NCRA attends CTC, keeps profession relevant

Set in a moderately busy vendor hall, two women in professional garb speak with a few men who are visiting the booth. One of the women is seated at a steno machine. On the table are flyers and propped up iPads.

NCRA President Christine J. Willette (seated) and NCRA Secretary-Treasurer Debra A. Dibble speak with attendees at the 2017 Court Technology Conference.

NCRA was proud to host a booth in the expo hall at the Court Technology Conference (CTC) held Sept. 12-14, in Salt Lake City, Utah. The National Center for State Courts holds the biennial conference, which is the world’s premier event showcasing the developments in court technology. The event draws more than 1,500 court professionals from around the nation.

Volunteers at the NCRA booth at this year’s CTC event included NCRA President Christine J. Willette, RDR, CRR, CRC; Secretary-Treasurer Debra A. Dibble, RDR, CRR, CRC; Director of Professional Development Programs Cynthia Bruce Andrews; and Government Relations Manager Matthew Barusch. Other volunteers included:

  • Rockie Dustin, RPR, a freelancer in Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Phoebe Moorhead, RPR, CRR, a freelancer in North Ogden, Utah
  • Laura Robinson, RPR, an official in Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Laurie Shingle, RPR, CMRS, a freelancer in Pleasant View, Utah
  • Pattie Walker, RPR, an official in Holladay, Utah

The NCRA representatives used the opportunity to demonstrate to attendees the professional advantage of using stenographic court reporters as well as display the latest technology in realtime reporting. They also had the opportunity to speak to judges, IT professionals, and other court professionals.

“We experienced great interactions with court IT attendees. The lack of certified stenographic reporters to cover courts was a common theme expressed by many visitors to our booth. They’re really feeling the shortage,” said Willette. “They all love realtime. Many of them who use realtime said they can’t live without it. One judge called her reporter right on the spot to make sure they knew about realtime to the cloud,” she added.

The CTC serves as the venue for unveiling the latest developments in court technology to the court-professionals community, giving NCRA a prime opportunity to promote the gold standard of court reporting.

“The potentially monumental contacts that can be made at CTC are innumerable and invaluable in view of the broad expanse of crucial decision-makers who attend,” said Dibble. “We met with judges, attorneys, IT personnel, court reporters, and vendors of litigation services and technologies to court systems — everyone is looking for ways to be more effective in their roles to more efficiently execute the judicial process,” she added.

Willette and Dibble both agree that having the opportunity to demonstrate the capabilities of stenographic court reporters to those charged with implementing court-technology services helps to open doors and inspire ideas to incorporate stenographic skills into the products they offer. Attending the CTC also helps to keep NCRA members relevant as technologies evolve.

“It is imperative that NCRA be a part of that solution-finding process and be visible to every facet of this field. We spent our time listening and learning about the interests and needs of attendees, then sharing with them how we can provide solutions to their needs and how our services create efficiencies to their processes,” Dibble said.

The next Court Technology Conference will be in September 2019 in New Orleans, La. For more information, visit ctc2017.org.

Right to a speedy trial eroding as budgets cut

On Oct. 14, the Tulsa World published the first of a three-part series about the underfunding of America’s judicial system. The article focused on how under-funded, and thus under-staffed, courts lead to lengthier cases and delayed justice.

Read more.

Advice for new attorneys embraces common pet peeves of court personnel

The Survival Guide for New Attorneys in California, a joint publication of Los Angeles Lawyer and the Los Angeles County Bar Association Barristers, offers advice for those new to the judicial process. Pointed out by an eagle-eyed court reporter, the section titled “Pet Peeves from the Bench” by the Hon. Victoria Gerrard Chaney covers many issues court reporters also note as problematic in taking a record, such as a lack of civility or brevity. Chaney’s section is on page 55.

Read more.

North Carolina’s highest ranking court officer calls for review of judicial branch

An editorial posted May 30 in The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C., threw support behind the state’s Chief Justice Mark Martin for announcing his plans for a new commission to review the judiciary branch. Martin, who holds the state’s highest judicial office, calls the state’s current system stymied by out-of-date technology, burdened by a growing caseload, and starved by cuts in funding. In March, Martin announced his plans for a commission in a rare address by the chief justice to a House-Senate session of the General Assembly.

Read more.

Proposed budget in Wisconsin could impact court reporters

An article posted by the Milwaukee, Wis., Journal Sentinel on Feb. 11 details how Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget would reshape how Wisconsin courts are funded. According to the article, Walker said that a failure to include a way to pay court reporters is an oversight expected to be fixed before the budget is finalized. Failure to address the issue could result in the state’s more than 300 court reporters to be laid off.

Read more.

New leaders may ease North Carolina court budget woes

WNCN in Raleigh, N.C., reported on Jan. 18 that hearings in North Carolina are often delayed because court reporters aren’t available. The article quotes a trial court administrator saying budgetary cuts that reduced what reporters earned for producing transcripts are just part of a “slow dismantling” of the state’s court system,  a trend that might be reversed under the direction of a new top judge and empathetic legislative leaders.

Read more.

Cameras in the courtroom?

Members of a House Judiciary subcommittee on Wednesday discussed allowing camera access to the federal courts, according to an article posted Dec. 4 by the National Law Journal. According to Rep. Steve King, allowing camera access to federal courts would be a “tremendous boon” to open up the “machinery of government” to public attention. King made the comments at a hearing on HR 917, the Sunshine in the Courtroom Act, which he introduced this week.
Read more.

Court of appeal expresses due process concern over lack of court reporter

On Nov. 5, the Metropolitan News-Enterprise in Los Angeles, Calif., reported that the lack of a court reporter at a civil motion hearing raises due process concerns, particularly where the trial judge relies on reasons stated in open court but does not explain those reasons in a written order. The concerns were raised by a Court of Appeal.

Read more.

Shortage of court reporters affects North Carolina courts

Trials in North Carolina are being canceled or postponed because of a shortage of court reporters caused by budget cuts, according to a Sept. 5 news item on WFAE, an NPR station in Charlotte, N.C. This summer, the state court’s budget was cut by more than $3.5 million. To cover the courts, the litigants may have to call in a private reporter to cover the proceedings.

Read more.

Malfunction in courtroom recording equipment leads to murder case mistrial

According to a recent article posted by the Lexington Herald-Leader on its website Kentucky.com, a malfunction in courtroom recording equipment prompted a judge last month to declare a mistrial in the case of murder defendant Patrick Deon Ragland. Fayette Circuit Judge Ernesto Scorsone declared the mistrial just before the start of the third day of the trial, telling jurors that the courtroom recording equipment had not preserved the opening statements by Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Lou Ann Red Corn or public defender Lucas Roberts, nor the testimony of the trial’s first four witnesses.

The recordings are crucial in the event that the case is appealed to a higher court, Scorsone explained to the jurors. If either the defense or prosecution argues that a mistake was made, the recordings are used by appellate judges to determine whether a reversible error was made. Without that recording, appellate judges would not be able to make a determination.

Read more.