safely. Most often this occurs when the ball is hit fairly over the outfield fence or wall. A tape measure home run is a home run that travels an exceptionally long distance.

Usage     

“The pitch, and Mickey Mantle connects with that one. See you later! Into the upper deck. Talk about a tape measure home run.”

Link

Tape measure home run

 

You can still register on-site for the 2018 NCRA Convention & Expo

Although online registration for NCRA’s 2018 Convention & Expo is closed, you can still register on-site for this premier event taking place Aug. 2-5 at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans, in colorful New Orleans, La.

On-site registration opens Thursday, Aug. 2, at 7 a.m. and closes at 6:30 p.m. Registration is open on Friday, Aug. 3, and Saturday, Aug. 4, from 6:45 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Don’t miss the excitement of this year’s Convention & Expo with highlights that include:

Keynote speaker Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honoré (U.S. Army, Ret.), a 37-year veteran of active service who served as the commander of Joint Task Force Katrina, during which time he became known as the “Category 5 General” for his striking leadership style in coordinating military relief efforts in post-hurricane New Orleans. In addition to sharing insights into his leadership skills with attendees at the premier session, Honoré will write his military story in a special Veterans History Project event. His story will be preserved at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., as part of its VHP program.

An all-inclusive schedule is sure to appeal to anyone in the court reporting, captioning, and legal video professions, and in the educational arena.

Dozens of vendors will showcase the latest in new products and services specifically for the court reporting and captioning professions, including software, equipment, support services, new products, and more.

Other schedule highlights include workshops, business sessions, and Learning Zones that will offer attendees added opportunities to mingle and network; the National Speed and Realtime Contests; and the Member Recognition Gala. Throughout the Convention, attendees can earn up to 2.3 CEUs.

And be sure to stop by the National Court Reporters Foundation booth to enter a raffle to win a one-of-a-kind Luminex steno machine.

For more information about NCRA’s 2018 Convention & Expo or to see the schedule, visit NCRA.org/Convention.

 

Court reporter shortage pushing back trial dates in Horry County

WBTW News, Conway, S.C., aired a story on July 23 about how the national court reporter shortage is having an impact on Horry County courts.

Watch news story.

NCRA member profiled in two articles

NCRA member Bobbi Fisher, RPR, an official court reporter from Myrtle Beach, S.C., was profiled in two articles posted July 19 by myhorrynews.com. The first article discusses her work as a court reporter and the second addresses the nationwide shortage of people entering the profession.

Read Article #1.

Read Article #2.