The JCR Awards recognize innovative business strategies and more

The JCR Awards offer the perfect way to showcase innovative and successful business strategies from the past year. For the third year, the JCR staff is seeking stories that bring to life new and inventive ways that NCRA members change the way they do business, serve their communities, and help promote the professions of court reporting and captioning.

Nominations are currently being sought for several subcategories, such as best-in-class stories for: Marketing and customer service; Leadership, teambuilding, and mentoring; Use of technology; Community outreach; Service in a nonlegal setting; and Court Reporting & Captioning Week (2017) initiative. In addition, NCRA is looking for a group and an individual who show excellence in more than one category for an overall “Best of the Year” award.

Any current NCRA member in good standing, with the exception of students, may be nominated for these awards. Court reporters, captioners, videographers, scopists, teachers and school administrators, and court reporting managers are all eligible for nomination as well as groups, such as firms, courthouses, or court reporting programs. Self-nominations are accepted. More information about specific criteria for each of the categories is available on the JCR Awards Entry Form.

To enter, submit a written entry to the JCR between 300 and 1,000 words explaining the strategies implemented and why they were successful. Ancillary materials, such as photos, may also be submitted with the nomination. Nominations will be considered based on the best fact-based story. Please be prepared to offer documentation, verifiable sources, or other assistance as needed to be considered for these awards. The stories of the finalists will be published as featured articles in the March 2018 issue of the JCR.

Nominations are due by Oct. 31.

Read about the winners from 2017 and 2016.

Realtime writing and realtime scoping in Jamaica

By Linda Bland

It isn’t unusual for me to receive a call from a court reporter asking how to upgrade his or her writing to offer realtime writing as a service or how to transition to captioning or CART providing. However, I was very pleased when I received a call from Ms. Tessa Lewin of the U.S. Embassy, asking me if I would be interested in discussing how the Court Reporting at Home Realtime Writing Professional Development Program might train 44 official reporters for the Supreme Court of Jamaica. I immediately responded, “Yes! Absolutely! I would love to develop just this kind of project.” Having previously trained realtime writing court reporters in Zambia and Sierra Leone, Africa, my mind began immediately thinking how this might be accomplished.

Justice Bryan Sykes and his committee had determined that their reporters could benefit from upgrading their skills for realtime writing and speed, as well as other areas. Just the idea of the project was exciting. A great deal of thought and planning had already been developed by Justice Sykes and his committee, comprised of reporters, justices, IT department personnel, etc. By the time I was contacted, the committee had already had established a series of goals. When we met via video conferencing, I made a few more recommendations.

The Chief Justice of the Jamaican Supreme Court was so committed to the project, she allotted time during the workday for all reporters to be able to practice. How generous was that? Each morning, one group of reporters/students would be allowed to practice while other reporters covered court, and each afternoon they reversed roles. Being paid to train — who could refuse that offer?

A few months later, we entered into an agreement, and on Jan. 5, 2015, the project began. I had agreed to seven goals:

  1. Assess the reporters’ current speed writing level
  2. Assess the reporters’ realtime writing proficiency
  3. Train the reporters in Eclipse Audio Synchronization
  4. Make necessary steno dictionary conversions, build dictionaries, and make modifications
  5. Train two official supreme court reporters as trainers in all aspects of training, with emphasis on developing speed tests (writing the tests, counting in word and syllabic count, dictating the tests and proctoring speed tests)
  6. Implementing speedbuilding via the CRAH student platform
  7. Train two official supreme court reporters/trainers to update academics and customize them for Jamaican legal terminology, including study materials and tests.

I have learned during my many years of training reporters, captioners, and CART providers that all projects have challenges, and this one was no different. It would never have gotten off the ground without the dedication of Ms. Tanya Chung-Daley and Ms. Deline Cunningham, RPR, the court reporters designated as the two individuals who would be trained to be trainers of all future reporters for the court.

Our almost daily meetings, which later evolved into weekly meetings over the Internet, became an exciting, enjoyable part of my day. These ladies, fortunately, are so talented, it mde training them tremendously easier. In addition to handling their daily duties covering court, they had to go home to develop and dictate tests, or modify academics for the Jamaican judiciary, and countless other assignments I heaped upon them. They were working extended hours daily and weekends for months and months. And when I asked for materials back by Friday, I received them on Tuesday or Wednesday instead. My job was to stay ahead of them, to ensure that the next step in the training process was already prepared to prevent anyone from having to wait on any component of the project.

Our first two goals were to determine the reporters’ current speed and accuracy in translation. Imagine how difficult it is to schedule tests for this many reporters who have daily, ongoing court assignments including transcripts. Many of these reporters did not work in the Supreme Court in Kingston, Jamaica, but rather were in the circuit courts in cities all around the country.

Any court administrator knows the difficulty in simply keeping all courts covered. However, covering all the courts and scheduling the reporters for testing purposes was quite a feat. We had to test on three different dates, utilizing three different tests for speed at three different speed levels, as well as for realtime. The tests were graded utilizing NCRA grading guidelines, “What Is an Error?” as well as with a view toward the number of large and small drops the reporters were experiencing, how many of the errors were written correctly in steno but not contained in their dictionary, punctuation, and so on.

We then had a basis from which to work. We knew the speed levels we needed to address and the degree of the reporters’ translation accuracy. Knowing that the reporters and justices would benefit from audio synchronization, our first step was to introduce that feature. However, just as with all of us, some of us know our CAT software better than others, and it appeared some of the reporters required a review of some of the basic Eclipse features before we could introduce audiosync. Therefore, although basic training on the software was not a component of our agreement, I knew it was imperative, so I decided to employ someone who could refresh and walk the reporters through the basics.

Who could train my Jamaican reporters/students? I contacted an old acquaintance who put me in touch with Dineen Squillante, who is a certified Eclipse trainer. After one conversation with Dineen, I knew she was perfect for this project. Dineen developed a checklist for what we felt every reporter needed to know for basic realtime setup and editing, steno dictionary preparation, and so on. Each reporter was asked to fill out the checklist, designating which areas they felt needed additional training. Upon receipt of that information, Dineen developed multiple webinars that she presented to the trainers and that were recorded and provided for the trainers’ use in training the remaining reporters.

After the trainers determined that all the reporters were proficient in the basic features, we turned to dictionary building, conversion, and modifications, working on numbers, punctuation, etc. Dineen said, “Working on this project was one of the most enjoyable assignments of my entire career.”

Developing a literary, jury charge, or testimony test involves a great deal more than one can imagine unless you have served on a committee for the NCRA. Thankfully, we have counting software now that counts by word count as well as syllabic count. However, these software programs are not always 100 percent accurate and often require “tweaking.” Because of that, I felt it was important to teach the trainers how to compose a test, count the words in both word count and syllabic count, and dictate it. There is truly an art to dictating correctly and accurately. It can be the difference between being able to pass a test or fail one. It takes a great deal of practice for most instructors, but fortunately, once again, the trainers adapted to dictation quite easily.

Tanya and Deline, as well as the wonderful IT staffer, Duane Carr, teased me often about learning to “speak Jamaican.” When I would think the test “did not make sense,” I would be educated on certain phrases and how “it is spoken in Jamaican.” And without Duane’s IT expertise, we would never have completed this project.

We placed dictation developed by Tanya and Deline on my company’s student platform for the Jamaican reporters to practice, in addition to providing them access to hundreds of hours of our dictation if they chose to practice that as well. Tanya and Deline reviewed and edited our academics to determine what modifications were required for Jamaican law. We modified those and placed those on the platform as well, allowing their tests to be automatically and immediately graded, designating the errors they made and what the correct answer should have been.

And finally, I wanted the trainers to know how to edit or scope realtime. I called upon Dineen once again to train my trainers in realtime editing. If you haven’t tried realtime editing with your scopist, you have to do this. It saves a tremendous amount of time, and it is so easy. Do not be afraid to learn a new feature of your CAT software.

An awards ceremony was held for the reporters after they learned the realtime theory and writing concepts, and Deline and Tanya demonstrated realtime editing/scoping for all those present. While one wrote, the other edited the transcript simultaneously. If you aren’t familiar with realtime editing/scoping, your scopist may be in a different room, a different city, or even a different state, editing while you are writing the assignment.

In February 2016, my work ended. The materials for the Jamaican Project had been provided for realtime writing theory, speed building, and academics. The trainers and reporters had been trained in basic Eclipse, audiosynch, and realtime scoping. However, as we know, the road to building sufficient speed and accuracy and developing one’s steno dictionary are ongoing projects, and I knew Deline and Tanya to be quite capable of handling anything required by the Jamaican Supreme Court.

Deline stated, “The experience as trainers was a challenging and demanding one; however, with encouragement and assistance from Court Reporting and Captioning at Home, we were able to triumph over all the hurdles.” Tanya added, “Yes, and we are truly grateful for this experience.”

So, “Mon,” I didn’t get a trip to Jamaica, but I made a lot of wonderful Jamaican friends along the way, and we spread realtime writing to yet another part of the world. I am so grateful Court Reporting and Captioning at Home was chosen for this project and grateful also for all the assistance through the State Department, U.S. Embassy, the Jamaican Supreme Court, their IT Department, and of course, all 44 of the Jamaican Official Court Reporters.

My advice to you: Don’t stagnate! Realtime is attainable for anyone who is willing to put forth the effort. Don’t think that you can’t change your style of writing or that you are “too old.” You don’t have to change your entire theory at all. However, in all likelihood, you probably need to add a few realtime writing concepts to your theory. Remember, we all modify our theory somewhat, don’t we? We think of new briefs, or find another way to write our numbers, or a new way to write a “family” of words or contractions. We find new groups of phrases that work well for us.

If you want it, realtime is there for you to master – even from the comfort of your home. It requires taking one realtime concept at a time and mastering it to prevent you from causing hesitation in your writing. Writing realtime well isn’t accomplished in a one-day seminar, or even a week or a month. It can take anywhere from 90 days to a year or longer, depending upon how much work you need to employ to update your theory, how much time you make to practice, and how disciplined you are to completing your training. Every realtime writing concept you incorporate into your writing improves the translation, reduces the amount of time it takes to edit a transcript, and provides you more time to practice. It’s a win-win situation. However, you must take the first step to begin your journey.

Linda Bland, RMR, CPE, is the owner of Court Reporting and Captioning at Home, SSD Enterprises, LLC, Fla. She can be reached at LindaB@courtreportingathome.com.

 

 

JCR Awards nominations open through Oct. 31

Nominate yourself or a noteworthy court reporter, captioner, videographer, scopist, teacher, school administrator, or court reporting manager for recognition through the JCR Awards. Conceived as a way to recognize and highlight the exemplary professionalism, community service, and business practices of NCRA members, the JCR Awards is a way to tell compelling stories that bring to life innovative and successful business strategies from the past year. In addition to nominations for several subcategories, NCRA is looking for a firm and an individual who show excellence in more than one category for an overall “Best of the Year” award.

Any current NCRA member in good standing, with the exception of students, may be nominated for these awards. Court reporters, captioners, videographers, scopists, teachers and school administrators, and court reporting managers are all eligible for nomination. Self-nominations are accepted. Firms, courthouses, or court reporting programs may be nominated as a group as long as they meet the criteria for membership for one of the definitions in the JCR Awards Entry Form.

To nominate yourself or someone else, submit a written entry to the JCR between 300 and 1,000 words explaining the strategies you implemented and why they were successful. Ancillary materials, such as photos, may also be submitted with the nomination. Nominations will be considered by the JCR editorial team based on the best fact-based story. Please be prepared to offer documentation, verifiable sources, or other assistance as needed to be considered for these awards. The stories of the finalists will be published as featured articles in the March JCR.

Nominations are due by Oct. 31. Read more about the JCR Awards.

NCRA launched redesigned online NCRA Sourcebook

A newly redesigned online NCRA Sourcebook is now available through the National Court Reporters Association’s website. As the newly redesigned membership search site integrates directly with each record,  members can update their information online and see those changes in effect immediately. In addition, members can also add photos to their records.

STUDENT REPORTING: Scoping through school and beyond

By Gretchen House and Roanna L. Ossege

Scoping can accomplish many things for a budding reporter, but there are pitfalls to avoid, lessons to be learned, and trust to be earned. Scoping can be a great way to make money, stay in steno mode, and get on-the-job training. In addition, student scopists gain knowledge and ideas and begin to get an idea of the kind of reporter they may want to be. The issues scopists will likely face as a student are making the investment in CAT software, being careful to manage their time for school and practice while being available to their reporters, and getting the hang of the job so they can find and keep clients.

scoping1Our journey

We decided to start scoping to accommodate our mutual desire to stay close to the field. In addition, scoping gave us more control over our schedules than a traditional job would offer. We both feared that jobs outside of the court reporting world might mean less time focused on our ultimate goal.

Roanna bought her software by taking from a retirement fund, and Gretchen used a leasing option. Both avenues accomplished the goal of allowing us to scope professionally. Some reporters have access to a scoping or editing key that may allow students to scope for them without additional costs. In reality, the best opportunity to have access to a lot of clients is to purchase one of the more popular CAT software options.

scoping2Finding clients

There are several ways to find potential clients. Several websites, including Facebook, have job boards where scopists can meet reporters. Scopists need to be prepared with a well-written, correctly punctuated introduction or ad. This first impression matters to the reporters looking for scoping help. Scopists shouldn’t be afraid to mention that they are court reporting students. Student scopists present a promising option because of the resources they have access to through their school, including an education delivered by reporters. Also, scopists who have attained their scoping certification through their NCRA-certified court reporting program should let their potential clients know. Highlight anything and everything that demonstrates competency and promise. A good opening is to show the reporter that student scopists require less training than someone else.

Another way to find clients is to attend seminars and conventions to network with local reporters. Gretchen attended a CAT class given at an annual convention and was the only student in the class. During introductions, she took her chance to mention that she would like to scope and gave out her email address. She met a reporter who she has been scoping for ever since, and this reporter has become a cheerleader for her as well as she finishes up certification testing.

Roanna found one particular long-term client who was a perfect fit. The reporter was new but not too new. This reporter knew enough to guide a new scopist, and Roanna knew enough to be of value to her. In the end, it was the experience with that reporter that got Roanna her first opportunity as a new reporter. She joined her client’s firm about a year later.

From the writers’ experience, the in-your-face, unavoidable, and most important parts of scoping in order to build and maintain a client list are:

  1. Improve skills with every job
  2. Ask for and take criticism
  3. Apply the criticism
  4. Show progress so the reporter sees the value in training

scoping3The learning curve

Many reporters are so appreciative of scopists who are dedicated, careful, communicative, and loyal, and especially those who always meet their deadlines that they will work with new scopists on what they don’t know. We made up for our inexperience by showing a fierce dedication to impress in any way we could. Did we impress every client? No. Some reporters and scopists are not the right fit. That’s just the way it is. Did we make a ton of mistakes? Yes, we did. But we just kept plugging along.

A common thing heard among reporters is that finding a good scopist is like finding a needle in a haystack. Many reporters are weary of even trying anyone new because anyone can buy software and call themselves a scopist. Student scopists have to demonstrate that they have the special knowledge, skill, focus, and dedication to be an effective scopist. Don’t miss words, and insert basic punctuation. If student scopists lag on the other skills in putting together a transcript, most reporters will value someone who goes word by word with the audio. Reporters can train their scopists much more easily on format, etc. So if the best student scopists can offer in the beginning is incredible attention to detail, they are well on their way to being a value to many reporters.

One of the challenges new scopists face is that they will only be able to scope a few pages an hour at first. This is a good thing. Student scopists need to take their time and get it right. They will build up speed as they go and thus increase their earnings per hour.

Put together an organized system to accept work, complete work, and bill work. This means that scopists communicate that the job was received, it was downloaded into the software, the audio is clear and usable, and that they are ready to go. When Roanna was first starting out, she would stop every 20 pages or so and just text or email an update. It seemed to be an effective way to put reporters at ease until they got to know their new scopist. This kind of communication is very attractive to busy reporters. When the job is complete, reporters should be able to reach their scopists in case there is an issue with the file.

Don’t be upset when a reporter offers feedback on areas of improvement. This is a gift. Find out what reference guide that reporter uses, pull the guide out, and study it. Each reporter and firm has punctuation preferences that may contradict what students learned in school. Respect their preferences, be sure to take notes, and keep a preference sheet for each reporter to tailor their jobs to their preferences.

As student scopists improve and get their name out there, they may find reporters contacting them out of the blue because the reporter heard that the scopist is easy to work with, is dependable, and can produce a transcript. The reporter may not always be the right fit, and that is okay. Scopists need to be comfortable communicating that this is the case.

Before working with new reporters, scopists should clearly communicate in writing their rates, expectations, process, and billing schedule before they take any work. Their billing and invoicing must remain organized. There should be a system in place that clearly states any payment expectations, i.e. check, money order, pay in two weeks, etc. They can also, for example, list a late payment fee, but all that needs to be clear and upfront.

If a new reporter client sends a 300-page video depo of a forensic pathologist, it is okay for student scopists to say they would feel more comfortable with something smaller to start. Starting with 60 to 100 pages of what may be a simple motor-vehicle accident to a seasoned reporter may still challenge a newbie scopist. It takes practice and focus to be able to pick up on small punctuation and formatting issues that our brains sometimes unconsciously autocorrect. At the end of the day, it is okay for scopists to turn down a job that is over their head. This will protect their reputation as they gain experience. Taking small jobs from new reporter clients is the best way to build up a system of trust. By starting small and communicating zealously, scopists will grow and increase their business as they improve and expand their skills.

scoping4Facing your fears

Jumping into scoping and facing the fear of failure is tough to overcome, but student scopists have to conquer these fears if they want to be in this industry. Don’t fear the software. Learn to use it. Don’t fear punctuation. It’s important to master these skills, and it takes time and practice. There are resources everywhere to get help with software, punctuation, and a host of other issues student scopists will face.

Don’t fear asking questions. You don’t know what you don’t know, and every reporter was a student once. Reporters want their scopists to ask questions, want them to get better, and appreciate their scopists seeking clarification as issues arise, rather than turning in an incomplete product.

As is always true in life, facing fears with action is often the best way to develop confidence, and as a future professional reporter, confidence in the ability to produce a great transcript is empowering. On the other hand, if scopists offer to take expedites and rushes before they are ready, they will quickly tarnish their name in this industry, and they could potentially harm their reporters’ reputations. Student scopists should take what they can handle and work up to the bigger stuff.

scoping6What you gain

Student scopists will learn how to research the craziest things. They will learn how to punctuate the unreadable. They will learn things about their software. They will learn how to effectively communicate with their clients. They will learn to ask for help, more help, and some more help. All these lessons become huge assets when student scopists take their first jobs as professional reporters and put together their first transcripts.

Roanna recalls the major advantage of scoping jury trials for her clients. When she faced her first jury trial as a professional reporter, she knew how she wanted to set up the pages and she knew what was coming her way. Without scoping, this process would have been more intimidating and much more difficult in editing.

scoping5Community benefit

The reporting community benefits from offering opportunities to those students who are on the verge of graduating or who have graduated and need to tackle certification. This is the toughest time for a student, as they likely need to work but also want to stay close to the field to maintain motivation to practice and keep moving forward toward their goal. They need our support.

Court reporting students are well placed to train as scopists. They have the medical and legal terminology necessary for success and experience with their software, and many have a good network of working reporters for support. They understand formatting and proceedings and deadlines.

In the end, scoping while we were students was a net positive for us. We got stressed out at times. We had to learn to balance life, work, and our commitment to practice. We both felt that all of our clients were willing to work with our schedules a little bit to accommodate practice and school. But we were both successful in earning money in a court-reporting–related field while able to keep focused on school and certification.

Students interested in scoping should start communicating within the community to see what opportunities they can find. Scoping may require missing a night out or weekend plans with friends, but that is a small price to pay. The insight, experience, networking, and income potential are worth the sacrifice.

 

Gretchen House, Mesa, Ariz., is a graduate of the Gateway Community College Court Reporting program. Roanna L. Ossege, Falls Church, Va., is a freelance reporter in Northern Virginia. Both are on the Student Community of Interest for NCRA.

Turning the tide to support the reporters of the future

As your president, I receive hundreds of emails every week and many of them are positive and optimistic. But not long ago, I received an email that left me staring at my ceiling well into the night. The email highlighted the story of a recent court reporting graduate who works at a small firm with four or five other reporters. While the new reporter is grateful for the amount of work coming her way, she notes that it’s not without cost to her psyche – the scheduling administrator doesn’t really understand the profession, and the owner is dog-tired and is making a beeline toward retirement. At the holiday party, colleagues questioned the new reporter’s choice in entering the profession, indicating that digital recording is going to replace steno reporters. Not to be deterred, the new reporter is working to pass the last leg of her RPR and she’s starting to look for an officialship. She’s still in love with the profession, but she asks, “Where should I turn to look for employment with people who aren’t so negative about the profession?”

In many of the seminars that I have given around the country, I have said that we are our own worst enemies. Whether it be the nitpicking, the negativity, the apathy, we are the root of so many of our own problems. Plenty of Facebook comments, emails, and cocktail party conversations can still make me cringe, but I, like that new reporter, will not be deterred. I know we can be better. More supportive of each other. More positive in public. And while we cannot go back and change the thinking of those who are set in their ways, I have noticed in the last couple of years a positive swing in the overall morale of the profession. I think the naysayers are slowly being overshadowed by those who love our profession and see all the good it brings to the environments in which we work and to those to whom we provide service.

Did you know that NCRA has garnered more positive press and publicity for the profession in the last six months than it has in the previous six decades combined? Did you know that hundreds of leads are flowing into NCRA-certified court reporting programs, where previously a few dozen trickled in? Did you know that young teenagers are not only aware of court reporting as a profession, but are starting to think of it as cool?

As you probably know, NCRA commissioned an independent firm of analysts in 2013 to study the five-year outlook for our profession. The results that came back were somewhat scary, but also incredibly positive from a messaging standpoint. We have jobs. A lot of them. We’re not a dying profession. Stenographic court reporting isn’t going away. And we’re going to need new professionals – as many as 5,500 more than what current projections are saying will enter the marketplace – in five short years. Oh, wait, make that four.

NCRA is promoting the profession, targeting school counselors, parents, and most importantly, potential students. The messages are working. They are interested. And the perception is shifting.

Equally important to getting students to come into the career is supporting them once they begin their professional journey as working reporters. We cannot let the past rain on the future’s parade. As I said, there’s a lot to be positive about at NCRA and in the court reporting and captioning profession. I know we have had our fair share of challenges throughout the years, but now is not the time to allow our new reporters – the future of our profession – to be discouraged. Their future is bright, and it’s our job to promulgate that message among those who will carry the torch long after we’re gone. And more importantly, it’s our job to mold our future and teach them the longstanding history that we know so well.

As an established reporter, what are you doing to encourage a positive outlook among students and new reporters? Are they hopeful about the direction of the profession? Do they have a support network to carry them forward? We should hold our professionalism standards very high. It’s time to stop complaining about clients on public pages on Facebook. It’s time to put on a brave face for the students and new reporters and acknowledge the greatness there is from within. Perhaps the power of our positivity will, indeed, overshadow the negativity that still exists in the profession.

I can feel the tide turning. Can you?

[Excerpts of this column have been taken from President Nageotte’s address at the NCRA Firm Owners Executive Conference held in February.]

 

Finding the right scopist is key to live editing of realtime

Finding the right scopist can mean the difference between providing quality draft realtime transcripts within minutes rather than hours, according to a panel presentation held at NCRA’s 2015 TechCon event held April 10-12 in Denver, Colo. Participants included Lisa Knight, RMR, CRR; Christine Phipps, RPR; and Sue Terry, RPR, CRR.

To help ensure a high-quality product and a quick turnaround of draft transcripts, freelancers should consider having at least two scopists they work with on a regular basis, as well as a good proofreader, however finding the right people to fill those roles many times is not easy. As part of their presentation, guest panelists shared with attendees the following tips to help find the right scopist and proofreader for them.

Find people who understand that having mistakes pointed out to them is not pointing fingers but rather an effort to help increase the quality of the final product. A good scopist and proofreader will also, over time, begin to recognize what words the court reporter has a tendency to miss a lot and be able to make those corrections quickly.

Most court reporters are reluctant to share information about their own scopists and proofreaders if they are good, so getting a recommendation can sometimes be difficult. However, forums for various software provide a good resource for finding high-quality professionals, and often times participants on these forums are actual software trainers as well.

Questions that should be asked when interviewing a potential scopist or proofreader should include:

  • What software and version of it do they use, and are they current on its functions and do they have tech support?
  • What kind of computer do they use and what operating system?
  • Is there a viable Internet connection in the area where they live?
  • Ask them about their error rates, as well as their dictionary entries and how many they make a day.
  • Find out if they have used dropbox before, if they have it on their computer, and if they have used it in scoping or court reporting jobs before.
  • How long have they been working as a scopist or proofreader and have they worked producing daily transcripts?
  • Finally, ask for at least three to five references and check them all.

Once you find a good scopist, the panelists suggested setting guidelines up front in regards to what you expect from them. For example, tell them if you expect a 24-48 hour turnaround on assignments all the time, and make sure they understand that you expect to be in constant contact with them to keep them current about upcoming jobs.

Niche site ProofreadAnywhere.com launches new multimedia online course

The Digital Journal reported on Feb. 19 that ProofreadAnywhere.com has launched a new online course to help others learn how to provide proofreading services to court reporters. The company was started by blog writer Caitlin Pyle, who regularly proofreads for court reporters from her home.

Read more.

Student’s Corner: Gotta love that Latin!

By Lisa Selby-Brood

If you start to study Latin, you will learn the words – like any other language — and you’ll learn lots of legal terminology as well. Best of all, you won’t get so thrown by Latin terms. Here are a few goodies, plus some regular English words that I just have to throw in because I think they’re really funny!

Nunc pro tunc. It sounds pretty much just how it looks. I love this one! Kind of rolls right off your tongue. Fun to write, too! Anyway, the Latin is “Now, for then,” and basically it is a judgment or order by a court correcting usually a clerical rather than a judicial error. It applies retroactively to an earlier ruling.

Say for example there’s a divorce. For some unknown reason, the final divorce decree never got filed, so therefore, the divorce is technically not final. This could bring us some huge problems, for instance, if one of the parties decided to remarry.

A nunc pro tunc order would be issued by the court making the divorce final, retroactive to the earlier date.

Res ipsa loquitur. This one pretty much sounds the same as well, but don’t ask me for a brief on this one. I don’t hear it come up much, but I remember this from when I was in school. The Latin means “The thing speaks for itself.” The doctrine of res ipsa loquitur states that the elements of duty of care can sometimes be inferred due to the very nature of an accident, even without direct evidence. An example would be getting hit by a rock that flew off a passing dump truck.

Ipso facto. I like this one, too. Latin for “By the fact itself.” An example would be an alien, ipso facto, has no right to a U.S. passport.

Corpus delicti. All right, class, we all better know that “Corpus” means “body.”

Corpus delicti means “body of crime.” It doesn’t refer to an actual body, as one person I knew made the mistake of saying, “They can’t find him guilty of the murder, because there’s no corpus delicti.” (I loved this person dearly, so I didn’t have the heart to correct her. She was referring to the fact that the body was never found in a murder.)

It refers to the fact that it must be proven that a crime has occurred before a person can actually be convicted of committing same. In other words, corpus delicti would be the body of evidence, so to speak. For example, you can’t charge somebody with larceny if you can’t prove something was taken.

In the case of murder, I’m sure there’s plenty of people sitting on death row right now who got convicted of a murder saying to themselves, “How could they convict me if they didn’t find the body?” Answer: Good circumstantial evidence.

Okay. Enough Latin.

Here are some words that are just plain funny to me! They don’t sound (well, maybe one does) anything like what they look like, and they’re in my dictionary exactly the way they sound.

Segue. (Sounds like SEG-way) It means a smooth transition from one thing to another. This case or this doctrine or this line of questioning or whatever segues into my next point. Something along those lines.

Hyperbole. (Sounds like high-PURbowl-lee) This one has to be my favorite. Hyperbole is a figure of speech, kind of like a simile but not quite. Saying “this thing weighs a ton” when it doesn’t weigh anything near that, or saying “we knew each other about 100 years ago” are examples of hyperbole. This one, believe it or not, is in my dictionary as Hyper-bowl. I’m sorry, I can’t do it any other way.

Bailiwick. (Sounds like BALE-ewick.) My boss loves this one, because she uses it a lot! Originally it referred to an area of jurisdiction of a bailiff. Today it usually means a sphere of authority or expertise. The first time I heard it from her was when I had some question about something going on in the criminal arena and she said, (in an email, of course) “Not my bailiwick. Ask Sandi!”

Students, study language! The more familiar you are with it, the better you will be at your job.

Lisa Selby-Brood, RPR, is a freelance court reporter in Palm Harbor, Fla. She can be reached at lspiggy@tampabay.rr.com and through NCRA’s Virtual Mentors Program.

 

TechCon Today: The basics of realtime scoping

Christine Phipps, RPR, talks about scoping at TechCon

Christine Phipps, RPR, talks about scoping at TechCon

Christine Phipps, RPR, from West Palm Beach, Fla., a veteran when it comes to working with realtime scopists, shared some insights and tips with attendees at TechCon about successfully working with realtime scopists. Phipps provided the audience with an overview of how she works with two realtime scopists located in Alaska and California respectively, as well as a proofreader. Among her tips: the realtime provider and the scopist must have the same document settings such as margins, paragraphs, and tabs; compression settings need to be checked so there is enough time for audio to be pushed up to the Internet; access to good quality audio is critical to ensure scopists can deliver the highest quality product.

Watch next week’s JCR Weekly and upcoming issues of the JCR to read more about sessions at TechCon 2014.