NCRA member captions for Arizona Storytellers

An article posted March 20 by explains how NCRA member Karla Martin, RPR, from Phoenix, Ariz., captions for the Arizona Storytellers Project.

Read more.

Bailey & Associates Court Reporting deposition video suites are available throughout South Florida

In a press release issued on March 21, Bailey & Associates court reporting firm announced that it has deposition video suites located in Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Hollywood and other locations throughout South Florida.

Read more.

“It’s about grunting again”: An official stenographer dishes on transcribing tennis players

Deadspin posted an interview on March 20 with NCRA members Linda Christensen, RMR, CRR, CRC, from Phoenix, Ariz., about her work producing official transcripts for tennis tournaments.

Read more.

Esquire Deposition Solutions boosts database reporting results with Relational Junction

In a press release issued March 20, Esquire Deposition Solutions has enlisted the services of Sesame Software’s Relational Junction for its data storage needs.

Read more.

Bills in Hawaii advance to require showings of open captioned movies for deaf

Hawaii Public Radio reported on March 12 that state legislators are considering two bills that would require larger movie theaters to provide showings with open captioning and audio encoding for the deaf and blind. Currently, the deaf are given an eyewear device to use to access captions.

Read more.

Chimniak Court Reporting and Video in Chicago joins MacCormac mentoring team

In a press release issued March 20, Chimniak Court Reporting & Video, Inc., in Chicago announced that it has recently joined an elite group of court reporting agencies in the Chicago area by becoming a member of MacCormac College’s mentoring program.

Read more.

Stock up for spring!

Members can take advantage of NCRA’s 72-hour spring sale on March 20-22. The sale offers the opportunity to purchase a bundle (up to 0.8 CEU) of top-rated e-seminars for only $85.00Sale hours are from 12:01 a.m. ET on March 20 until 11:59 p.m. ET on March 22. Buyers have 30 days from the date of purchase to view the seminars. Topics range from technology and career growth to tales from the trenches and trial presentation, and more. Find out more.

Top-rated e-seminars available in this 72-hour sale include:

  • Realtime Streaming Made Easy (0.15 CEU) – Pam Szczecinski, a realtime trainer, breaks down everything you need to know to provide realtime for your clients. Learn what equipment you will need, as well as the software, accessories, specs, and licensing necessary to make realtime easy. Szczencinski reviews products, prices, and providers.
  • Computer Security & You: Part 1 (0.15 CEU)  and Computer Security & You: Part 2 (0.15 CEU) – This  two-part series, presented by Sergeant Al Sternberg, the go-to authority on fraud, computer crimes, and evidence for the Wake County Sheriff’s Office, offers what you need to know about protecting yourself and your files from computer hacking and associated crimes. Sternberg guides you through the steps that can protect you from revealing sensitive personal and financial information and offers the basics of avoiding cyber stalking, identity fraud, and more.
  • Fear Factor: Nightmare on Court Reporting Street! (0.1 CEU) – Chucky Cady, RMR, hosts this open mic session where court reporters are invited to share their worst cases ever. From the disastrous to the hilarious to the inappropriate, their stories will make you realize that you are not alone. Misery loves company, and what is better than learning from others’ mistakes?
  • Developing Resiliency:  6 Powerful Strategies to Thrive at Work (0.1 CEU) – The ability to maintain resiliency and thrive in the midst of adversity is an intentional choice. When court reporters consciously make that choice, they are better equipped to be transformed by work-related challenges. Speaker Kevin Nourse, PhD, introduces the Resiliency Framework, consisting of six strategies to help people thrive in the face of career challenges. Learn to create a career defined by growth, success, and satisfaction.
  • Trial Presentation 101 (0.15 CEU) – Tim Piganelli is a trial presentation expert with over 20,000 hours of experience in the courtroom. His polished seminar is accompanied by professional, detailed graphics that provide a broad overview of the elements of trial presentations. Piganelli discusses juries, case progression, timelines, evidence, graphics, audio, video, and more.

For more information or to purchase the bundle, visit NCRA.


TAKE-AWAYS: How Firm Owners Executive Conference led two companies to a merger success

Following one of the NCRA Firm Owners Executive Conferences, attendee Robin Smith decided to take steps on an idea she had earlier brushed aside. Encouraged by a comment, she decided to approach a second court reporting firm to see if the owners were interested in merging. The JCR asked Smith and business partner Gail McLucas, RPR, to take us through their process.

Smith, although not a court reporter herself, grew up in a court reporting family. She found the business side of court reporting fascinating, and with a degree in business management, became an integral part of her family’s business.

JCR | How long have you been going to the NCRA Firm Owners Executive Conference?

SMITH | I attended two Firm Owners conferences, one in Sarasota, Fla., and one in Dana Point, Calif. They were several years ago; and while I don’t remember anything specific, I do remember appreciating the opportunity to meet other firm owners and realizing that we all face similar challenges.

I attended the conference in Arizona last year, and Gail and I both attended this year’s conference in St. Pete Beach. I found the conference this year very worthwhile — lots of opportunities to network as well as practical and useful business knowledge. We came away with the realization of two things that we can do better and have begun to take action on them.

MCLUCAS | This year’s Firm Owners convention in St. Pete, Fla., was the first Firm Owners convention I’ve attended.

JCR | What was the impetus for the merger of your two firms?

SMITH | The economic surveys were what started everything. I’ve never been one for completing surveys, but I have completed every one of the economic surveys, maybe because of my experiences at the conferences. When you complete the survey, you receive the survey reports. And this quote from the 2011 report is what started us on this journey: “When asked about economic indicators and what he or she looks for to gauge whether business is about to pick up, he/she responded this way: ‘I am merging with another small company to create a larger company based on the Firm Owners results reported in February 2011.’”

MCLUCAS | It was spring of 2013 when Robin called me and asked me to have lunch with her. The purpose of the lunch was ultimately to discuss the possibility of merging our firms; and upon hearing it, I considered it a wonderful idea.

JCR | Can you give a little bit of history about your firm as well as the history of the firm you eventually merged with?

SMITH | Geiger Loria Reporting was started in 1950 by George Geiger (my stepfather). He was an official for Dauphin County in Harrisburg, Pa., and started a freelance firm as well. Virginia Loria (my mother) joined him in the early 1970s, and so we are a court reporting family. Both my sisters, Helena Bowes and Sherry Bryant, are court reporters. Except for me. I’ve always done the business side of things.

MCLUCAS | I graduated with an Associate’s Degree in Court Reporting in June of 1974. From then until the end of 1980, I worked as an official at York County Courthouse. I started working for Geiger Loria in January of 1981. My former business partner, Joyce Filius, and I both worked together at Geiger Loria Reporting Service from 1981 until 1983. We were both from the York area, which is about 40 miles south of Harrisburg, and at the time we saw a need for a court reporting service in the York area. So Filius & McLucas Reporting began in August of 1983.

JCR | Robin, how did you approach Gail with your idea?

SMITH | You know how you have an idea and you think it’s great at first and then you talk yourself out of it? That’s exactly what I did: I talked myself out of it. It wasn’t until I was working with a business consultant and mentioned that I had this idea once and dismissed it. Well, he didn’t. He encouraged me to set up a meeting with Filius and McLucas and, as scared as I was, I did.

MCLUCAS | I was kind of curious about the call for lunch from Robin; however, we would see each other every so often at PCRA luncheons or events. But there was never an ongoing meeting with each other outside of that. But when the idea of a merger was presented to me, I was absolutely thrilled about the whole idea. I knew my business partner, Joyce Filius, was looking to retire and I certainly wasn’t ready to make that move in my life. I, too, have always been a firm believer in there’s force in numbers. So the idea of bringing two firms of comparable size together seemed to be a wonderful idea to me.

JCR | What were some of the issues that you had to work out to make the merger happen?

SMITH | Everything! After a lot of discussion, we decided to start from scratch, create a whole new company with the four of us as owners (myself, Gail, Helena Bowes, RPR, and Sherry J. Bryant, RPR, CRR) and wind down operations of our current companies. Then things became easier to figure out. There are so many things to consider and so many things you didn’t think to consider. It was a very hectic time.

MCLUCAS | I think the initial decision that needed to be worked out was whether there was actually going to be a purchase of assets by one company or the other or a mere “merger” of the firms without the exchange of purchase money. When we discussed the assets that each company had accumulated over the years, we found that we had enough to put together two “households.” After all, a merger is almost like a marriage. We had enough to comfortably supply two office spaces (one in Harrisburg and one in York). Each partner put a small amount of capital into the firm to get it up and running and applied for a line of credit to initially cover payroll and some of our start-up costs. Of course, a name for the new venture is always a consideration. And although it’s a mouthful, we decided to keep the two names of the firms and just run them together because they were well-recognized in the area for over 30 years.

JCR | How long did it take to merge the two firms?

MCLUCAS | We started talking in the spring of 2013 and were hopefully going to have it culminate in September 2013. At first, we had a business consultant involved. But we were not getting answers very quickly from him, so we took it upon ourselves to make the merger happen on our own. That, of course, involved a little more time, and we actually began the merged company, Geiger Loria Filius McLucas Reporting, LLC, on January 1, 2014.

SMITH | From that point, I feel it took two years until everything started to gel. The first year is just a blur. We had to put out a lot of fires and just hang on for dear life. The second year, things started to even out, and we could begin to focus on the bigger picture. 2018 will be our fifth year together, and it’s gone really, really fast.

JCR | What are some of the benefits of merging?

MCLUCAS | I feel the benefits of merging were immense, although scary at first. We were bringing the reporters of the two firms together for the first time, who had been with each of us for 15 to 20 years. Like a marriage, we weren’t too sure how all of our “children” were going to get along. But the benefits have outweighed our fright, and overall the merger has given us a bigger and stronger firm than we both had separately. Also, because I’ve always been “just a reporter,” I really appreciate Robin’s business acumen and her contribution in that respect to the newly-formed company. I always enjoyed the client contact and reporting aspect of the business, but not so much the financial side and forethought that it takes to run a truly successful business.

SMITH | We are stronger together. Together we have more resources, and that helps us to handle the ups and downs of not only day-to-day things but the ups and downs that are inherent in any business and industry.

JCR | Were there any obstacles that you had to deal with after the merger was completed? Were those things that you knew about in advance and had been prepared for, or did they take you by surprise?

MCLUCAS | As with any new business, there are always obstacles that you are presented with and have to deal with on a daily basis. The biggest initial obstacle was we moved not only the Harrisburg office, but we moved the York office (and may I say three times) before we were finally settled in. We were lucky enough to keep the office manager that was with F&M for 22 plus years, and that was sincerely a stabilizing factor for both of us. The building we moved into in January of 2014 didn’t have a permanent space for us until the middle of February. So we moved in February to a space, only to find that within a year we quickly outgrew that space and needed to move to a larger suite in the same building that we have been in since.

The other big hurdle that I think every new business faces is finances. We had a substantial amount of start-up costs; and until all our clients settled back into working with us together, it was a little rough at first. But I don’t think any of this took us by surprise; it was just learning how best to deal with the circumstances we were dealt. And as they say, if it doesn’t kill you, it will only make you stronger – and stronger I feel we are today!

SMITH | I wholeheartedly agree. Because we chose to start from scratch, the financial side of things probably was our biggest obstacle. We were spending money before we even opened our doors; and that took longer to recover from than we had anticipated or planned for.

JCR | Was there something specific about the situation that made it seem like a good idea to merge? Are there conditions that you could describe for someone else so that they might recognize a similar situation?

SMITH | The way we operated our firms on a day-to-day basis was very similar, our values and commitment were closely aligned, and we were in different regional markets so we each brought a different client base to the new firm.

MCLUCAS | I think the main thing that made it seem like it was a really good idea was when we compared financial information. It was like holding two identical companies side by side. But as in running two households, running two businesses is always more expensive than one good, strong one together. For me, that is what really made the situation seem real and that it was a good decision to be made.

I think the partners also have to recognize whether they will be able to work together amicably and not have one be so overpowering as to not consider the other’s opinion. As partners we’ve been able to communicate openly about all things involving the business, and there are no secrets kept from anyone about anything. I think an open and informed relationship is the only kind to have.

JCR | Is there any advice that you would offer to someone who is interested in merging two firms?

SMITH | I think it’s important if you’re going to be essentially handing over your business to someone and they are handing theirs to you and you’re going to be working together, that you like, respect, and trust that person. I’m not sure that’s something that I consciously thought of before we started down this path, and I realize now how important that was and still is.

MCLUCAS | I would say the most important factor is getting to know your potential partner as well as possible. Robin and I set regularly scheduled meetings with each other over the course of nine months before we finally made the merger happen. I hate to keep likening this merger to a marriage; but if you don’t have common goals and ideas as the person you’re going into business with, it could turn out to be a disastrous idea and will only cause heartache and failure. However, 2018 will be our fifth year in this merged company together and I couldn’t be happier with how everything has turned out for the two firms. I’m almost positive [that we] would not have been as successful if we had stayed two separate firms for this period of time.

Schools and students across the country celebrate Court Reporting & Captioning Week

Atlantic Technical College

Schools and students from across the country participated in NCRA’s student speed contest last month. The contest, which was part of NCRA’s Court Reporting & Captioning Week celebration, garnered widespread involvement, with 182 students competing from all over the country. All students, from all court reporting schools, at any speed level, were invited to participate. All told, 17 court reporting programs had students compete in the contest. “My speedbuilding class quite enjoyed writing the student speed contest,” said Barbara Ladderud, a teacher at Green River College in Auburn, Wash. “Thank you for putting this together as a fun way to promote Court Reporting and Captioning Week.”

Cuyahoga Community College

For this speed test, students had the choice of taking a Literary or a Q&A test consisting of five minutes of dictation. Test takers took the test at a speed level they were working on or had just passed and must have achieved 96 percent or higher accuracy to be eligible to win a prize. Because the contest was open to students at all levels, schools were able to have many or all of their students involved. ”Thank you very much for this opportunity,” said Joanne McKenzie, a teacher at Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Edmonton, Alberta. “We made it a requirement for all students to participate.” The tests, which were written by Debbie Kriegshauser, FAPR, RMR, CRR, CLVS, CRC, a member of NCRA’s Student/Teacher Committee, were intended to push the students. Kay Reindl, CRI, an instructor for Humphreys University in Stockton, Calif., reported that, although “these were pretty challenging tests….most attempted the tests at their targeted speed.”

Of the 182 students who competed in the contest, 42 passed the test. “My students didn’t get 96 percent on either test,” reported LaTherese Cooke, a teacher at South Suburban College in Oak Forest, Ill., “but they gave it their best.” Three of those who past were chosen at random to receive first, second, and third place prizes. First prize, or the gold medal, was awarded to Kelsie Alford of Green River College. Second prize, the silver medal, went to Julie Drew of Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, and third prize, bronze, was awarded to Samantha Marshak of Realtime Center for Learning, Inc. in Garden City, N.Y.

Des Moines Area Community College

Teachers and students alike were enthusiastic about the experience. “What fun we had! Thank you for the great idea and enthusiasm it generated during Court Reporting and Captioning Week,” said Joan Rikansrud, a teacher at Green River College. “Thank you again for including us in your contest and for all that you do!” echoed Carrie Ravenscroft, Cypress College in Cypress, Calif.

NCRA would like to showcase the hard work that students and schools are doing to promote the court reporting and captioning professions. Below are the names of all the students who participated in this year’s contest. Students marked with an asterisk passed the test with 96 percent accuracy or higher.

Arlington Career Institute
Grand Prairie, Texas
Allie Handlon
Deborah Quarles
Emelia Mullen
Jazzmen Garcia
Jennifer Ferenz
Rosalind Dennis
Sunshine Nance

Atlantic Technical College
Coconut Creek, Fla.
Alison Dituro
Ashley McCormick*
Carolina Rivas
Courtney Carpentier
Jenna Xarhoulakos
Lindsey Polin*
Samantha Kutner
Shawn Condon

Brown College of Court Reporting
Atlanta, Ga.
Amanda Bilbrey*
Amanda Bilbrey*
Andrew Shin
Brianna Shelton*
Connor Tatham
Crystal Foster*
Josie Thompson
Nicole Willoughby*
Nicole Willoughby*
Shannon Miles *


College of Court Reporting
Valparaiso, Ind.
Angela Viray
Ashly Richter
Brian Nelson
Desssalyn Kimbrough
Jennifer Hall
Kate Hargis
Kolby Garrison
Lori Ingram
Macy Thompson*
Megan Bowman  
Shaylene Mofle*


Cuyahoga Community College
Parma, Ohio
Devon Sneve
Kristina Carmody 
Teresa Nero
Vanessa Feistel


Cypress College
Cypress, Calif.
Eun Young (Joyce) Kim


Des Moines Area Community College
Newton, Iowa
Liz Ostrem*
Lonnie Appleby*
Sarah Muff*


Downey Adult School
Downey, Calif.
Jennie Ramos
Jenny Yi


Green River College
Auburn, Wash.
Abby Markson
Alexandria Fleming*
Doug Armstrong
Evelyn Jaimez
Heather Game*
Justin Choi*
Kari Derr
Kelsie Alford*
Lindsey Gruntorad
Michelle Overby
Sara Baxter*
Sarah Webb*
Sierra Zanghi*
Spencer Holesinsky*
Svetlana Golub


Hardeman School of Court Reporting
& Captioning (online)
Amy Plaxton*
Angela Cakridas
Brooke Taylor*
Casey Veinotte
Chelsea Morris*
Kaitlin McGowan*
Nick Mulvoy *


Humphreys University
Stockton, Calif.
Araceli Nava
Brittny Boya
Emma Pesusic
Kate Mendoza
Leslie Orr
Ngia Her
Sarah Glover


Lakeshore Technical College
Cleveland, Wis.
Abigail Fowler
Calisa Barta
Catherine Ray
Chad Hirsch
Megan Baeten*
Meredith Seymour
Michelle Miller
Nicole Whelihan
Stacie Pomrening


Macomb Community College
Clinton Township, Mich.
Alexa Lupenec
Cheryl Demanski*
Robert Ludwig
Tonia Miller


Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Abby Robinson
Amanda Hebb
Ariana McCalla*
Ashley De Marco
Bradley Morrison*
Brent Hannam*
Carly Fenske
Christine Rees
Dakota Chartrand
Dayna Canning
Diego Jiles
Dina Vasylevsky
Dyana Pewarchuk
Eileen Johnson
Ester Horvath
Jada Babiuk
Jalene Hutseal
Jameca Nguyen
Jayne Yuill
Jillian Pumphrey
Julie Drew*
Kayla Hotte
Kelcy Sherbank*
Kim Nguyen
Kristina Zeller
Laura Collis
Laura Driscoll
Linsey Eby
Lora Zabiran*
Martina MacFarlane*
McKaya Baril*
Meagan Gibson
Megan Galloway
Melinda Heinrichs
Michelle Gulka
Michelle Klatt*
Michelle Stevens
Nancy Phong
Netannys Turner-Wiens
Nicole Leddy
Presley Thomson
Sarah Pfau
Shauna Lagore
Stephanie Jabbour*
Stephanie Marocco
Yazda Khaled


Plaza College
Forest Hills, N.Y.
Brittany O’Brien
Christina Valentin
Connie Hwang
Dominique Burke
Elisabeth Dempsey
Elizabeth Keating
Ferrina Johnson
Floriana Krifca
Gabrella Tutino
Hazel Elardo Asca
Jerrica Nieves
Justin Centeno
Justine Torres
Kayla Jacobs
Kimberlee Clifford
Lakesha Dubose
Letitia Caceres
Maia Morgan
Melissa Colon
Paradise Rosario
Pashen Hutton
Patricia Alexander
Radhika Rampersand
Ramona Perez
Raven McCants
Rebecca Pierre-Louis
Ruby Mitchell*
Sophian deFrance
Tambra Whitfield
Violeta Marashaj
Yvonne Panigel


Realtime Center for Learning, Inc.
Garden City, N.Y.
Antonia May*
Debbie Babino
Gabrielle Carletti
Joe Altieri
Lisa Previti
Samantha Marshak*


South Suburban College
Oak Forest, Ill.
Amanda Castaldo
Candace Bradley
Cascidy Bandyk
Casey Toomey
Elizabeth Crossin
Hannah Flynn
Jennifer Blum
Kelsey Mikos
Lilly Martlink
Marla Peteet
Valencia Reed


Cascio retires after more than four decades of court reporting

The Daily American posted an article on March 5 about the career of NCRA member Donna S. Cascio, FAPR, RDR, CMRS, from Somerset, Pa., who recently retired after four decades working as an official court reporter.

The following article is reprinted with permission of The Daily American.

After more than four decades as a court reporter, Somerset resident Donna Cascio maintains high regard for the position.

She retired Friday after a distinguished career full of accolades.

“It is unheard of today for someone to remain in the same job for four decades,” she said with a smile and a straight-forward look as she sat in a jury room surrounded by party favors and congratulations signs that were put there by her colleagues.

She ran her hand over the curved bangs of her layered bob as she sat writing out a list for her final day. Cascio was wearing her professional uniform, her petite figure outlined by a dark skirt and jacket and muted colored blouse.

During the interview, several of her colleagues popped in to say a few words.

“I feel very honored and appreciated the fuss that has been made over me,” she said. “I did not ask for it. I did not expect it, but I do appreciate it.”

Court reporting has suited her well.

“It fits my personality as a professional. The profession of court reporting demands that,” she said.

She ticked off some of the traits needed that she sees in herself.

She has a great sense of right and wrong and ethical conduct, she said.

“That is what being a court reporter in the courtroom is all about,” she added.

“I’m an impartial person in the courtroom, an extension of the court. It is my job to maintain an accurate record of what happens in the courtroom to protect people’s rights, because the court record made by a court reporter is the record that goes to appeal in higher court and proves whether people were given their rights.”

Working at the Somerset County Courthouse has enabled her “to see the picture from beginning to end.”

People who are trained in court reporting have many avenues today, from close-captioning for television, owning a freelance court reporting business, or internet work where they can be called to record important business matters.

One of Cascio’s friends works for the International Monetary Fund in Washington, D.C. Another friend also retired Friday from his job as an official reporter in the (U.S.) House of Representatives.

“So the skill set possessed by court reporters today can take you many places,” she said.

She provided a quote about the profession: “Court reporting is a profession that puts the world at your fingertips,” she said with a grin.

Then Cascio highlighted one avenue for court reporters she supports wholeheartedly, Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART), also known as live-event captioning.

“A trained reporter will go with a computer into a classroom for the hearing-impaired student and provide the verbatim lecture of the professor in college and enable hearing-impaired people to expand their knowledge, get a great education and have a degree,” she said.

She believes in education.

“I came from a family, my mother had an eighth-grade education only, and I was the first one of my family of five girls to pursue higher education and I chose court reporting,” she said.

She took enough courses at Conemaugh Township Area High School to finish college in one year instead of the required two years.

While she was in school in Pittsburgh, her father saw an ad for a court reporter in Somerset County and called her. Then-President Judge Charles Coffroth interviewed her for the job. It was a Saturday, she remembered.

She was 19 when she started on Feb. 5, 1973, as a part of the justice system in Somerset County.

She said she has never looked back without a gracious smile.

There have been highs and lows over the 45 years, she admitted.

A low time was in the mid-1980s when a local official, who was part of the justice system, misused his authoritative powers and hurt people under his protection. He was later sentenced, she said.

A high time was witnessing how county residents helped each other during the terrorist attacks on 9/11.

She said she enjoyed working with people at the courthouse and helping others.

“That is what we do every day,” Cascio said. “And we work together to do that. The help I’ve been provided by all the offices has been outstanding.”

Her career has opened the door to meet other people in her profession. Being on the board of directors for both state and national associations allowed her to make friendships that she has maintained.

Cascio was a past president of the Pennsylvania Court Reporters Association. She was a member of the National Court Reporters Association, and in 2014, she earned the National Court Reporters Association registered diplomate reporter certification, the highest credential available to stenographic court reporters. In the same year, Cascio was named as one of seven fellows countrywide in the Academy of Professional Reporters, a professional distinction conferred upon an individual with outstanding qualifications and experience in the field of shorthand reporting. They are nominated for membership by their peers.

On her final day she was set to “entertain her colleagues” who wanted to be part of her farewell.

Now she plans to become more engrossed in her watercolor art, do a little gardening, enjoy cooking and learn to balance her life with everything she wants to do as a busy retiree. She said she is thrilled that she and her husband, John Cascio, a retired judge, can attend their children’s big moments in their careers and personal lives. Their daughter lives and works in New York City, their son is in Washington, D.C.

Life is about a good balance, she said.