Local court reporter earns national certification

Shoreline Area News posted a press a release on June 30 announcing that NCRA member Douglas Armstrong earned his RPR. The press release was issued by NCRA on Armstrong’s behalf.

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Winnebago County looks to recruit more court reporters to the court system

NCRA member Joan McQuinn, RPR, CMRS, an official court reporter from Rockford, Ill., talks about her career and the shortage of students entering the profession in an article posted June 12 by WREX Channel 13. McQuinn also serves as co-chair of NCRA’s Contests Committee.

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Steno on the go!

What’s the strangest place you’ve had to tap-tap-tap away on your little machine, knowing that people are relying on your speech-to-text output? A bus perhaps? No? Well, Michelle Coffey, RPR, CRI, CPE, has done just that, and she shared her story with the British Institute of Verbatim Reporters. Coffey owns Premier Captioning & Realtime Ltd in Wicklow, Ireland, and is a seasoned reporter. To know what it was like to caption on a moving bus, read her story below. Sounds like a whole heap of fun!


By Michelle Coffey

We all know that every day in the working life of a captioner is different and can be a challenge, and then there are days like Tuesday, November 26! It began like any other day, with a booking for a regular client at a conference they were holding to discuss accessible tourism in Ireland.

But then I was told we wouldn’t be needed till after lunch as the morning was being spent on an ‘accessible bus tour’ to some of the accessible sights of Dublin. Hold on a minute, though. If I’m there for access for the deaf/hoh tourists and I’m not needed, then how accessible is this tour going to be for them? So I asked how they’d feel if we tried to make the tour bus accessible. Without hesitation, we got a resounding yes! If you can do it, the organizers said, let’s go!

On the morning of the job, I arrived at their office with laptops, screens, projectors, extension cables, etc. I could see the perplexed expressions as they tried to work out how best to break it to me that I wouldn’t be able to plug in my extension lead on the bus or indeed my projector! But once I reassured them that I did really have some clue about what we were about to embark on and that the screens were for our final destination, everyone relaxed.

And I have to say, it was by far the most fun job I’ve done.

Three double-decker Dublin Buses pulled up outside the office, where everyone was given a name tag and allocated a bus. The idea was that as the buses traveled between destinations, the facilitator would lead discussion and debate onboard; and then in the afternoon all three busloads would feed back their information to the group at large. As our bus was now equipped with live speech to text, the occupants of the other buses could see what we were discussing or joking about! The tour very quickly descended into a school tour mentality (we were even given some snacks) with lots of good-natured joking, and one of our blind facilitators even scolded me for shielding my screen from him which meant neither he (nor Cookie his guide dog) could copy my answers to the quiz.

It soon became apparent that our driver was quite new to the concept of braking in a timely fashion and had probably never passed a pothole he didn’t enter! This being the case, I was finding it increasingly difficult to stay upright myself, much less my machine; with that in mind, the guys and gals on our bus decided to take bets on when the next bump in the road, traffic light, or such thing would cause me and/or my machine to slip! It really lightened the mood, everyone had a laugh, and it brought home to people in a very real and tangible way that accessibility for everyone is not just a soapbox topic. In fact, it became something that everyone on our bus played an active part in (even if some of them were “accidentally” bumping into me to get an untranslated word — and a laugh).

But it showed that access matters, and that it should matter to us all!

What I didn’t know before that morning was that not only were we doing a tour on the bus, but we also had two stops; one at a brand-new and very accessible hotel and one at a greyhound race track. Initially, it was suggested that I would stay on the bus and not transcribe the tours, but where’s the fun in that? And more importantly, where’s the accessibility in that? So, I picked up my steno machine, laid it against my shoulder like a carrying hod, and off I trooped to join the fun once more.

Once we got off the bus, the bets turned to how many different positions they could get me to write in; standing (we weren’t in the lobby of the hotel long enough to procure a chair); sitting (in the bar I managed to find a stool); balancing on a bed (with a busload of people crammed into even the most luxurious of hotel rooms, it tends to get a little cramped; never before had I cause to utter the sentence “Any chance a few of you guys could move over a little, I’m nearly falling off the bed!”); squatting (trackside at a greyhound racing park); machine stand on a bar table (at the betting counters in the racing park), and finally, my machine held by another tour member in the lift — it was a truly interactive tour.

And to finish the day off, we went back to the Guinness Storehouse for our panel discussion and debate about accessible tourism in Ireland (and free pints of Guinness, of course). All in all, a brilliant day. An important topic discussed, debated, delivered, and demonstrated in our different locations — the best job ever.

 

Casting call for stenographer

On June 6, Fox Channel 5 Good Day Atlanta posted a casting call for a stenographer for a film entitled Mule, being directed by Clint Eastwood.

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Stephen King’s ‘Mr. Mercedes’ seeks stenographer for finale episode

The final episode of Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes is being filmed at the Manning Courthouse in Manning, S.C., according to an article posted June 8 by the postandcourier.com, and the production company is seeking a stenographer with their machine as an extra.

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NCRA member Penny Wile profiled in business news

NCRA member Penny Wile, RMR, CRR, Norfolk, Va., owner of Penny Wile Court Reporting, was profiled in an article posted May 21 by Inside Business, The Hampton Roads Business Journal. The article was generated by a press release issued by NCRA about Wile being featured in the May issue of the JCR.

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IN MEMORIAM: Allen Edelist, FAPR, RPR (Ret.)

Allen Edelist on his ascension to the presidency of the California Court Reporters Association in 1993

Allen Edelist on his ascension to the presidency of the California Court Reporters Association in 1993.

The court reporting profession lost an icon last week: Allen Edelist, FAPR, RPR (Ret.), passed away on May 16, 2018, at the age of 67. Allen was a generous, loyal, and true colleague and friend who dedicated a great deal of his time to the advancement of the court reporting profession. He was an avid fan of the Los Angeles Angels and Los Angeles Kings, and he had season tickets for many years and hated to miss a game! And, of course, those who knew him were well aware of his “groupie side,” following the rock band Procol Harum all over the world to see them perform! Allen was also a long-term trustee of the Los Angeles School of Law and Paralegal Studies and a member and supporter of the Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Los Angeles.

Allen’s career in court reporting began in the early 1970s when he enrolled at Clark Court Reporting College in Santa Monica, Calif. He passed the California CSR exam in 1978 and opened his deposition agency, A. Edelist Deposition Services, soon after in 1979. His greatest accomplishment as an agency owner was his devotion to mentoring students and reporters, new and seasoned, throughout his 40 years in the field.

Allen never missed an opportunity to get involved in court reporting association work as evidenced by time served as a board member and multiple officer positions of both Los Angeles General Shorthand Reporters Association and California Court Reporters Association (CCRA), ultimately serving as president October 1993-1994. He was an active member of the National Court Reporters Association for over 40 years, attending most annual conventions as well as firm owners’ retreats. Needless to say, he was extremely generous monetarily and spent an inordinate amount of time helping to produce legislation, continuing education, and public relations programs through these organizations. Allen received many awards throughout his extensive career highlighted by CCRA’s Distinguished Service Award and becoming a Fellow of NCRA.

As a leader and visionary in the court reporting arena, Allen continually strived to advance the profession as evidenced in the following excerpt taken from his CCRA presidential speech on October 9, 1993:

By virtue of the technological presentation we make, we are a unique breed. We are on the cutting edge of information management. The presentation of the spoken word that can be transmitted immediately through a computer and projected onto a screen or printed in braille, integrating the ingredients of litigation support, telecommunications, scanning of documents into the records and CD-ROM text is the future and the future is now.

In the 1970s, we were not unlike Orville and Wilbur Wright. We started by building a base for a product we could offer. Through rapid advancements by the computer industry, as well as futuristic thinking by our CAT vendors, we have continued to grow, now as realtime reporters. We can further our advancement by committing to a program of continuing education that will enable us to converse fluently as computer-literate reporters.

RIP, Allen. You have been an inspiration to many both personally and professionally. Your close friends and colleagues will miss you and your impact on what you once coined “this incredible profession.”

Michele Oken, RPR, CMRS (Ret.)
Sherman Oaks, Calif.

NCRA member writes dream novel

By Becky Doby

“I’d like to sell Mary Kay full-time.” Pause. “I’ve always wanted to be a personal trainer.” Silence.

“Okay, who else?”

It was several years ago, during a break at the annual convention of the Wyoming Professional Court Reporters Association, when one of the members posed the question: What career would you like to pursue if you were no longer going to be a court reporter?

Finally, a quiet voice was heard. “I’d like to write a novel.”

Merissa Racine, RDR

Merissa Racine, RDR, a freelance court reporter from Cheyenne, Wyo., didn’t grow up dreaming of becoming a writer. She was born in the Bronx and grew up on Long Island in New York. As a teenager she moved to Miami, Fla., where she spent her teenage years, and it was there she discovered the world of court reporting. Knowing she wanted a career rather than just a job, she set about identifying what that career would be. Seeing an ad in the paper for court reporting school, she had her answer. She laughingly states that she can’t remember the name of the school, as it lost its accreditation shortly after she enrolled. Yet despite that glitch, she has attained the certification of RDR and has since devoted herself to court reporting, first in Florida and then in Wyoming. But while she didn’t always have the desire to become a writer, Racine does acknowledge that “in the back of my mind I’ve always had a story.”

As is true for those in many legal professions – and perhaps especially in the world of court reporting -­ there have been many times when the thought had crossed her mind: I ought to write a book. Unlike the rest of us, Racine followed through with that niggling idea. She set her mind upon it, dreamed of it, honed her skills, and did it.

In December 2017, Silent Gavel became available through Amazon and online at Barnes & Noble. Now, in addition to enjoying a successful and fulfilling career as a court reporter, Racine can add “published author” to her list of achievements.

As court reporters, we both laugh and grimace at portrayals of stenographers in literature and film. We wish the profession were more accurately depicted, wanting others to understand the contributions we make to the field of law. At last, one who knows the profession in and out, with nearly 39 years of experience “in the trenches,” has provided the true representation we long for. Woven into this murder mystery are such things as the basics of machine shorthand and the use of briefs, such as when the protagonist, Lauren Besoner, makes a list of suspects under the heading S-PS. Besoner also faces a quandary when instructed by her judge to delete from the transcript comments he made on the record. These things, and more, lend authenticity to the novel.

The ways that authors go about writing are many and varied. In her case, Racine would write a paragraph, put it away, and then bring it out again, trying to find an idea that would work. She didn’t write first page to last, having come up with an ending long before the rest of the novel was fleshed out. Once she became serious about writing her book, she attended a seminar put on by the local library. From there, she became a member of the Nite Writers of Cheyenne, a group of aspiring writers. She also attended conferences in order to learn more about the craft. It has been a years-long process, and one that is still ongoing, as Racine continues learning the facets of writing and publishing.

“I wanted to write something that other people would like to read.” With Silent Gavel, Racine has accomplished her goal. In doing so, she has given her readers insight into a profession few know anything about. She wanted to write a novel. Done. Well done!

If you would like to contact Merissa Racine, she can be reached at merissaracine@gmail.com, or visit her website at www.merissaracine.com.

Becky Doby, RPR, is a freelance writer from Torrington, Wyo.

 

NCRA member’s certification noted

The Sun-Sentinel reported on May 9 that NCRA member Mairelys Albo, a freelance court reporter from North Bay Village, Fla., recently earned the Registered Professional Reporter certification. The brief was generated by an NCRA press release issued on Albo’s behalf.

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South Suburban College alumna finds success in legal field

Patch.com posted an article on May 9 about NCRA member LaTanya Allen, RPR, an official court reporter from Madison, Miss., who was recently sworn in as president of the Mississippi Court Reporters Association.

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