Court reporters Down Under

By Merilyn Sanchez

In September, 15 reporters and guests traveled to Australia and New Zealand, with many of us crossing the International Date Line for the first time. While in the two countries, we experienced a combination of professional and cultural visits.

Of course both countries speak English, so we communicated easily. It was very interesting to explore the commonalities and differences in the judicial systems of the United States, Australia, and New Zealand.

Jana Moa was our hostess for the visit in Sydney. In the 1980s, she had a “study leave” equaling two mornings a week to train and study. She studied steno theory for one year and then built up her speed. She started off as a court officer (like a judicial advocate-type job). After 12 months of training, she went to court half days and found it “hard to be fast.” Jana passed the government test, which was 180 wpm for Q&A. At that time, the court had pen writers who were employed by the government.

Kaylene Scotson-Tairua, RPR, CRR, CCP, was another reporter we met in Sydney. (Scotson-Tairua also passed the test for Federal Certified Realtime Reporter from the United States Court Reporters Association.) She began her court reporting career in New Zealand on a standard typewriter; she said she had 250 “briefs” and would type as fast as possible. She printed the transcript a page at a time in the courtroom. She would use pen shorthand for sentencing.

After Scotson-Tairua spent two years in the New Zealand system, that country piloted the “American System”, namely, steno machines. Tutors who knew steno taught two to four reporters to switch to the steno system. Prospective court reporters had to take a competency test before being accepted for the program. They spent three months in theory and then trained on manual steno machines. By 18 months, candidates had to pass a test at 180 wpm. Scotson-Tairua, who was one of those initial trainees, then went to do court work.

The new steno system was much quieter. Some litigants wondered if the record was being taken down because they didn’t hear them typing. The courts brought in electronic steno machines. Each reporter had four sessions per day. Two reporters would alternate shifts (i.e., 1 & 3, 2 & 4 p.m.). In New Zealand, scopists would check their work.

In Sydney, the reporter training lately has updated to Windows 7 and Word 2010. They use CaseviewNet wirelessly with the attorneys providing their own iPads. The reporters use audio sync plugged into their laptop.

Scotson-Tairua moved to the United States where she did closed captioning and worked in court. She moved to Australia in 2012 and has been working in the courts in Sydney since then.

In Australia, they have what they call “runners” in court. These are steno reporters with 30-minute shifts. They have 30 minutes to write and 30 minutes to transcribe. The scopists are also court reporters. Realtime teams work two weeks on and two weeks off. The Australian courts have a lot of daily copy cases, so the reporters merge their files, usually at noon and the end of the day, but also whenever they can. The Australian reporters use Case Catalyst and export it to Word for transmittal to the clients. Audio recording is used as a backup. Court starts at 10 a.m. and adjourns at 4 p.m. Daily production of the transcript must be completed by 6 p.m.

In New Zealand, Sheryl Ham and Paula O’Flynn graciously met with us at the National Transcription Service. The NTS was created in 2007 to increase the Ministry of Justice’s capacity to provide more transcription for more courts across all jurisdictions.  It marked the start of a gradual transition from a local to a national way of delivering transcription services. It took five years to establish the service. The National Transcription Service employs 125 “court reporters” nationally. Although NTS calls them court reporters, they are what most of us would consider transcriptionists. These people are responsible for transcribing many different types of court proceedings. NTS reporters must type in excess of 80 wpm and have a high level of communication skills. There are 56 regional courts in New Zealand.

To be a transcriptionist for NTS, the person must type 70 wpm, have good communication skills, possess great attention to detail, navigate software, remain composed, and demonstrate flexibility under pressure. The typists participate in an intense six-week training program and then obtain a restricted license. NTS gives three categories of licenses: advanced (95-100 percent accuracy), full (90-95 percent), and restricted (below 90 percent). The transcriptionists holding the restricted licenses must have all their work peer-checked before it is considered complete and sent offsite. There is a senior quality advisor and four quality evaluators who assess and mark both contemporaneous and non-contemporaneous work.

For the Record is used for recording the proceedings. A court taker in the courtroom logs notes for the audio recording and is the eyes and ears in the courtroom. The court takers use a transcription service manager to transcribe the audio. Then, two transcribers working as a tag team provide a transcript with a 30-minute delivery. The transcribers are listening to what is happening in the courtroom and typing the transcript.

Contemporaneous transcription is delivery within 30 minutes of the conclusion of court proceedings. Noncontemporaneous delivery can be anywhere from eight hours to five days. The audio files are saved to a main server, and they can be accessed in multiple locations without restricting bandwidth to other users.

In both countries the court reporters are salaried employees. There is no transcript income for the employees.

In Australia, the format is 51 lines per page, single spacing (double spacing between speakers). All text is blocked left. The Australian definition of verbatim allows the court reporters to edit out pleasantries. Parties are listed by their last name only. There are no cover or certificate pages on the transcripts. The judge is designated as His Honor or Her Honor. All participants bow to the judge when entering and exiting the courtroom. Robes and wigs are required for councilors. The defendant rises for jurors.

Jury voir dire is very different in Australia and New Zealand. In both countries, the prospective jurors give their name, address, and occupation only. Each side gets three peremptory strikes. They have 12 jurors for a trial. There must be a minimum of 11 jurors to reach a verdict and all verdicts must be unanimous.

In Australia, steno notes are kept for five years and can be audited. Once a year, the steno notes are compared to the audio. This quality assurance monitors the reliance on audio. The steno notes can be subpoenaed. Reporters do stop proceedings if necessary. The first six months’ work is audited, which provides a good learning opportunity.

The NTS in New Zealand has a 251-page style guide, which includes template examples for formatting. They use the courts, their computer system, exhibits, and Google as research tools to prepare the transcripts. NTS archives the audio files. They only work in drafts. The transcript is not final until the judge signs off on it.

According to our guide, NTS was responsible for transcribing 40,316.5 hours of court proceedings from June 2013 to June 2014. To transcribe 10 minutes of taped proceedings took 23 minutes. A good average is 10 minutes of tape equals 30 minutes of transcription time.

All transcription takes place in the offices of NTS. Security keeps this from being a home-based business. Three to four transcriptionists are needed for contemporaneous transcripts in addition to team leaders, a region manager, and office secretary. Contemporaneous transcripts are verbatim. Noncontemporaneous transcripts are slightly abridged. The salary range for a transcriber is $45,000 to $59,000. They work from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and receive vacation and sick leave.

Just as in the United States, the numbers of reporters are dwindling in both countries. In Australia in 1966, there were 75 men and 25 women working in the courts as reporters, and one was a steno reporter. In 1988, reporting services were merging with sound recording. In the early 80s, when CAT was introduced, pen writers were retrained on machines with the last class conducted in 1997. During the transition period, 10 pen writers passed the tests. The training consisted of approximately one year of theory and one year of speedbuilding. Reporters could test out early.

In the New Zealand court system, there are only four steno reporters left.

In 2008, the Australian court system started contracting reporters, and it no longer recruits or provides in-house training of reporters. The Australian School of Court Reporting has now closed, and the only way for someone to learn to be a steno reporter is online training. Today there are 70 court reporters, and only five are men.

Merilyn Sanchez, RMR, CRR, is a reporter in Phoenix, Ariz. She can be reached at merilyn@msanchez.net.

 

On the horizon: eDiscovery

Predicting the future is notoriously difficult, but several people look into the future to see how eDiscovery and paperless transcripts will change the legal field.

Virtually every new leap forward in technology seems to provide opportunities for court reporting firms to diversify and enhance both the services they provide clients and their own income streams.

The rise of videotape and, later, digital video led to legal videography, the introduction of email and electronic documents begat eTranscripts and online repositories, and the advent of broadband triggered moves into conference hosting, remote depositions, and streaming services.

But the latest major tech development  —  the exponential growth of data in business over the past decade as well as the introduction of new tools to search and analyze all that content — is spurring a an interesting new debate within  the court reporters community and the legal industry as a whole.

Is eDiscovery, which is the use of software to search through data for evidence that can be introduced in legal proceedings, yet another new field for reporting firms looking to boost revenue?

Or is something controversial that court reporting agencies would be wise to stay away from, at least for the time being?

WHAT IS eDISCOVERY

According to the technology market research firm, the Radicati Group, based in Palo Alto, Calif., eDiscovery is defined as a set of processes for the identification, preservation, collection, processing, review, analysis, and production of Electronic Stored Information (ESI) for civil or criminal litigation procedures and/or to satisfy government investigations.

That ESI can include email, documents, images, databases, transcripts, audio files, websites, computer applications, and more that is stored in databases, websites, file stores, the cloud and  individual devices such as computers, laptops and smartphones.

The Radicati Group predicts the market for eDiscovery software will rise 24 percent annually to nearly $4 billion in the U.S. by 2018. And that’s just the software tools alone — there are billions and billions more expected to be spent by law firms and their clients on eDiscovery consultants and services.

Those kinds of multi-billion dollar projections have triggered a bit of a gold-rush mentality in the legal tech and legal support industries when it comes to eDiscovery.

Mason Farmani, managing partner and Chief Operating Officer of Los Angeles-headquartered Barkley Court Reporters, regularly attends legal tech conferences across the country. He says that while Barkley is often the only court reporting firm in attendance, every other company there seems to be showcasing some form of eDiscovery service.

Though it may look like a potentially solid new revenue stream for reporting firms, Farmani cautions that starting up an eDiscovery business from scratch would be a daunting challenge.

“It’s not an easy business to understand, and there’s lot of competition already in the space,” Farmani says. “You also need to realize eDiscovery is a very subjective kind of service and one that you may not have a lot of control over as a court reporting firm owner — if something goes south, then your whole company reputation could be at stake.”

eDiscovery will not be an easy addition for most court reporting businesses, agrees based attorney Shawn Kennedy, the CEO of eDepoze, of Kansas City.

“There are eDiscovery vendors already geared to large practices and ones that primarily deal with smaller law firms, so it’s a very well-established, mature industry,” says Kennedy, who founded eDepoze in 2013 to provide a software platform that allows attorneys to use e-documents during parts of the litigation process that traditionally have been paper-intensive, including the introduction of exhibits during the deposition process. “It’s unlikely that a court reporting firm that’s decided to become a new vendor will be given a law firm’s eDiscovery business over someone who’s been engaged in that field for years and is much more established.”

In addition to being a crowded market, Kennedy and others note that eDiscovery requires a significant investment in software and training — and that it’s an industry that’s changing rapidly thanks to steadily improving technology, as well as a flurry of new judicial rulings on what ESI can and can’t be searched as part of the discovery process.

Those barriers haven’t prevented a few larger companies from deciding to house both court reporting and eDiscovery divisions under the same roof as part of a strategy to provide law firms with a one-stop shop for outsourced legal support services.

Merrill Corporation, for instance, announced in late March 2015 that it was selling its Legal Solutions business to DTI. Businesses included in the sale were Deposition and Court Reporting Services, Document Service Centers, eDiscovery, and Managed Review/Document Processing.

ETHICAL CHALLENGES

But others in the court reporting community suggest combining two such disparate business can presents ethical as well as practical challenges.

“Court reporters are impartial — we’re not for the plaintiff, we’re not for the defendant, we don’t care who wins, and that’s what our certification says,” explains Maia Colucci, CMRS, president of Alliance Court Reporting, based in Rochester, N.Y. “With eDiscovery it could be construed that if Alliance Court Reporting is helping the plaintiff with any part of discovery, including researching the defendant laptops for information, then I’m casting my lot with that side.”

Court reporters can certainly educate their law firm clients about the latest legal technology, including what’s happening in eDiscovery, says Keith Lemons, RPR, CRR, who also holds NCRA’s Realtime Systems Administrator certificate, and is a reporter with Cleeton Davis Court Reporters in Nashville, Tenn.

Those kind of tech updates briefings could prove immensely valuable now that bar associations in states such as California have issued guidance suggesting attorneys have an obligation to be aware of all the issues regarding eDiscovery and how it pertains to their practice.

But Lemons also agrees with Colucci that working to help one side with eDiscovery may cross a line, noting, “It is still against our code of ethics to participate with them in deposition digesting and/or court tech work as a so-called team member.”

One way around any potential ethical issues would be for firms to offer eDiscovery services to both sides, suggests Todd Olivas, head of Todd Olivas & Associates based in Temecula, Calif. “I can see no issues with impartiality as long as the services are presented to my client as well as opposing counsel,” says Olivas.

The fact that so many of today’s complex legal cases, especially on the civil side, have multiple defendants and multiple plaintiffs, all represented by different law firms, might lend itself of having one firm do all the eDiscovery work, adds Kennedy. “Vendors are already offering electronic document platforms for multiple parties on the same case even when they’re on opposing sides, so I don’t think offering eDiscovery services would push any vendor out of a position of impartiality,” he says.

Given all the uncertainty around the space, it might be wise for medium and small court reporting to proceed cautiously with eDiscovery for now.

THE NEED TO KNOW

But even if your reporting firm decides in the end to pass on getting into the business, Farmani of Barkley Court Reporters suggests owners still need to keep abreast of what’s happening in the eDiscovery space.

One major reason in favor of staying up to date is that law firms have become extremely cost-conscious in recent years, and some may look, for example, to offset increases in their eDiscovery spending by cutting back on other expenditures like depositions and expedited transcripts.

Farmani says that to his knowledge that isn’t really happening yet, but he suggests it is something worth monitoring. At the very least, Farmani says individual reporters need to be familiar with the terminology of the eDiscovery process as its use is likely to be increasingly cited during both depositions and trial testimony.

If nothing else, Olivas suggests eDiscovery can be seen as further proof that the legal world is moving at an ever-accelerating pace toward a very tech-centric — and increasingly paperless — future.

“I think technology in general impacts every industry whether it is court reporting related or not – thus, it follows that the attorneys of today demand more tech tools than their colleagues did from yesteryear,” Olivas says.

Jason Primuth, executive vice president with NextGen Reporting headquartered in Wayne, Pa., agrees with Olivas’s statement. “I don’t see it so much as an increase of electronic discovery, but rather the realization that nearly all business and societal details are becoming digital — and nearly all discovery will be digital as a result,” says Primuth.

Primuth continues that even if they don’t get into eDiscovery specifically, smart court reporting firms are already figuring out news ways to help clients in this increasingly digital world. “One simple way is by providing online repositories for transcripts, exhibits, and video,” he says. “Remote depositions, while they have nothing to do with electronic discovery, are also a great way to use technology to serve clients in a new way. Like videography, remote depositions allows people to watch proceedings that they didn’t attend.”

The challenge for the court reporting community is that the price law firms and their clients are willing to pay for the latest legal tech — including eDiscovery and live Internet streams of depositions — seems to be at a plateau. “The clients want it, but they really don’t want to pay too much extra,” says Lemons. “We have come a long way from the premium pricing we used to enjoy.”

WILL THE FUTURE BE PAPERLESS?

Even in the midst of this tech revolution there is an admitted small group, both in and out of the legal profession, who predict that what goes around, comes around — and that the pendulum now swinging toward electronic communications, online repositories and ESI, will at some point move back toward printed transcripts, “snail mailed” documents, and phone calls.

In 2013 it was estimated that 90 percent of the world’s data since the beginning of history had been created in just the two previous years — and that trend is only going to grow. Eventually, doomsayers argue, the world’s ability to send (both wired and wirelessly) and store (in physical servers) all that content will be compromised, triggering a collapse of the Internet backbone and forcing industries, including the legal world, into a post-Internet world of paper-based communications.

But for the most part, that sort of pessimistic prognosticating elicits skepticism and humor from most people in the court reporting industry.  Primuth of NextGen Reporting notes, “While technology may have challenges or miscreants, I’m not too worried about a post-apocalyptic future where lawyers are forced to subsist with paper transcripts.”

Colucci adds there are still legal situations where lawyer prefer hard paper copies, such as when witness is being asked to read a document before signing it. But as far as a shift away from electronic transcripts, she says, “No, I don’t see that. We’re going to toil on because I don’t think most people want to go back.”

David Ward is a freelance journalist from Ramona, Calif. Comments on this article can be directed to jcrfeedback@ncra.org.

 

 

 

Passing the test: An interview with Denyce Sanders

Denyce Sanders, RMR, CRR, of Houston, Texas, recently agreed to be interviewed about passing NCRA’s Registered Merit Reporter exam on her first try. She has been freelance reporting for about 25 years and had also earned Texas’s CRR. She is also certified as a Realtime Systems Administrator through NCRA. Her next challenge is the Texas RMR – and she said she’s taking it “just for fun in June.”

JCR: You recently passed all three legs of the RMR exam — all on the first try — with four errors on the literary leg [out of 50 allowed], eight errors on the Jury Charge leg [out of 60 allowed], and ten errors on the Testimony leg [out of 65 allowed]. Does that sound right to you?

DS: Yes.

JCR: I’ve heard that the RMR is not the first test you passed on the first try. Can you tell me about your other experiences?

DS: Well, I had forgotten that I took the CRR more than 10 years ago. I had just updated my software, and it froze in the middle of the exam and that was all she wrote. I did pass the RPR the first time. I took the CRR in April of 2013 and passed that and then took the Texas CRR and passed that on the first try.

JCR: Before I jump into asking the tough questions, I know that participating in this interview might be a little uncomfortable for you — getting showcased like this — so I want readers out there to know that we reached out to you to spotlight you on your accomplishments, and that you didn’t approach us with the idea. Our purpose in spotlighting you is to help other reporters achieve similar results. You’ve mentioned that reporters don’t really ask you how you’re able to accomplish what you do. That seems odd to me, given your great achievements. Is that really how it is?

DS: Yes. While I try to support others in the profession as I have been helped by many others, reporters can be defensive and feel as if they are being judged if help is offered.  It is an unfortunate condition for the trade.  That’s very sad to me. I have always helped anyone I can, and I, in turn, have been helped myself, so I try to pass it on.

JCR: My purpose is to ask the questions that no one is asking you — to dive deeply into what you practice and how you practice that brings you such fantastic success. The future of the reporting industry is realtime, so let’s start there. Could you please explain what you did to prepare for your state and NCRA realtime certification exams, what you practiced, and how you practiced — including your daily practice routine?

DS: Well, first off, I have to say that I started working on my writing first. I knew that I wanted to take the CRR, but I knew it was the easiest test you’ll ever fail. My writing needed work. I wasn’t really serious about it. I had used Realtime Coach off and on but didn’t get serious until 2012. I had broken my thumb in 2008, and I broke my wrist in two places in September of 2012. I had surgery and am now the proud owner of two screws, a plate, and a nice scar! That delayed my plans a little.

So, I started out by honing my basic writing. I practiced slower takes and worked on each one until I got it perfect. Then I moved on. I focused solely on perfect writing for the CRR. I had been a reporter for a long time, so I had to work harder to work out some bad habits. I used mainly RTC for the CRR. I practiced every day if I could and a lot on weekends. If I couldn’t get a take right, I would break it down until I could. The month leading up to the CRR, I think I logged 36 hours of practice. I’m not a good test taker, and I wanted to be ready.

The RMR is a different animal. That’s about speed. I would warm up first with easy stuff and then I would work my way up in speed. I would try and practice before work each day using the Daily Warmup with RTC. I would also warm up my fingers by writing the alphabet and the numbers. I took it slow and built up my speed gradually. I didn’t really decide on when I would take it until I could write 240 easily. Then I decided I would take the RMR in November.

Setting a goal is important. It’s too easy to let work get in your way. There were a lot of times I would get a job scoped or proofed so I could practice. If a job canceled, I would practice. I made it my second job. I practiced every weekend without fail first thing in the morning, so nothing got in my way. To get ready, I practiced only hard material. On RTC, I would speed up and slow down the material. Pushing for the 260 was the hardest. My wrist was very unhappy with me. I had to take that part really slow. That was frustrating. I had to break it down into one-minute segments and vary the speed up and down. Quite honestly, I think that actually helped, looking back on it.

The last month before the exam, I did a Literary, Jury, and Q&A every practice session. The last two weeks, I would grade myself by tranning the job against what I had edited in RTC. The week before the RMR, I took the practice exam and I passed all three, so I knew I was ready! You just know when you are ready. If you think the 260 is fast, you are not ready. Practice until you can consistently write it. That’s the best advice I can give. I had all three legs of the RMR done and turned in in a little more than an hour.
Now those fast attorneys and witnesses — I consider them a challenge. There have been several times since I passed the RMR that I have said to myself “so glad I can write fast” because they were flying. But I still remember the first time I wrote a depo with zero untranslates — that was an awesome feeling! That doesn’t mean I wrote it perfect, but it was pretty darn clean! My record for zero untranslates is 250 pages.

Even now, my goal is zero untranslates every job. The one thing I can say is I wish that I had done this years ago. Every job is so much easier now!

JCR: You mentioned that you approached the RMR and the CRR practice differently. Do you think that it’s important to make that distinction as you practice? And which do you find comes closer to your work style – the RMR or the CRR? Is there one you would recommend that reporters get first?

DS: Wow. That’s a tough one. Personally, yes. If I had to do it again, I would get the RMR first. The RMR is a speed test and the CRR is an accuracy test, so it’s a lot easier to hone your writing for accuracy when you have that speed. I trashed my accuracy to gain speed. But if you want to focus on doing realtime, then get that CRR certification first. I think it’s mainly personal preference. And my work style is mainly CRR. That’s what I wanted to do first, and I enjoy the challenge — it keeps me on my toes. I love technology. I love being able to stream to the iPads. I recently heard that they added streaming to iPads via Wi-Fi as an element of the Realtime Systems Administrator test.

JCR: It’s exciting to hear that you find that having the tests under your belt makes you a better writer on the job. Do you think it’s the effective practice or the confidence that comes from having passed the tests?

DS: Hands down the practice. When you are sitting there in that conference room, the attorneys don’t know what certs you have or don’t have. The confidence comes from easily getting everything thrown at you, and then laughing to yourself when they tell the witness to slow down or they apologize for talking too fast, and you’re thinking to yourself, “No worries, I’ve got this!”

 

 

Member profile: Jo Anne Horn Leger

Name: Jo Anne Horn Leger

Currently resides in: Liberty County, Texas

Position: Official court reporter – 253rd District Court

Member since: 1988

Graduated from: Professional Court Reporting School, Richardson, Texas

Theory: Digitext

How did you learn about the career?

I participated in a cooperative education program in high school that allowed me to earn educational credit while gaining valuable job skills. I had a clerical job at an attorney’s office and realized at that time that I wanted to pursue something in the legal field. A deposition was being held at the attorney’s office one day, and a lady walked in carrying a gray Samsonite case. She had arrived early and asked to set up, at which time the legal assistant showed her to the conference room. When the assistant returned, I asked if the woman was an attorney for the deposition. The assistant then explained that the woman was the court reporter and takes the record using a stenograph machine. That piqued my curiosity, and I began searching for court reporting schools immediately. Although there were a couple of court reporting schools closer to home, I chose the Professional Court Reporting School in Richardson because they offered a free 30-day class to see if you would like the program before investing funds associated with the equipment.

What has been your best work experience so far?

It is hard to choose my best work experience. I have thoroughly enjoyed all of my work experience as a freelance reporter, broadcast captioner, and currently as an official reporter.

Think back to when you were a new reporter. What was your biggest hurdle to overcome and how did you do so?

I began my career as a freelance reporter. My biggest hurdle was the unknown. I remember being berated by attorneys when I walked in the door because they thought I am late, although his/her assistant had just phoned the firm because they forgot to schedule a court reporter for the deposition. A smile and politeness will help you overcome the unknown.

What surprised you about your career and why?

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that court reporters are like a close-knit family. When I first began reporting, I knew a number of reporters. I then started attending local association meetings and then state association conferences and then national conferences, and that is when I realized that this is a close-knit profession. No one truly understands what we do, unless you are one of us.

As a new reporter, the conferences are somewhat intimidating, but then you start meeting all of these gifted souls that inspire you and touch your life continuously through the years.

Do you have a favorite gadget? 

I do not really have a favorite gadget, but I do have a lot of favorite mobile apps. My favorites are

  • a scanner app, which allows me to scan any document with my phone;
  • my legislature online app, which allows me to keep up with my state’s legislative activity; and
  • Around Me, which figures out where I am located and gives me a list of everything local that I may need.

Favorite book or movie?

Favorite book: Any book written by Ann Rule.

Favorite movie: Sergeant York, a biographical film about a highly decorated soldier from World War I.

What are you most proud of in your career? Can you tell us what that experience was like?

I am very proud of the fact that after 27 years of reporting, I still love what I do! I have received numerous awards throughout my years of reporting, but the reward is the knowledge that I have gained over the years that I can share with others that might help them in some small way.

What advice or tips would you offer to new reporters?

My advice to new reporters: Never be afraid to ask your peers for help. Every single one of us was a new reporter at one time, and we are here to help. No matter how ridiculous you think a question may be, just ask! To this day, I still rely on the knowledge and wisdom of fellow reporters.

Favorite briefs

plea bargain = PHRAO-EB

plea agreement = PHRAO-EPLT

plea bargain agreement = PHRAO-EBT

Tip: Use the asterisk with an acronym and stroke it twice to spell out the acronym, i.e., TK*PS stroked twice is Department of Public Safety.

 

President’s message: Rolling down the river … Destination: NCRA

 

 

In my March President’s column, I spoke about change and its inevitability, and how arising out of that change, there is opportunity and growth.

I received an email from a former colleague indicating “… there’s a lot going on, so I’m sure you’ve been crazy busy!” And while I say that crazy busy is an understatement — insanely busy may sum it up better — it has been an honor to be at the forefront of the growth over this year within NCRA and our profession, and to see the reward that hard work, determination, and dedication brings forth.

At this time, we welcome our new Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director Michael (Mike) Nelson to the NCRA family. You probably read a bit about his background in the news release, and his first column as CEO/Executive Director is in this issue of the JCR. He is a talented executive with a strong background in association management, financial stewardship, and strategic thinking. We are lucky to have him to take the reins at NCRA, and I know I speak for the entire Board when I share that we are excited about what the future holds under his leadership.

To the Search Committee members, my wonderful Board of Directors, to our esteemed legal counsel, and our unbelievable Interim CEO/ED, Wendel Stewart, and the rest of the NCRA staff:  Thank you for a job well done and for the tremendous effort you put forth to make Mike’s arrival a reality. I know NCRA, our membership, and our profession are in good hands, and we should be proud!

Along with welcoming Mike onboard as our new executive leader, I want to announce another celebration underway. In early 2014, the Board approved placing our NCRA Vienna, Va., headquarters building on the market for sale. The time was right. Experts advised that with the expansion of public transportation in that area, it would be wise to consider selling the investment that we made in the headquarters building in the early 1990s. Indeed, it was. With five solid offers, negotiations continued well into the fourth quarter of 2014, and the sale was finalized late in the year.

With the sale behind us, we evaluated the future needs of NCRA and began searching for a headquarters that would speak to our forward-looking, contemporary association and its staff. We wanted something impressive, a headquarters location that would make a statement. Let me tell you what, the process has been insanely busy, but the end result, without a doubt, is going to be stunning.

The new NCRA headquarters will be located in a contemporary area of Reston, Va., just down the road a bit from our Vienna location and not too far from Dulles International Airport. The architects have dreamed up an office that captures the essence of stenographic court reporting, and our long, proud history will be on display for all those who visit.

Speaking of visiting, it is my privilege to extend to each of you an invitation to the “grand opening” at our new location and building, 12030 Sunrise Valley in Reston, Va.  With construction already underway and a late-summer move-in date expected, the NCRA Board of Directors and our dedicated staff and leadership will host a grand opening in conjunction with our November 2015 Board Meeting, which is scheduled for the second weekend in November. The exact date and time will be conveyed in the near future, but please save the date now and plan to attend.

In addition to being a showpiece for the profession in general, our new NCRA headquarters will allow us to conduct a wide range of meetings and events in our own space. It will be a headquarters we can all be proud of and we’re looking forward to conducting the business of committees, the Board of Directors, and other strategic alliances in a place we plan to call home for many years.

Excitement. Energy. Focus. Those are just three words that sum up my feelings about Mike joining our family, about the move to a new location, and about where our association and profession stand today. Has it been insanely busy? Yes. Would I change it for the world? Heck, no. I know for certain that we are moving down the road by uniting together and embracing the opportunities as they come our way. Actually, we have done better than that. We are creating the opportunities, and we are the driving force behind our futures, the future of NCRA, and the court reporting, captioning, and legal videography professions.

Sarah E. Nageotte, RDR, CRR, CBC, is NCRA’s president. 

Reporting: A meteor named Rocky

By Marianne Lindley Girten

In retrospect, it’s astonishing how briefly, yet how blindingly, the blaze of his personality soared through our orbit.

During only a three- or four-year time period, Rocky Jones was an inescapable gravitational force of fun for so many. He provided much-needed relief and release from the long hours and hard work for court reporting volunteers from many state associations who sacrifice to promote our profession. Few who met him will ever forget him.

An affable man, Rocky’s presence was huge both in physical size and in personality. Adding to his Alaskan-esque image was his beard framing a gold-rimmed tooth in the midst of his ceaseless smile. His size resulted in an ambling walk, like a two-legged Alaskan grizzly bear. But make no mistake, just as people respect and give a wide berth to a grizzly, so too did anyone with a potential criminal intent as I discovered when Rocky escorted me late one night in an area of Washington, D.C., so rough we couldn’t get a cab.

Our paths had crossed only briefly when we both attended Northern Technical School of Business on the Nicollet Mall of Minneapolis during the mid-1970s. We were in different speed classes, but we had mutual friends. In our 20s, it wasn’t unusual for our paths to cross at the nearby Longhorn Bar, or at the Arthur Treacher’s Fish & Chips on what was then an unsavory Hennepin Avenue one block away.

So it was with only a dim memory that, about ten years later, after I’d been in Anchorage for several years, I received a phone call from a tape-recording firm owner in Ketchikan, in Southeast Alaska, who delightedly told me she’d hired a steno reporter named Rocky Jones. “Isn’t that a dreamy name?” I still remember her saying. Because Ketchikan is an island and costly to visit, June hired Rocky over the phone. Much later, I asked Rocky how he’d agreed to move to a place that is known for horizontal rainfall of about 400 inches a year (no, that’s not a typographical error). Rocky replied that it was actually an easy decision after he read fishermen need guns because the halibut are so big that you have to shoot them to get them into the boat.

Anyone who knew Rocky is laughing, because as much as we all loved the man, “dreamy” wasn’t a term often assigned to him. Marshall Jorpeland, then Communications Director of NCRA, relished a photo of Rocky taken by the convention photographer. Mouth agape in a loud guffaw – a typical Rocky stance – Marshall and Rocky both considered it a perfect outtake of what was a then-common higher-education slogan that “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” The two felt that the photo would be better captioned, “A mind is a terrible thing.” That image and tag line epitomized Rocky’s reputation.

He seemed to take nothing seriously, always seeing the humor in life and in our work. After listening to a reporter complaining about the poor chair they had to use, Rocky nodded sympathetically and told about a deposition setting in the wheelhouse of a boat in the harbor, so small a space that Rocky had to sit with one leg outside on the deck of the boat, with the rumbling engine and screeching seagulls exacerbating the crew member’s foreign accent. But he wasn’t chastising the complainer; no, he always made you feel he truly listened to what you were saying, he truly felt you were important. Rocky was accepting of his own human shortcomings, and he seldom judged others.

One year, NCRA’s Leadership Conference was held during the course of wide media coverage about some whales trapped in the ice up on Alaska’s North Slope. (Drew Barrimore, I believe, later made a movie based on the story.) Everyone wanted Rocky to tell them about the whales. Now, Alaska is the largest state, and Rocky’s town of Ketchikan is as far from the whales’ plight as, say, Atlanta, Ga., is from the Grand Canyon; and Rocky was getting about as upset as Rocky ever got about anything. I still can remember sitting in a meeting and looking up at the sound of an approaching commotion in the hall. It was Rocky, trying to evade even more questions but still surrounded by 20 or 30 other conference attendees, mostly young pretty women, ambling down the hallway. He was a court reporter Alaskan celebrity.

Rocky had a real gift for storytelling, and even a serious story usually had a line of humor running through it. He had reported proceedings in a gruesome murder, but rather than discuss the gory details, his favorite story was about an investigator. In typical Rocky fashion, the story poked fun at Rocky himself, too. Apparently there was testimony about the background, awards and recognition given the investigator. Rocky’s brief for “police officer” was PHR-OFR. Rocky’s finger slipped, with the result that the line came out something like, “So you are a lover (HR-OFR) of some renown and acclaim?” The investigator and Rocky became fast friends.

As did almost everyone else who entered Rocky’s orbit.

Rocky and Lenny DiPaolo, another Anchorage reporter, room-shared during that Leadership Conference. One evening, I knocked at their door, as agreed, to go to dinner. Inside, in one of the smallest hotel rooms I’d ever seen, were almost 20 reporters from all over the country, laughing and talking. They finished off everything alcoholic in the refrigerator. The two stoically paid the bill, and anyone who’s ever gaped at mini-bar charges can understand why, after dinner that night, I watched the two men hoist cases of long-neck bottles on their shoulders and carry them through the lobby of a chic Ritz Carlton back up to their rooms so the next cocktail hour would be less expensive.

As his fan base grew, reporters from different states clamored for more Alaskan stories from him. During the closing festivities, reporters actually physically threw money at him, bills, checks, and coins, to become members of the Ketchikan Court Reporters Association (by this time, Rocky was the sole reporter on the island) in hopes he would distribute a newsletter. Few people know that for almost a year he would periodically call me, agonizing that he had lost all that money. True to his character, he had planned to contribute it to our also-tiny state association. A year later, again at Leadership, the mystery was solved: Someone at the prior conference had given him a necktie case, a gag gift because in small town Alaska nobody wore ties. Rocky had put his one and only tie and the “membership” money into the case, put it aside when he got home, and promptly forgotten he even had a tie case. The next time he opened the necktie case was a year later, when he re-visited civilization.

But Rocky was more complex than it appeared. He rarely showed it in public, but he had no tolerance for complaining, especially about the “plight” of court reporters. The reason became apparent during the first-ever state convention for the Alaska Court Reporters Association.

Karen Ford originated the ASRA concept about 1980, before Rocky moved to the land of horizontal rain, guns, and big fish. Lynda Batchelor (now Barker) revived the idea in the mid-1980s, about the same time as the NCRA leadership taught us how to increase the image of court reporting in Alaska’s audio-recording-dominated legal landscape. Added to our sense of being treated as second class in capturing the record (“Miss Court Reporter, will you play back the tape?”) was our remote location (people Outside live in “the States”). So it was that, seeking camaraderie, we had a huge turnout for our first convention.

The final seminar speaker failed to show so we turned it into a panel discussion, letting us all get to know each other better. Lynda and Rocky were both from Southeast, about 700 miles south of Anchorage. Carol McCue and Jeanine Riley were from either Bethel or Fairbanks, one reachable only by air, the other 350 miles away on the one road to the north. One of the attendees complained how stressful a court reporter’s life is. Then it was Rocky’s turn. He harrumphed, shook some unseen tenseness out of his shoulders, and gave us the story of how he became a reporter:

He had quit NTSB in Minneapolis out of frustration, stuck in his 140s. He’d become a Montana prison guard. One day there was a riot. Rocky and another guard had taken safety in a small room without a window. Time passed. The other guard finally lost it and tore the phone out of the wall, losing contact with the outside. As Rocky put it, the prisoners were shoving burning mattresses against the door to smoke the two men out, all the while letting them know “what they were going to do to us *before* they killed us.” Finally rescue arrived when the prisoners were tear-gassed. Rocky and the other guard were immediately separated, interrogated, and reprimanded even before seeing a doctor.

By this time the convention room was completely still, and Rocky continued that he tried to keep working for almost a year, but that he finally filed workers’ comp over his mental trauma. He went back to court reporting school and started theory all over again. In one year, he completed his 225s. That’s when he gazed around the room, flashed that gold-rimmed tooth at us through his beard, and said: “So I’m here to tell you that there’s no stress in court reporting.” Nevertheless, Rocky could never sit with his back to an open room.

Rocky openly spoke with awe and admiration for “Saint Margaret,” his wife, Maggie. And his eyes gleamed and his voice softened whenever he spoke about his daughter Angie.

Then about the mid-1990s, things fell apart. He occasionally spoke of depression, and we could tell he was struggling. Work referrals suffered. It was impossible to get hold of him. I once left a message at a bar in Ketchikan that he’d sometimes mentioned because he wasn’t answering his work phone. He never announced he was quitting reporting; he just quit reporting. He went through a divorce. He talked of moving to Texas.

I don’t think Rocky appeared at a court reporting function, either in Alaska or elsewhere, since about 1992. Yet more than 20 years later, people still eagerly asked me about him.

 

It’s funny sometimes how a person suddenly crosses your mind. So it was with Rocky, just last week. I wanted to tell him that Lynda Batchelor Barker’s husband had died, and I called Lenny for the first time in ages, to catch up and to ask if he knew how to contact Rocky. And that’s when I heard that this affable teddy bear of a man, who’d been a rock on more than one occasion for me, whose greatest gift to me had been teaching me that, in all the trials and tribulations of being a court reporter, not to sweat the petty things – that’s when I received the painful news that that gold-rimmed guffaw was stilled almost a year ago.

It’s as if the light of a meteor passing across our heavens has burned out.

Marianne Lindley Girten, RDR, CMRS (Ret.), is a reporter in South Dakota. She can be reached at mygr10@gmail.com.

 

CERTIFICATION: 10 tips for passing the CRR

By Keith Lemons

I was a lousy test-taker. I took the RPR seven times and only passed it the last time because my wife had gone to the mall in Denver and I had no ride. So I transcribed it and passed. I realized that if I wanted to pass the CRR, I had to make a plan. So this is what I did, and I passed it. Here are 10 ways to make your test-taking experience easier.

1. Buy the CRR dictation material from National Court Reporters Association. It’s the actual dictation from past CRR tests.
2. Always practice at the same time each day. I practiced from 7-7:30 a.m.
3. Limit the amount of test material to 30 minutes.
4. After writing all the tests, practice the one that feels the easiest until you write it flawlessly.
5. Start out with the easiest take in practice.
6. Alternate heavy or hard takes, a different set every other day.
7. Always end with the same easy take. The CRR is about feeling good about your writing. You already have the skill.
8. Notice there are certain phrases that occur in all the tests, like Paul Cross or trial judge or trial court. Put these phrases in your personal dictionary. Listen for them. You’ll see.
9. Drop an unfamiliar word and keep writing. One word, one error. Many words, anything you write that isn’t the word doubles the errors.
10. The test will hit a wall at about three minutes. Do not look at your screen. Focus on a point on the floor and write through it.

I did these things for 30 days straight. I passed. If you write realtime consistently, you can too.
JCR Contributing Editor Keith Lemons, RPR, CRR, is a freelancer in Brentwood, Tenn. He can be reached at k.lemons@comcast.net.

NCRA’s Certification Soup

What do all those letters behind a reporters name mean? The professionals who earned certifications like the RPR or CRR have passed skills and/or written knowledge tests that show they are adequately qualified to perform a job or tasks and that they possess advanced knowledge of issues, standards, policies and procedures, and practices specific to their professional field. Below is a brief description of the two offered by NCRA that were mentioned in the article. These two certifications test stenographic skills.

Registered Professional Reporter (RPR): The nationally recognized Registered Professional Reporter certification distinguishes stenographic court reporters considered to be among the top contributors to the profession in terms of technology, reporting practices, and professional practices. To be recognized as a RPR, candidates must pass a written knowledge test on industry best practices and a skills test that combines a challenging threshold of both speed and accuracy. RPR-certified court reporters are in high demand among the nation’s premier law firms, courthouses and other scenarios in which a reliable, accurate transcript of proceedings is required.

Certified Realtime Reporter (CRR)

The Certified Realtime Reporter (CRR) is nationally recognized as a court reporter with knowledge of cutting-edge realtime technology, proficiency, accuracy and of reporting. Realtime reporting produces an immediate transcript of proceedings by using a steno machine connected to a computer that instantly translates spoken word to text. CRRs are highly sought after because of their proven precision in reporting and high-quality realtime services. CRRs hold the RPR certification and have passed, with high accuracy, tests that include equipment set-up, accurate realtime writing, and through knowledge of realtime technology.

CAPTION CORNER: What is CART?

 

By Laura Brewer

Perhaps you’ve heard of CART captioning, but you don’t really understand what it is. You are not alone. I once had a prospective client call me, wondering how much room the CART took up! That brought a smile to my face, because I am the CART. She thought I would wheel in a device on a cart that would magically provide instant speech-to-text service. That day has not yet arrived, despite much progress in voice recognition. In order to produce accurate speech-to-text of multiple speakers at high speeds, it takes a person – a CART captioner.

CART – communication access realtime translation – is realtime speech-to-text provided by a CART captioner (stenographer) using a stenograph machine, computer, and special software. Like a court reporter, a CART captioner can write at high speeds, capturing what people say, and turning it into instant text via special software. One way I like to contrast court reporting from CART captioning is by explaining that  while court reporters must write verbatim, they do not have to be 100 percent accurate because they have the opportunity to edit and correct their transcripts. CART captioners, in contrast, do not need to write 100 percent verbatim, but what we write must be highly accurate and accurately reflect what is being said, no matter how arcane the language, thick the accent, or foreign the name.

CART captioners use much of the same equipment as court reporters, including similar software. However, we must refine our writing and our dictionaries (computer files that translate steno outlines into English words and phrases as well as computer macros) to meet the demands of having to accurately reflect unexpected names, terms, formulas, and environmental sounds.

CART captioners develop special skills in order to meet this challenge. Like sign language interpreters, we “finger-spell,” using specially developed steno outlines that are defined as letters that abut one another when we need to build an unusual word or name letter by letter. Because we are acting as “ears” for our clients, hearing and writing what they are unable to hear, we must be able to accurately indicate whatever environmental sounds occur, such as a telephone ringing, siren sounding, or dog barking. Unlike court reporters, who are limited to reporting only what is on the record, CART captioners must write whatever is said within the hearing range of the CART consumer.

There is a special code of ethics related to CART captioning as well – taking care not to reveal the name of a deaf or hard-of-hearing client, being sure not to interject oneself into communication except in order to carry out our work, and, importantly, treating the CART captioning file (transcript) as the property of the presenter or our client.

CART captioning is a diverse field that covers all types of events: classroom work – both on site and remote – conferences, meetings, litigation, and broadcast. Maybe CART is in your future.

Laura Brewer, RDR, CRR, CBC, CCP, is a captioner and agency owner based in Los Altos, Calif. She can be reached through her website, quicktext.com. This article was originally published on the Kramm Court Reporting blog available at kramm.com/blog.

 

 

The last page: What he said

TIME FLIES
Q. When was the date of that last visit with Dr. Beale?
A. It would have been from January 2014, that time.
Q. So in the last couple of days you’ve seen him?
MR. GREEN: No. This is ’15.
THE WITNESS: January. This is 2015.
MS. JONES: Oh, I’m sorry.
MR. GREEN: A whole year has gone by.
MS. JONES: I am so sorry.
MR. GREEN: I missed it too.
Elsa Jorgensen
Birmingham, Mich.

LISTEN CAREFULLY
Q. And, so, did you have an opportunity to go over the fence or go to the yard on the other side of the fence that was located directly to the back of 307 Main Avenue?
A. Just to the west, yes. There was an amount of debris, broken-down wood, things that are thrown behind the garage, and I was able to, along with other members of the unit, go behind there and look for any discarded evidence.
MR. SMITH: When you say “left,” we are talking about left on this photograph?
MS. JONES: I haven’t shown him the photograph.
MR. SMITH: I don’t know what left is. Object.
THE COURT: What direction are we talking about?
MS. JONES: Judge, I hadn’t shown him the photograph.
THE WITNESS: I don’t remember. I said “left?” I said, “west,” sir.
MR. SMITH: West?
THE WITNESS: Just west of the fence line.
THE COURT: That’s what I heard, too, Tom.
MR. SMITH: Okay.
THE COURT: You’re still deaf.
MR. SMITH: I guess I am. My wife tells me that.
Adam H. Alweis, RPR
Syracuse, N.Y.

TMI
Q. What did you do to get ready for testifying today, as far as looking at documents or talking to people or whatever?
A. Tried to push my hair down. For some reason, it’s staying up real bad for the past two days. Showered. Sat in a cold room, waiting for my grandparents to finish up in here.
Denyce Sanders, RPR, CRR
Houston, Texas

READY OR NOT
Q. When did you become engaged to Miss Smith?
A. We’ve been together for about 32 years and we’ve been engaged about 30 years. We haven’t plunged yet, you know.
Q. All right. So you’ve been together with Miss Smith for 32 years?
A. Uh-huh.
Q. That’s a yes?
A. Yes, that’s a yes.
Q. Okay. All right. Do you have any plans on getting married?
A. Yes. We — we planning on to. I popped the question to her seven times. She’s not ready yet.
Michele L. Fontaine, RPR
Leicester, Mass.

ASK THE OBVIOUS
Q. Now, when these declarations were filed in the 1970s, these witnesses who signed these affidavits were presumably alive; is that correct?
A. I’m assuming if they signed it, that they were alive. Yes, sir.
Q. Right. That’s probably about the worst question I’ve asked. So thank you for your kind answer. I’ve had witnesses who –
THE COURT: May I inject, he’s one who knew what the answer is.
Beth Hurst-Waitz, RMR
Albuquerque, N.M.

WHAT’S IN A NAME?
BY THE COURT:
Q. Ms. Stallworth, what is your full name?
A. Christine.
Q. Just Christine Stallworth?
A. Christine Stallworth.
Q. No middle name?
A. H. Yeah, H in the middle of there.
Q. H?
A. Uh huh.
Q. What does the H stand for?
A. Christine H. Stallworth.
Kathy L. Parker
Pascagoula, Miss.

LESS THAN ZERO
Q. Fair to say that by this point, you are not Mr. So-and-so’s biggest fan?
A. That’s correct. Wait a minute. No. That assumes that he has got a fan besides myself, that he has got one fan at least, and when I asked him those questions in discovery, he didn’t seem to have any fans.
Deborah Elderhorst
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

ALL CROSSED UP
Q. The cross that you’re crossing across, is it only crossing across oncoming traffic?
Linda Webster, RPR
Fort Worth, Texas

KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
(Three out of the four attorneys in the room were balding.)
Q. How about the driver of the black SUV; could you describe that driver?
A. He looked to me like a middle-aged guy, I would say Ethiopian maybe or Moroccan. He was balding. Like, his hairline was pretty much back to the back of his head.
Q. Poor guy. I know where he’s going.
A. Huh?
Q. I know where I’m headed.
MR. SMITH: Been there, done that not too long ago.
THE WITNESS: Great. Now I’ve alienated half the room.
MR. JONES: That’s right.
Donna L. Linton, RMR
Ashburn, Va.

GOT YOUR NUMBER
Q. So if I was to get records from him, it’s just Dr. Black? It’s not like Primary Healthcare or —
A. He gave birth to me. So I don’t know. So what do you call it? Family health, family physician. He’s my birth doctor. Father-and-son practice.
Diana D. Sabo
Tinley Park, Ill.

AFTER-DINNER MINTS
BY MR. JONES:
Q. Mr. Smith, would you identify Exhibit No. 3, please.
A. Okay.
Q. I’m going to move closer. I’m going to apologize about my breath right now.
A. As long as you don’t kiss me.
Q. It’s tempting, but I can probably restrain myself.
A. Good. Next time, skip the onions.
Amy Doman, RPR, CRR
Carmel, Ind.

Get to know NCRA Board of Directors nominees

NCRA’s Nominating Committee has offered its candidates for the 2015-16 Board of Directors. The following outlines the candidates’ qualifications for members to prepare for voting. As provided in the bylaws, additional nominations are possible if received within 60 days after publication of the Nominating Committee slate. The date by which additional nominations must be received is June 14.

Nominations will be presented to the NCRA membership for vote on Thursday, July 30, at the Annual Business Meeting, 8:30–11 a.m. Eastern Time, as part of NCRA’s 2015 Convention & Expo at the Hilton New York Midtown, in New York. Final voting on any contested elections will be conducted electronically on July 30 following the NCRA Annual Business Meeting.

StevePRESIDENT

Stephen A. Zinone, RPR

Pittsford, New York

Stephen A. Zinone, RPR, is an official court reporter from Pittsford, N.Y., who has served as Director, Secretary-Treasurer, and President-elect of NCRA. He started out freelancing in 1983, working as a reporter in the Monroe County Town Courts and in the deposition arena. In 1989, he was employed by the Monroe County D.A.’s office as a grand jury reporter, where he worked until 1997. He spent the next three years working in federal court for the Western District of New York. Since 2001, Zinone has worked for the New York State Unified Court System in the 7th and 8th Judicial Districts, and he is now assigned to the Ontario County Courts.

A member of NCRA since 1986, Zinone has served on its Finance Committee, Communication and Outreach Committee, and the Cost Comparison Task Force. He also served on the New Affiliates Task Force Committee in 2008.

Zinone is a member of the New York State Court Reporters Association, the StenoCAT Users Group, the United States Court Reporters Association, Society for the Technological Advancement of Reporting, and the National Association for Court Management. He first served on the board of the New York State Court Reporters Association in 2002, including as its president in 2008. He also served on the Board of Directors of the StenoCAT Users Group for several years.

 

TivaPRESIDENT-ELECT

Nativa P. Wood, RDR, CMRS

Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania

Nativa P. (Tiva) Wood is a per diem court reporter from Mechanicsburg, Pa., who holds the nationally recognized professional certifications of Registered Diplomate Reporter and Certified Manager of Reporting Services. Before retiring in early 2015, she had served as chief court reporter for the Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas since 2003. Prior to that, she served the same court as an official court reporter from 1977 to 2003. Wood was honored with the designation of Fellow of the Academy of Professional Reporters.

Wood is a long-time member of NCRA and has served on its Board of Directors since 2012. She has also served on an array of NCRA’s committees including Placement, Insurance, Convention Planning, Nominating, and the National Committee of State Associations Resolution Committees. Wood has also served on the General Appeals Task Force and the Steno Opportunities in the Courts Task Force. She is a past member and chair of NCRA’s Council of the Academy of Professional Reporters and the Committee on Professional Ethics. In addition, Wood has served on the Board of the National Court Reporters Foundation and as its chair. She is also an NCRF Angel.

Wood is an active member of the Pennsylvania Court Reporters Association. As its president, she successfully lobbied for a public hearing on licensing for court reporters and testified before the Pennsylvania Senate Professional Licensure Committee. She has spoken on behalf of PCRA to a Pennsylvania Superior Court subcommittee investigating the computerization of the courts and the impact of court reporting technology. In addition, she was one of several speakers at the unveiling of the NCRA-sponsored computer integrated courtroom in the federal courthouse in Philadelphia, which was covered by affiliates of NBC, CBS, and ABC.

 

ChristineVICE PRESIDENT

Christine J. Willette, RDR, CRR, CCP

Wausau, Wisconsin

Christine J. Willette, RDR, CRR, CCP, has been a court reporter since 1985 and is the owner of Willette Court Reporting in Wausau, Wis. Willette has served on the NCRA Board of Directors for four years, as well as on a number of the organization’s committees, including the National Outreach Committee, CLVS Council Board Liaison, the Freelance Community of Interest, and Committee on Professional Ethics.

Willette also served as a National Committee of State Associations delegate from Wisconsin for a number of years and on the committee’s Governing Board. She has participated in NCRA’s Boot Camp and Leadership training programs. Willette is an NCRF Angel. She has been a member of NCRA since 1985.

Willette is a member of the Wisconsin Court Reporters Association and has served on the organization’s Board of Directors and as its president. She has served on many of its committees and task forces, organized its first realtime contest, managed its website, presented seminars, planned conventions, and contributed to its quarterly newsletter.

 

SECRETARY-TREASURER

Doreen Sutton, RPR

Scottsdale, Arizona

Doreen Sutton is a freelance reporter from Scottsdale, Ariz., with 23 years of experience. She holds the professional certification of Registered Professional Reporter and has covered depositions, arbitrations, and mediations. She also has grand jury and CART experience, as well as per-diem experience reporting for the various superior court venues in Arizona. As a member of NCRA, she has served on the association’s Test Advisory Committee and in various other volunteer roles. She has also served as a contributor to NCRA’s membership publication, the JCR. Sutton has been nominated to serve a second term as NCRA Secretary-Treasurer.

Active at the state level, Sutton is a past president of the Arizona Court Reporters Association and has also served as editor of its membership publication, ArizoNotes, and as co-chair of its Student Seminars. In 2013, she was awarded the ACRA Distinguished Service Award. Sutton holds certifications in the states of California and Arizona.

Prior to entering the court reporting profession, Sutton worked in the areas of banking, bookkeeping, payroll, and accounting.

 

DIRECTORS (Three-year term)

MikeMichael E. Miller, RDR, CRR

Friendswood, Texas

Michael (Mike) Miller has spent his 20-plus-year career pushing the limits and being a vocal advocate for freelance reporters, rising to the level of “self-appointed reporting superhero” due in large part to his website, Depoman.com, and frequent speaking engagements. Like most reporters, Miller spends his days banging those keys with the hopes that today’s witness learned English in Omaha rather than in Bangalore. Miller has traveled with his machine to most corners of the world, reporting arbitrations in Reykjavik and depositions in Bangkok. Most recently, he has been providing immediate copy on a special assignment.

Miller holds the professional certifications of Registered Diplomate Reporter and Certified Realtime Reporter, and he was honored with the designation of Fellow of the Academy of Professional Reporters. Additionally, Miller is certified in California, Louisiana, and Texas. He is past president of the Society for the Technological Advancement of Reporting. He is co-creator and original lead presenter of the NCRA Realtime Systems Administrator certificate program.

JenniferJennifer Sati, RMR, CRR, CBC, CCP, CRI

Dayton, Minnesota

Jennifer Sati has been a court reporter since 1985 and holds the professional certifications of Registered Merit Reporter, Certified Realtime Reporter, Certified Broadcast Captioner, Certified CART Provider, and Certified Reporting Instructor. She is from Dayton, Minn., and currently serves as program director and instructor for judicial reporting and broadcast captioning at Anoka Technical College in Anoka, Minn. She continues to caption professionally and also leads the school’s annual Veterans History Project event, which honors local veterans and captures their wartime stories.

A member of NCRA, Sati currently serves on its Council on Approved Student Education and as a chief examiner and proctor for the CRR, CBC, and CCP NCRA Skills Tests. At the state level, Sati was awarded the Distinguished Service Award in 2012 and the Instructor of the Year in 2005 by the Minnesota Association of Verbatim Reporters and Captioners. She is a frequent presenter and contributor to the association’s conventions and its membership publication. Sati is a past vice president and secretary of the Minnesota Freelance Court Reporters Association, which has since merged with MAVRC.

LindaLinda K. McSwain, RPR

Mobile, Alabama

Linda K. McSwain is an official court reporter from Mobile, Ala., with more than 20 years of experience as a freelance and official court reporter. She holds the professional certifications of Registered Professional Reporter, as well as the Alabama Certified Shorthand Reporter. McSwain has also worked as a freelance reporter taking depositions and covering public hearings. She has been awarded multiple certificates of appreciation for producing accurate, timely, and completed transcripts.

She has held membership in NCRA for more than 20 years. McSwain has served on the National Committee for State Associations for more than four years. She currently holds the position of NCSA Vice Chair. In that capacity, she has presented seminars at State Leadership Conferences and NCRA Conventions. In addition, McSwain has also been a participant in NCRA’s Leadership Training, Legislative Boot Camp, and State Leadership Conferences.

McSwain has been involved with the Alabama Court Reporters Association, of which she is still a member. She has served on various committees for ACRA, including as past president. During her service, she worked to help develop certification for the Alabama Court Reporters Association.