What’s happening in the courthouse?

What's happening in the courthouse

Budget cuts in many states have led to increased concern about the continued place of court reporters in U.S. courts. The reality is far more varied.

It has been a challenging decade for state, local, and county official court reporters, to say the least. Not only have they been routinely targeted by judicial bureaucrats seeking cost savings by implementing recording technology, but they’ve also at times been swept up in the new privatization of government services trend, with courtrooms replacing officials — and their pensions and benefits — with independent reporters working on a per diem basis.

SO HOW IS THE OFFICIAL COURT REPORTING COMMUNITY HOLDING UP?

While that largely depends on not only who you ask, but where you go, for the most part, it can be characterized as not as good as it used to be, but not quite as bad as initially feared. In some states, such as Texas, there are even opportunities for young court reporters to embark on a career as an official provided they’re willing to start by working in a remote part of the state. Other states, such as Oregon, have no official reporters outside of the federal courts — and despite at least one high profile case involving a problematic digital audio recording of the penalty phase of a capital murder trial, there’s very little chance of reporters being put back on the payroll full-time any time soon. [Ed. note: There is a bill pending in Oregon that would require a court reporter on capital cases.]

It’s also interesting to note how the strategies employed by official reporters and the state court reporting associations that often go to bat on their behalf can vary dramatically from state to state. In California, for example, court reporters have largely succeeded in keeping out electronic recording, though independent reporters are now being brought in and paid for by the attorneys in civil cases in counties where some or all officials have been laid off. (See sidebar on page 40 for more about California’s changing landscape.) In contrast, in King County, Wash., the relatively successful focus of the unionized official reporters was on allowing electronic recording for some trials but keeping outside reporter from hearing cases.

And in Florida, the battle to keep out digital has resulted in a compromise of sorts: a mixture of digital audio, officials, and contract independents from local firms who work per diem, all of which is determined by the chief judge in each circuit. “The pendulum has swung and the courts have reached their own water level in terms of reporting methods,” says Sandra Estevez, current president of the Florida Court Reporters Association. “The power of the purse dictates the needs of the courts and hybrid methods utilized.”

In some states, you can find a silver lining if you look hard enough. Even California has Fresno County where there are still plenty of officials on staff, even as other counties have laid off all the official court reporters and privatized trial work.

If there is any lesson to be gained from looking at official court reporters in different states, it’s the notion of geography playing a role in destiny. If you’re fortunate enough to work as an official in a state or county with court administrators who value the integrity of the record over real or supposed budget savings, you have some job security. If not, then it doesn’t matter if you’re the most professional and skilled reporter in any courtroom — your job will likely be affected at some point, if it hasn’t been already.

Because of those disparities, this article is not meant to be an all-encompassing overview of how officials are faring. Rather, it’s a snapshot of sorts of what’s happening in various parts of the country and how officials reporters are either adjusting or battling the changes that are being proposed to their jobs.

With that caveat in place, here’s a look at the good, the not-so-good, and the somewhere in-between for officials across the country.

TEXAS OFFERS OPPORTUNITIES

There were numerous states that declined the opportunity to participate in this story, with several suggesting these were far too sensitive times to talk about this issue publicly. But of the ones that did, you would be hard to find a place better to be an official court reporter these days than Texas.

While there had been a bit of chatter about electronic recording or reducing the number of officials in Texas in the past, none of it was serious and none has been that recent, says Glyn Poage, RDR, CRR, an official court reporter in Texas’s 166th District Court in Bexar County in the San Antonio area and NCRA Vice President.

“We really haven’t had to fight back because it hasn’t really happened that much,” Poage says. “The reason official reporters have done so well in Texas is that we have the support of our legislature and of the Supreme Court of Texas. It’s been a real team effort centered on protecting the record and protecting the rights of everyone involved in the legal system.”

Poage explained that the court reporters in Texas are all employed by counties that handle statutory as well as district court trials and hearings. “Each reporter is assigned to a particular judge. But if that judge is not in court for a reason, the court reporter will be assigned to another courtroom for that day,” he says, and adds that unlike other states, younger reporters can still aspire to become state officials, provided they’re willing to venture to the state’s more rural areas and work for a judge who’s covering three or four counties.

Because of their success in keeping official court reporters in the state’s courtrooms, Poage said he is occasionally asked by colleagues in other states for advice, and he has to concede there’s no secret strategy to Texas’s success.

“Some of it has to do with the fact that so many of our legislators are actual trial attorneys, and they don’t want have to track down a transcript from someone who’s not in the courthouse,” Poage says. “Also, our official reporters really do stress dependability and professionalism — Texas is a CSR state and the Supreme Court of Texas oversees the test and the certification.”

“It comes down to the fiscal responsibilities of those in charge. Court reporters really don’t make money decisions; we just do our job. In Texas, the legislature and the others who make funding decisions — and keep in mind that Texas is a growing state with a good economy — have handled it very well and been able to provide services for the residents of our state. It’s them, and it’s not us,” Poage says.

OREGON’S MIXED BAG

When electronic recording companies began making their cost saving pitch across the country in the 1990s and early 2000s, Oregon was one of the states that bought into it hook, line, and sinker. The state courts laid off most of the state’s official court reporters and installed electronic recording systems from For the Record, known by many as FTR. The clerks in the courtroom were given the additional duty of monitoring that equipment, making the recording, and labeling them and storing them.

There are still official reporters in Oregon’s federal courthouses, says Robin Nodland, RDR, CRR, of LNS Court Reporting and Videoconferencing, based in Portland, Ore. And not every case in Oregon is electronically recorded.

“If a particular litigant wants a reporter in the courtroom, they can hire them privately,” Nodland says. “So in reality, it’s been a cost shifting and not a cost savings.” She adds that in some civil cases, opposing counsels agree to split the cost for a reporter.

“When we go into a courtroom, there’s a form that we need to get all the parties to sign that stipulates that we are the official record — otherwise it’s the digital recording that is the official record. The other requirement is that you must be a certified shorthand reporter, which is our state designation, or a registered professional reporter, which is the NCRA certification, or higher.”

The removal of officials has provided a modest boost to court reporting firms in Oregon as they can now count on some trial work as part of their day-to-day business. “A lot of firms have reporters who used to do trial work as officials,” Nodland says. “They love trial work, and they love going back there and handling it. But it’s not a full-time job for any reporter.”

What’s stunning about Oregon is how quickly they got rid of their official court reporters, not just for run-of-the-mill traffic and misdemeanor cases, but for everything, including aggravated murder cases where the death penalty in a possibility. One high-profile Oregon murder case — that of Randy Guzek, convicted and sentenced to death for a 1987 double murder — led to decades of appeals centered on whether new evidence can be provided during the sentencing phase of a trial. Some of those appeals were in courtrooms where digital audio was used and the quality of those recordings was so poor, it triggered calls from the Oregon’s leading newspapers, the Oregonian, to bring back court reporters at the very least for capital murder trials. There is a bill currently before the Oregon Senate to require just that, but at our deadline, the bill’s fate remained uncertain.

MIDDLE GROUND

For most states, the situation for officials is far less draconian. Many still have official reporters, just not nearly at the numbers they were several years ago. New Jersey is a good example of this. “When I left my position as an official court reporter in 1996, there were 210 officials in New Jersey. Now we’re down to fewer than 40,” says Robert Boccolini, RPR, current president of the New Jersey Certified Court Reporters Association.

This decline in numbers has been slow but steady, and Boccolini says that it’s all attrition rather than lay-offs. “The state did have a plan a few years back to hire a few reporters who were either realtime certified or planning to become realtime in the next two years,” he says. “But that ended up adding fewer than 10 — and since then people who have retired have not been replaced.”

Virtually all of the remaining New Jersey officials are providing realtime for their judges, including one Newark reporter whose judge is hearing impaired. “If not for realtime, we would be gone,” Boccolini says. “It saved the jobs that are still there by making them more valuable.”

But because of their reduced numbers, New Jersey official reporters, all of whom are employed by the state rather than individual counties, tend to focus on only criminal cases, save for special circumstances such as highly complex civil trials with multiple litigants on both sides.

But as Boccolini says, “How can somebody make a decision that somebody’s civil case is less important than a criminal case. True, you could argue you’re not just going to lose your money [in a criminal case], you’re going to lose your liberty. But if you’re a plaintiff in a civil case, and you’ve got catastrophic injuries due to negligence in traffic accident, who says one trial isn’t as important as another?”

It was exactly that kind of issue that prompted the official court reporters in King County, Wash., to go to management to work out a method to prioritize criminal and civil cases, starting at the top on the criminal side with murder, serious assault, and rape, and then to cases involving young children because digital audio can’t often pick up their quiet voices. The priority then shifts to complex civil litigation that involve multiple attorneys asking for services such as daily transcripts, because it’s a lot harder to get transcripts from electronic recordings in an expedited fashion.

“In King County, it used to be a one-on-one: every judge had a court reporter. There were 39 reporters here about 10 years ago,” explained Michelle Vitrano, RDR, CRR, CPC, an official with King County for the past 23 years. “And then the budget started getting bad, and they installed more FTR. Now we have 11 reporters in downtown Seattle and four in our regional courthouse in Kent, so 15 total reporters for 55 judges.”

Vitrano says that when there is no court reporter available, the judge has to turn to electronic recording. “We’re unionized and we have fought very hard not to allow outside reporters into our courtrooms,” she says. “But we are losing two people this year, and it’s getting very busy. We’re running from court to court, and we’re all providing realtime. So it’s crazy around here, but we are still employed.”

Other counties — all official reporters in Washington state are employed by the county and not the state — seem to doing as well if not better than King County. Vitrano suggests the worst may be over, saying: “They’ve pretty well got all the cost savings they can out of us.”

For other states, success is measured by how close they’ve been able to maintain the status quo.

In Tennessee, for instance, officials organized quickly to beat back an attempt by the state Administrative Office of the Courts in 2010 to first replace staff official reporters with contract reporters hired on a per diem basis and then eventually replace those workers with contract workers who would monitor electronic recordings.

“The officials gathered as much information and documentation as possible, in the limited time we had to work with, regarding outcomes in other states that had eliminated officials in the past and presented it to our judges,” says one official who requested anonymity. “The judges were extremely supportive of the official reporters and resisted this attempt by the AOC to eliminate reporters from the criminal courts. We were eventually notified that there would not be any further cuts at that time. Personally, I think they were surprised by the strong resistance they encountered from the judges.”

Even with that victory, fewer than 30 official court reporters remain employed by the state and none work in civil court. If attorneys want something other than a digital audio recording, they have to hire a reporter privately to come in for that trial or hearing. But for now at least there are no plans to eliminate any more official positions, the source adds, “I think our judges are the reason Tennessee still has court reporters in the courts today.”

Some states are seeing a change even now. In 2009, due to budgetary issues, many Iowa state court employees, including reporters, were laid off due to budget constraints. As of July 1, however, Iowa has been advertising that it wants to fill 12 court reporter positions across the state. “Iowa reporters have worked hard at being team players within the judicial branch. Our Supreme Court officials, as well as many district associate, and juvenile judges, and the state bar, support and value steno reporters. The addition of 12 new positions is proof of that,” says Sarah Hyatt, RPR, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, current president of the Iowa Court Reporters Association. “And when Iowa’s budget was finally able to more fully fund the courts, we were thrilled that the decision was made to hire additional qualified reporters.”

 

California and the wild west of court systems

California may no longer be the Wild West, but you wouldn’t know by looking at the state’s court system and both how and when transcripts and the official record are being created there.

Thanks to a concerted lobbying and legal effort led by groups such as the California Court Reporters Association, there is very little electronic recording in California county courts, and most of the ER is used for misdemeanors and traffic hearings.

But the success in keeping digital audio out hasn’t prevented some county governments in the state from laying off some — or in the case of Placer County, all — of its official court reporters. The result right now is that California has a little bit of everything. Placer County, for instance, has outsourced all its trial work to a single private court reporting firm after a bidding process.

Los Angeles County, like other California counties, has laid off a portion of its official reporters, largely in civil courts, forcing attorneys who want a record and a transcript to hire a private court reporter.

“Officials are definitely out in some counties,” says Kristi Garcia, a Fresno County official court reporter and current CCRA president. “Not in all counties but in some counties, they’ve taken reporters out of family law courts. But independent reporters can go in there, so that’s a win for court reporters. We’re just glad there’s a court reporter in the courtroom and not electronic recording.”

The reason for that victory was a lawsuit against California’s Administrative Office of the Courts for putting in electronic recording in courtrooms when it didn’t have the funding to do so from the state legislature, a case that went all the way to the California Supreme Court. Garcia notes that in misdemeanor courts, there is some electronic recording, but all felonies still must be reported by a court reporter. “For civil trials, they all bring in their own,” she says, adding that for probate and for family law, there may not be either digital audio or a live court reporter. “Sometimes there’s no record at all because there is no reporter and they’re not recording. So when you’re fighting for your kid in family court, there’s going to be no record.”

The lack of certainty about whether a trial will have a record is triggering some angst in the state’s legal community, says Sandy Bunch VanderPol, RMR, CRR, an independent reporter in Lotus, Calif. “A lot of the attorneys are getting frustrated because they would rather have something in there, but they don’t want to pay to have a court reporter,” says VanderPol.

But for VanderPol, whose resume includes stints as CCRA president as well as being both a firm owner and independent reporter, all these changes in how trials are reported recently gave her the opportunity to do something once considered rare for a private independent reporter: She handled a case for a client from start to finish, beginning with the depositions and running all the way through the trial.

She’s not alone. “I have a very good client base for depositions and that’s what I would prefer to do, but there are a lot of reporters that are now doing trials along with depositions,” VanderPol says. While no one will admit it for attribution, the presence of independent reporters in trials doing a job that used be handled by an official has, on occasion, generated some tension, though not recently. “When the client of the depo reporter asks them to come in and do the trial, and the officials that were in that courthouse see that, they’ve became upset, so it was a big deal,” says one reporter who requested anonymity to speak freely about this topic. “Now everyone can see the big picture and realize they shouldn’t be mad at their own profession; we should be mad at the people laying us off.”

Notably, the layoffs that have impacted California officials hasn’t really changed the demand for good trial reporting. “It’s not that there’s less need for reporters in courtrooms,” VanderPol says. “It’s just that we’re doing our jobs differently because now you have to get hired by a litigant rather than being on salary by the court.” But it is starting to create some downward price pressure as exofficials compete with both firms and independent reporters for trial work. “These days you’ve got to cut a lot of deals to get any business,” says one source. The other big change is that ex-official reporters are now beginning to think and act like small businesspeople rather than California government employees.

 

Protect your computer

Protect Your Computer

Antivirus programs can protect your computer,
but which one is best for you?

While it is important to protect your computer from viruses, malware, and spyware, the wrong antivirus software can slow down your computer or interfere with your ability to realtime or caption. How can you balance protecting your computer with great computer performance?

First things first

Members of the Technology Evaluation Committee took up this question. All of them agreed that your first source for information should be your software vendor. To assist you in figuring out what antivirus software to put on your system, we asked the major CAT software companies what works best with their programs (see chart below).

Several of the vendors also noted that the settings for the program make a difference. So, if the antivirus program is slowing down your computer, one of the first things you should do is check the settings to see if it can make your CAT program an exception. Further information may be available through your software vendor.

Free antivirus software

Most of the Technology Evaluation Committee members use one of the major free programs, with several people mentioning AVG, Microsoft Security Essentials, and ESET NOD32 (see chart for additional notes). However, a few of the committee members take a belt-and-suspenders approach to antivirus protection and run more than one program. For instance, G. Allen Sonntag, RDR, CRR, of Oro Valley, Ariz., runs both Microsoft Security Essentials and AVG on his system. “I let Win 7 run Microsoft Security Essentials, which is free and part of the OS. I use AVG Free version, and I’ve never had a virus problem in the past few years, certainly since working on Win 7,” says Sonntag.

Pay for protection

“I use the less intrusive Microsoft Security Essentials software and augmented it with a program called malwarebytes, which is an anti-malware program. I chose to augment with the malwarebytes after lots of research and reading recommendations from some leading computer magazines. The great thing about using this combination is that once you purchase the Pro version of malwarebytes, it gives you a lifetime license for all future updates for it, no yearly fee, and currently that’s $24.95. That means you have the free protection from Microsoft, augmented by a one-time cost for the malware program,” says Sue Terry, RPR, CRR, of Springfield, Ohio.

And while some antivirus programs are just a free download away, Terry isn’t the only one to put money in to keep her computer clean.

Kim Neeson, RPR, CRR, CBC, CCP, of Toronto, Ontario, and Christine Phipps, RPR, of West Palm Beach, Fla., chose Norton 360 Premier 2013. Phipps says that Norton has a few additional advantages, such as storing passwords for browsers and offering 25 gigs of free online storage.

Nancy Bistany, RPR, of Chicago, Ill., uses prevx.com. “I purchased it several years ago at the recommendation of one of the executives at Stenograph, and I have never had an issue with it interfering with my hardware/software interface, especially in a realtime writing environment,” she says.

Robin Nodland, RDR, CRR, of Portland, Ore., says that her company uses Trend Micro Worry Free Business Services, an outside service that provides a hosted antivirus solution for smalland medium-sized business. While this option isn’t for everyone, Nodland notes that it comes with a lot of extras:

  • Web-based administration
  • Centralized control and settings
  • Keyword filtering
  • Attachment filtering blocking
  • Alerts via email
  • Outbreak defense
  • Proactive Web filtering to block known (triple verified) bad websites
  • Minimal impact on the local system

Choose your browser

A few people mention that choosing browsers carefully plays a role in protecting computers from viruses. Sonntag also mentions, “I use Chrome for my browser, and I find its sandboxing technology to be great in protecting me from bad stuff.”

Others find using a less well-known browser, such as Safari or Firefox, protects them from attack, because viruses are usually built to attack the most well-known program.

Christine Phipps, RPR, of West Palm Beach, Fla., who uses Firefox as her browser, says, “Downloads from the Internet go into a ‘Downloads’ folder first. All downloads are then checked by [my antivirus program] Norton, which will give me a ‘Safe to proceed’ message before continuing on with the installation process.”

One final note about antivirus software from the group is to remember to run updates for the program — whichever one you choose. Most of the companies update the list frequently as new viruses are developed or old viruses try new tactics. As Sandy VanderPol, RMR, CRR, of Lotus, Calif., says, “I’ve never had a virus, but I’m careful to have [the program] on auto update and run it.

VENDOR RECOMMENDATIONS AND SETTINGS

What the CAT software companies recommend

Software (company) Recommended antivirus program Additional comments Cost
Case CATalyst
(Stenograph)
Any antivirus software If errors occur, check your computer settings per “Avoid ‘CAT’astrophe
with your antivirus.”
Varies
digitalCAT
(Stenovations)
Microsoft Security Essentials (microsoft.com) and Avast (avast.com) According to the company, the antivirus programs that seem to conflict with digitalCAT are Norton,
McAfee, and Trend.
Both recommended programs are free.
Eclipse
(Advantage Software)
Almost all antivirus software works with Eclipse, but the company recommends Microsoft Security Essentials (microsoft.com). New viruses mean that antivirus software companies are always updating their programs, so updating their programs, so conflicts between antivirus software and CAT software can occur unexpectedly. For that reason, what works today may not work tomorrow. Advantage recommends Security Essentials because “no one is more motivated than Microsoft to quickly identify and resolve potential threats.” Free
Winner
(ProCAT)
AVG (avg.com) The company suggests users to make Winner an exception within AVG. Free


ANTIVIRUS SOFTWARE CHOICES

Antivirus Program Website User comments Cost
AVG Antivirus FREE 2013 avg.com Lisa Knight, RMR, CRR, says, “I have never had an issue with it interfering with my realtime or other important aspects of my job.” Free
ESET NOD32 eset.com Jim Woitalla, RDR, CRI, says, “I like that it’s not a resource hog, doesn’t interfere with realtime, and provides excellent protection while surfing the net and filtering email.” Free
Microsoft Security Essentials Go to Microsoft.com, type in ‘Security Essentials,’ and find the download page for the free download. G. Allen Sonntag, RDR, CRR, says, “It’s easy on the CPU and usage cycles.” Free
Norton 360
Premier 2013
Norton.com Kim Neeson, RPR, CRR, CBC, CCP, says, “Norton was recommended by my computer technician, and I have not had any issues with it interfering with any of my court reporting work.” One year of protection for up to three personal computers is $59.99.
Prevx prevx.com Nancy Bistany, RPR, “I have never had an issue with it interfering with my hardware/software interface, especially in a realtime writing environment.” The cost varies, but it runs approximately $30 for a year.
Trend Micro Worry Business Services trendmicro.com Robin Nodland, RDR, CRR, says, “As a company, we no longer have to update software or definitions; it’s all handled  automatically and unnoticed by the user. “ About $28 per computer per year, according to Nodland.

 

Avoid “cat”astrophe with your antivirus

By James Kuta

For the vast majority of us, the antivirus software we use was already installed on the computer we purchased. Fortunately, Case CATalyst is compatible with all major antivirus software you might be aware of and a few you may not. Unfortunately, every antivirus, on occasion, interferes with the normal operation of software you want to use. The good news is a few simple setting changes can keep Case CATalyst from falling victim to well-intentioned yet overly protective antivirus software.

Adding an exception

Virtually all antivirus software gives you the option of excluding a program from its realtime scanning. This is commonly called “adding an exception.” The goal of the realtime scanner is to monitor the creation and modification of files and then block any perceived threats. By excluding Case CATalyst from realtime scanning, you lessen the likelihood of the antivirus interfering with the normal creation and modification of your jobs.

Each antivirus has its own steps for adding an exception and an Internet search or visiting your antivirus’ website will give you the steps needed. If your antivirus allows you to exclude a folder from realtime scanning, exclude the C:\CAT4 folder. CAT4 is the default Case CATalyst installation folder. If you installed to a different directory, exclude that directory instead. If your antivirus only allows for files to be excluded, exclude the CaseCATalyst.exe; it will be located inside of the Case CATalyst installation folder.

Scheduling an automatic full scan

In addition to realtime scanning, antivirus software performs what is commonly called a full scan. A full scan can take a long time to complete and uses significant computer resources, the same resources Case CATalyst needs. The goal of a full scan is to identify a threat anywhere on your computer. Typically, a full scan will start automatically at a scheduled time daily or weekly. You don’t want this scheduled time to be when you need those computer resources for Case CATalyst.

Again, each antivirus has its own steps for enabling, disabling, and scheduling an automatic full scan. What’s important is that you configure your antivirus to run the full scan on a day or at a time when you do not expect to be using Case CATalyst.

James Kuta is Stenograph’s product manager.

Five quick and easy ways to earn CEUs

1309_CEUs
On September 30, NCRA’s 2013 education cycle will come to an end. NCRA members with cycles ending in 2013 have a number of quick and easy ways to earn CEUs in the time remaining. Here are five ways you can get CEUs that are relatively quick and painless.

1. Play the game. In 2012, NCRA created a learning game called Courting Disaster that offers members a fun professional development opportunity based on the challenges reporters face every day. Since its launch, more than 2,000 people have logged in to the game and considered the various scenarios presented in the interactive narrative. Players are presented with a number of quests, or scenarios, and are asked to choose how to best proceed. With each decision, players must balance their desire to serve their clients well while maintaining, according to the NCRA Code, “their profession at the highest level.”

The game is free to play. To get started with “Courting Disaster,” simply go to www.ncra.org/CourtingDisaster and start playing along. You can play as many times as you like. During each gaming session, you’ll be presented with six of 12 possible quests. The quests appear randomly, so every time you play, you’ll have a chance to see new content and have a unique experience. To earn CEUs after finishing the game, complete an e-seminar that examines the issues encountered in the game in more detail. A screen at the end of the game will direct you to the webinar.

2. Catch up with NCRA’s distance learning offerings. NCRA offers more than 100 on-demand e-seminars and live webinars on topics ranging from ethics and grammar to realtime and administrative law. Both formats give you access to the video and downloadable handout materials from highly regarded speakers in the court reporting-related fields. With e-seminars, the attendee can start, pause, and stop the e-seminar on demand. With webinars, attendees can ask questions of the speaker. In addition, attendees have up to 30 days to finish viewing the program. Explore the topics in NCRA’s Distance Learning Library at ncra.inreachce.com/.

3. Prepare for an emergency. NCRA offers CEUs to members who take first aid or emergency preparedness classes. A great place to start is with the Red Cross (redcross.org) or the American Heart Association (heart.org). The first-aid classes put on by these two organizations are accepted by NCRA for CEUs, as is the Red Cross’s emergency preparedness class. CPR classes given by other organizations, such as at a hospital or fire station, are generally accepted but should be cleared first through NCRA’s continuing education department (contact sbryant@ncra.org if you need further information). Please note that NCRA limits these classes to 1.2 CEUs (12 hours of credit) per cycle.

4. Go through your records. See if there are any educational opportunities that weren’t submitted or were somehow overlooked. Classes should be closely related to court reporting and not paid for by your employer. If the event was held in the past three years, it may be worth the time to see if it might be CEU-worthy. In addition, get more information on NCRA’s website (at www.ncra.org/Certifications) to see if any other qualifying experience, such as board or committee experience, pro bono services, or the transcription of Veterans History Project tapes, may not have been credited on the CEU transcript.

5. Check the calendar. Many state and local court reporting associations offer CEUs during their annual conventions in September, and this year is no exception. Check the JCR calendar of upcoming events to see if a live event will be held near you. Or visit a more complete, interactive calendar on NCRA’s website (www.ncra.org/calendar). State associations, members, and court reporting related organizations post details about their events at no charge.

The last page: All in a day’s work

WHY ME?

A 21-year-old deponent had this exchange. During her answer, she looked around the room at each of us. She said it as she ended up looking at me.

A. But there are different levels for each — Wayne State is really diverse. We have a lot of — no offense to nobody — but older people.

Q. Like how old is old?

MR. DOE: I’m glad she pointed at the court reporter and not me.

Elsa Jorgensen
Birmingham, Mich.

TMI

Q. Do you update your Facebook?

A. From time to time. I’m not consistent with it. I’m not one of the people who tells you I’m going to the bathroom every five minutes and everything.

MR. JONES: Thank God for that, sir.

MR. SMITH: I agree.

Therese Casterline, RMR, CRR
The Colony, Texas

WHEN YOU ASSUME …

Q. What other kind of surgeries?

A. I had a breast implant.

Q. Augmentation?

A. Augmentation.

Q. When was that?

A. That was seven years ago.

Q. Just one?

A. Both.

Q. That’s not what I meant, but —

A. Oh, just one time. Sorry.

Q. I assumed you got both. (Laughter).

Leo Mankiewicz, RMR, CRR
Phoenix, Ariz.

SILLY QUESTIONS

Q. Let me ask you a few things about your family life if I could. You’re married to your wife, correct?

A. Most people are.

Q. Obviously.

Barbara Prindle, RPR
Brunswick, Ga.

AGREED

Q. But you were married?

A. We were married

Q. Okay.

A. It’s a complicated thing.

Q. Yeah, it always is.

Yvonne Fenner, RPR
Sacramento, Calif.

MOBILE HOME MOVING

Q. And that would happen if somebody decided to pick up their home and go elsewhere?

A. And they can do that.

Q. That is within their rights.

A. Okay.

Q. They would have to be real strong, though, to pick it up and carry it, wouldn’t they?

A. Well, they would have to hire a contractor.  I mean, you’re talking physical? No, I never took it that way.

Q. I know that.

A. Okay. I’m sorry.

Q. I was just playing with you.

Renee L. Stacy, RPR, CRR
Salt Lake City, Utah

FIRST, TAKE ALL THE LAWYERS …

Q. Was it a lawyer or a person?

A. It was a person.

Susan L. Beard, RPR
Beaumont, Texas

VERIFY EVERYTHING

Q. You’re wearing a shirt with a logo on it, and that says, “SSYC Preschool.” What’s that?

A. It’s Second Street Youth Center. It’s a preschool, and it has an aftercare program.

Q. Where is Second Street located?

A. In Plainfield.

Q. Is it on Second Street?

A. Yes. South Second Street.

Denese Cortellino
North Arlington, N.J.

SPELLING BEE

Q. Did you attend college?

A. I went to The Salon Professional Academy for a short time and didn’t finish.

Q. The what professional academy?

A. The Salon Professional Academy.

Q. How do you spell that?

A. S-a-l-o-n, Professional, P-r-o-f-f-e-s-i-o-n-a- l-l-y, Academy, A-c-a-d-e-m-y.

Amy Doman, RPR, CRR
Carmel, Ind.

THAT’S THE TRUTH

Q. Did he tell you that he crosses — he tries to cross when there are no trains coming?

A. No, he didn’t mention that.

Q. It’s part of your job to follow up on statements, is it not?

A. Well, frankly, I would try to cross when there were no trains coming, too.

Q. Good idea.

THE COURT: The Court takes judicial notice of that.

Wendy Shultz
Minneapolis, Minn.

DOUBLE THE TROUBLE

Q. How old are your grandchildren?

A. Granddaughter, five. I have twin boys, two.

Q. Twin grandsons?

A. Yes.

Q. Age two?

A. Yes, both of them.

Michele L. Fontaine, RPR
Leicester, Mass.

LONG-WINDED

(After a three-page answer by a neuropsychologist):

Q: I’m sure there’s some periods in there. I’ll let the court reporter choose them.

Cassy Russell, RPR, CRR, CCP
Tulsa, Okla.

If you’d like to contribute, please send your funny transcript excerpts to NCRA Publications Manager Austin Yursik at ayursik@ncra.org.

In memoriam: Thomas Hughes

Thomas HughesOn April 18, NCRA and the court reporting profession lost a goodwill ambassador and reporter role model when Thomas Hughes, age 58, lost his courageous battle with cancer.

After graduation from high school in Anderson, S.C., Thomas moved to Jacksonville, Fla., where he attended and graduated from the Stenotype Institute of Jacksonville Beach. He joined NCRA and attained his RPR in 1978. Thereafter, he achieved his RMR, RDR, and, in 1993 and with great consternation, his CRR, which was, in my opinion, his most celebrated personal achievement. Reporting was his true passion.

In 1984 Thomas moved to Fort Lauderdale, where I met him, and began his reporting career in South Florida. He became involved in the Florida Court Reporters Association, where he served as Southern Director, Secretary, Vice-President, President-Elect and President (2007- 2008). In 2007 he launched the FCRA Realtime Speed Contest. He continued to dictate and score the test. It is still in existence today and a highlight at FCRA annual conventions.

Thomas was a past member of the NCRA Speed Contest Committee, Realtime Contest Committee, and Testing Verification Committee. He served as the Official Reporter for the 1997 NCRA Convention in Orlando. He also served as Chief Examiner for the RPR, RMR, and CRR examinations. But one of his most renowned attributes was mentoring. Countless reporters throughout the country sought his advice and counseling, and he was always genuinely happy to accommodate.

Thomas loved boating and water sports. As a child, he water-skied on the lakes of South Carolina, an activity he mastered to the point of winning several national awards. Later in life, his favorite hobby was cooking (and eating) gourmet food. He had several shelves in his kitchen that were dedicated to cookbooks. He and his partner of 33 years, James Thurman, loved their beautiful home. Nothing made him happier than entertaining their good friends there and playing his grand piano, which he loved dearly.

For those of you who are fortunate enough to have heard Thomas play the piano at past NCRA conferences, keep in mind, he never had a piano lesson and he could not read a single note of music. He played everything by ear. If there was a particular song that appealed to him, he would simply practice it until he perfected it. Although he often acted coy when asked to play, he relished the opportunity.

There was nothing in the world, though, that meant more to Thomas than his beloved pets. He owned many throughout his lifetime. They brought him immeasurable pleasure, especially during his illness.

Thomas will be remembered, most certainly, for being a real character with a true zest for life. He was funny, and he was brimming with Southern charm. He was a wonderful friend and mentor to many. I miss you, dear friend…write on!

Teresa F. Durando, RPR
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

From the trainers: Ready, begin

Last week, while attending a state court reporting convention, I was speaking with a group of reporters about taking certification exams and what aspect of the exams they found most challenging. By far, the most common response was “Ready, begin.” One reporter said, “When I hear that phrase, I tense up and forget to breathe.” She became noticeably agitated just talking about it!

This is not uncommon. In fact, most students and working reporters have the same reaction when hearing the phrase, “Ready, begin.” We all know what follows that phrase is the exam itself, so those two words can generate negative feelings, disruptive thoughts, and test anxiety. So, what do we do about it? What can we do to improve our reaction to that dreaded phrase, build our confidence, and propel ourselves forward on a positive, test-passing path?

There’s plenty of literature available on test anxiety — just Google it and you’ll see what I mean — but most of it relates specifically to educational assessments, not skill-based assessments like speed tests and certification exams. That doesn’t mean that the advice isn’t useful; we just need to tweak it a bit to more appropriately apply to our needs.

Of course, there’s the usual list of to-dos on test day:

  • Get a good night’s sleep the night before.
  • Arrive at the test site early.
  • Eat a healthy breakfast.
  • Limit your intake of caffeine.
  • Exercise, if possible, prior to the test.

But, let’s face it, those suggestions don’t address the “Ready, begin” problem. We need to get beyond that phrase well before test day in order to pass certification tests without giving ourselves a stroke in the process. Here are some simple, yet effective, ways to achieve that:

  • Focus on “Ready, begin.” If the material you are preparing with does not include that phrase at the beginning of every exercise, repeat it to yourself. If “Ready, begin” is included in the practice material, repeat something positive to yourself every time you hear it.
  • Keep your positive statement short and sweet: “Yes” or “I’m ready!” or “I rock.”
  • Remember, the test begins approximately three seconds after “Ready, begin,” so you don’t have time for a full paragraph of affirmation!

Apply “Ready, begin” and positive affirmation to your daily routines. When you walk into the courthouse, a deposition or a CART job, or before beginning a captioning session, repeat “Ready, begin” and your positive response.

There are two things necessary to be a successful reporter (official, freelance, CART provider, or captioner) and passing tests (whether speed tests in school or certification exams), and those are writing skills and confidence. As Marcus Garvey once said, “With confidence, you have won before you have started.”

Ready, begin . . .

Personal computing: VPNs: When sniffing your data is rude

As with much in life, much about security on the Internet depends on how much risk you’re willing to take, if you know. If you don’t know, much depends on how lucky you are.

Should you sit back and take your chances? “Sniffers” can make this risky, but a “virtual private network,” or VPN, service can put the odds back in your favor.

With Internet security in general, the

idea is to prevent hackers from finding ways into your computer, where they can capture your data, access your bank account or credit card, or take over your computer and use it to send out spam or take over the computers of others.

Many procedures are set up to protect you by default. Today’s computer operating systems come protected with their own firewall and antivirus software, though as usual better software can be had elsewhere through third-party vendors such as Symantec and Trend Micro.

Today’s best websites are protected through “Secure Sockets Layer,” or SSL, which encrypts information to or from the site and your computer or other device. Sites protected this way have Internet addresses beginning with “https” instead of “http.”

Passwords are required for many sites, and you can further your own protection by picking difficult-to-crack passwords that consist of a combination of at least eight letters, numbers, and special characters, with 10 or 12 being even better.

Banking and other websites holding sensitive data of yours typically require or give you the choice of two-factor authentication, such as asking you for the answers to selected questions you’ve previously given or texting to your cell phone a second temporary code or password when you try to log in.

Making sure you keep your operating system and software updated is also important in preventing hackers from finding cracks that let them find their way into your system.

In the office or at home, if you’re using a router, make sure it’s secured. You should have had to type in a security key, a type of password, to access it initially. The security key is often written on the outside of the router.

When you’re on the road, you should take special precautions. The free or lowcost Wi-Fi provided by many hotels, airports, libraries, bookstores, and coffee shops can be a great convenience. But not all such Wi-Fi providers provide a secure connection.

Secure connections require you to type in a security key or password provided to you by the facility. The best Wi-Fi security today is WPA2, with the earlier WPA a step behind. WEP is even less secure. And many facilities providing free Wi-Fi provide only unsecured connections.

The problem is packet analyzers or sniffers. This software serves legitimate purposes such as letting a company analyze its network traffic to best use its bandwidth or to monitor intrusion attempts. But the same software can be used by a would-be intruder sitting two seats down from you in the coffee shop. Such programs include Firesheep and Reaver.

At a Barnes & Noble bookstore once, I thought the connection was secure. But someone had captured my email address, password, and the email addresses of people I emailed. The next day my email recipients got an email impersonating me and making me sound foolish, a sophomoric joke probably by someone around the age of a college sophomore. It could have been worse.

Now I use a VPN service. Three highly recommended VPN services, getting good reviews in the computer press and anecdotally from fellow users, are Hotspot Shield (www.anchorfree.com), WiTopia (www. witopia.net), and Private WiFi (www. privatewifi.com).

In some cases a free, limited VPN version exists. When you’re protecting yourself in this way, it probably makes sense if possible to spring for the beefed-up pay version. You simply download and install the software before you use a public Wi-Fi hotspot. You can keep the software running all the time, or you can disable it temporarily when you’re back to using a secure business or home connection.

Other benefits of VPNs are anonymous browsing and access to content in foreign countries that may be be restricted to U.S. users.

VPNs use authentication and encryption to provide virtual private tunnels for your data through the public Internet. In some cases, with VPN vendors that have lots of servers, your Internet speeds actually increase. In other cases speeds can slow down slightly or remain about the same.

What it comes down to is: How sensitive is your data? How much risk are you willing to take with it?

Review: TechCon: What is it all about?

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TechCon brings the brightest and most knowledgeable to the remote and curious freelance reporter. So much information bombards us every day, much of which is technical in nature. For the freelance court reporter who is on his or her own most of the time, the choices and decisions can be daunting. There are options coming at you from state and national court reporting associations, the Internet, and from fellow reporters. I have been freelance court reporting since 1980, always proud of this profession and striving to be the best I can. The first time I saw the TechCon conference advertised, I vowed to attend as soon as I could arrange it, and Arizona turned out to be the perfect choice.

Wow, what a great experience! From the charming, informative, and fascinating stories of Sue Terry, RPR, CRR, and Judy Werlinger, RMR, CRR, CMRS, regarding their adventures in realtime, to the nuts and bolts technology brainbusters of Daniel Bistany, TechCon was everything I had hoped for and more. I solidified my choices on some of the gadgets and programs I use, but, more importantly, I zeroed in on what routers, hotspots, websites, and apps, to mention a few, were the best out there for my particular applications. For those of us who are writing realtime, the technology is changing all the time and can be hard to keep up with. This conference was invaluable with having all of these experts in one place. They were extremely helpful with any questions we had and also with informative recommendations.

I would recommend this conference to all reporters and want to thank the presenters and vendors for the pride and confidence they have in this profession and for sharing their knowledge and wisdom with not only each other, but with us remote reporters who are many times on our own.

Sometimes when we as reporters are assessing how to obtain our CEU points, it is very tempting to take advantage of the many cheap online options. I would encourage all my colleagues to take into consideration the priceless nature of networking with fellow reporters; not just in the traditional sense of developing clients, but creating friendships and troubleshooting issues that plague us from time to time. What I am always struck by when attending these in-person conferences is the generosity of my profession and willingness to always lend a helping hand.

Secrets of success – Joyce and Bob Zaro: Have desire to learn and be a team player

Joyce K. Zaro, RPR, and Bob A. Zaro, RPR, are owners of Zaro+Zaro Realtime Reporting, LLC, and they live in Tigard, Ore., a town nine miles southwest of downtown Portland. Bob and Joyce have worked together in every aspect of reporting. As official reporters in state court for 23 years, they sometimes shared trials, proofread for each other, and even shared an antique double-sided desk in their courthouse office. In 2002, when the state’s layoff of officials began, they jumped into the deposition world, with Bob working as an employee for an established reporting firm and Joyce working as an overflow deposition reporter for multiple firms, a CART reporter, and a broadcast captioner. Prior to working together, the two met at Bryan College in Los Angeles, Calif., where they completed their education in 1979.

What made you decide to start your business?

Bob: Ten years ago, owning a business was not at all in our long-range plan. We both were very happy in this new experience of working outside the courtroom, which gave us quite a renewed enthusiasm for reporting. It was refreshing to have our skill and experience appreciated after fighting so long to try to convince the court administration that we realtime reporters, an integral part of the court’s team, were more efficient and useful than electronic recording, despite the impending budget cuts.

Joyce: A great benefit of my being an overflow deposition reporter was getting to know and work with many reporters, from one-reporter firms to the large national companies, all of them run with their own style. I learned a great deal during those first five years A.C. — after the courthouse, as we now call it. I know now those experiences prepared me for what was in store next. In 2003, I was blessed to connect with a wonderful, respected reporter in Portland, and I become a regular sub for her. She had built her business over the past 20 years by giving personal, friendly service and providing an excellent product. The clients she attracted were similar in personality, and it was a delight to report for them. When she decided to retire in 2008, I was presented the amazing opportunity to take over her business.

As business owners, what have been the challenges? The rewards?

Joyce: Since Bob was still employed with the other firm, my first challenge was just hoping I could continue my mentor’s previous success. The learning curve was steep as I navigated scheduling, invoicing, and paying reporters who were now subbing for me, and general organization of the business. Bob finally joined me, and we started working together again, which is the biggest reward!

Bob: Working together again is indeed the best reward. It has also been rewarding to build our team with like-minded reporters and production help so we can provide the best service possible. One big challenge we face daily is trying to balance work and everyday life. Because we are so used to working on transcripts at all hours of the day and night, weekends, and holidays, there is not a nonreporter spouse who says, “Okay. Enough for now. Let’s go do something else.”

How important is networking to building a business and becoming successful? Can you provide some examples of good networking that could help court reporters?

Bob: Networking to find fellow reporters to help you is a crucial part of building your business. We know this because Joyce and I benefitted from it when we left the courthouse. If we hadn’t participated in our state association as official reporters, we would have missed out on meeting and forming great relationships with the deposition reporters in our state, who graciously helped us make a smooth transition out of court.

Joyce: Unless you happen to arrive at the same deposition, freelance reporters generally don’t see each other outside of state or national association conferences. As a result, relationships formed while we network and learn and share are so important, such as when we need help covering a job, an answer to a procedural question, or if a student needs mentoring. Our common goal is to provide excellent service to the attorneys, and if we can work together to accomplish that, it helps everyone’s business succeed.

How important are credentials and continued education in becoming successful?

Bob: Keeping current with technology is the cornerstone of being a successful reporter. We started by typing transcripts on onion skin paper with carbon paper for copies. We now can wirelessly transmit our transcripts to an attorney’s iPad. Without continuing education to keep us informed of new developments and helping us implement them, we would have been left behind. Learning never ends with this job, and the challenge keeps it interesting.

Joyce: Absolutely. And, like Bob said, the interesting challenge is what has kept me taking tests. I do not enjoy it, like some, but the personal realtime challenge I gave myself was enough to keep me going. I believe it makes a big difference when another reporter or a scheduling paralegal can see that you have met standard requirements for competency. Even though Oregon is not a state with mandatory certification, we encourage all new reporters to keep taking those tests until they pass them.

What few adjectives would you use to describe a successful court reporter?

Joyce: Someone with keen attention to detail, who is self-disciplined and motivated, with a desire to be a team player.

Bob: Possess good common sense; be professional, yet friendly; have a desire to learn; believe in service before self.

Any final comments on getting where you are today?

We will be forever grateful to Nancy Patterson and our dedicated teachers who poured their experience and knowledge into us to prepare us so well.

 Do you want to nominate someone for the “Secrets of Success” series? Send your pick into the JCR’s Writer/Editor, Linda Smolkin, at lsmolkin@ncra.org.

Case study: Orleans Technical’s internship course

The Court Reporting Internship course at Orleans Technical Institute in Philadelphia, Pa., is one of the school’s greatest program accomplishments. The Court Reporting Internship course prepares students to fill the demand for official courtroom and freelance reporters, broadcast captioners, and CART reporters.

The course also places students on externship sites, provides mentoring, and provides in-class instruction.

The school has onsite faculty and support staff dedicated to providing its interns with one-on-one career advice and job search assistance. In addition, the school’s employment specialist networks with employers from agency owners to local court systems, and that specialist builds relationships in order to help graduates find employment opportunities. Over the past five years, Orleans has maintained a 99 percent job placement rate.

Internship program overview

Internship is the capstone component of the court reporting program. It provides training and education in occupational settings both on-site as a classroom and mentorship experience and off-site as a court experience and a freelance experience.

The interns are introduced to four learning environments: classroom instruction, mentorship, court experience, and freelance experience. The intern receives educational credit upon completion of the internship along with the opportunity for a continued work site assignment leading to future employment. The internship component is a requirement for graduation, and it must be completed within one term.

The flow of all internship and externship activities is regulated by the instructional supervisor, the mentorship supervisor, and the internship coordinator. The internship class is set up for 60 hours of classroom time. The externship experience is set up for 90 hours over a 15-week period.

The court reporting curriculum pairs skill and speedbuilding on realtime steno equipment with additional courses in medical terminology, legal terminology, and court procedures. During the RPR class, students are given the opportunity to train for and receive their notary certification.

The court reporting program recently implemented the Realtime Coach online learning system as part of its curriculum. This program has helped all of its students increase speed and accuracy through structured practice sessions. The students develop computer-compatible, realtime machine shorthand skills of up to 225 words per minute, and they learn to transcribe and edit their own shorthand notes using CAT software.

An internship manual is available for the interns to use throughout the duration of their internship. This manual provides a comprehensive overview of the program and expectations along with the required forms needed for completion of the program.

The internship/classroom phase

The court reporting internship course has evolved into one of the most exciting experiences that the school’s students have encountered. In this course, students receive the final phase of court reporting instruction, which prepares them to successfully transition to the world of work. At this juncture, the students receive all of the necessary finishing tools needed to enable them to fill the demand for official courtroom and freelance reporters, broadcast captioners, and CART reporters. Under the guidance of the internship coordinator, the intern is expected to complete internship requirements during one semester.

Onsite: As a classroom and mentorship experience, the interns meet once a week with an instructional supervisor and a mentorship supervisor. The instructional supervisor meets one-on-one with the interns to review and analyze all transcripts and provide individualized feedback to enhance the professionalism of each student’s work.

The mentorship phase

The mentorship supervisor meets weekly with the interns to discuss their experiences and to assist in helping the interns make necessary adjustments as they plan for the other phases of their internships. The mentorship is there to provide students with support and clarity on issues that develop from externship experiences.

The captioning lab

Plans began three years ago to develop an internship component that would allow the students to gain experiences that would take them out of the classroom and into the actual worlds of court reporting, CART, and captioning. Sitting in the classroom and discussing different career tracks did not seem to be effective or productive. School officials and faculty felt that students should be provided with an atmosphere where they could experience the various career paths themselves. This would greatly contribute to their knowledge and their ability to make decisions about their futures.

The most exciting thing that has happened to the Orleans Technical Institute Court Reporting Internship is the implementation of a new captioning lab. The staff brainstormed and came up with the idea that if the upper-level students were exposed to the latest up-to-date technology and software prior to their graduation, it would help them become more confident and secure in the knowledge they obtained. The staff wanted to make all current steno technology and software possibilities available and accessible to them. Thus, the staff created a laboratory where students were allowed to work, utilizing all of the tools and equipment that the school was able to purchase, including up-to-date computers, monitors, speakers, and software. In the lab, the instructor and students are able to review video reenactments for classroom discussion and observation. Each computer is equipped with live and simulated captioning software. Different versions of the latest CAT software have also been installed. This provides an opportunity for the higher-level students to explore different versions before making a decision regarding the professional software they will need to purchase later on. They are exposed to as much professional equipment as possible in the lab, including Eclipse, Case CATalyst, and Stenovations. The lab is also equipped with live and simulated captioning software on each computer.

The externship phase

The internship coordinator is responsible for regulating all on-site and off-site internship activities. The interns must adhere to the established timelines, guidelines, rules, and regulations set by the internship coordinator for the duration of the externship period. All externship orientation and training is conducted by the school’s employment specialist or sponsor, who makes contact with NCRA or Pennsylvania Court Reporters Association members who are affiliated with court reporting agencies. The court reporting agency is informed of the requirements and expectations of the school’s externship program. Once the contact is initiated and solidified, the agency is approved by telephone or by mail and is asked to sign an externship site agreement, which provides written instructions for the students’ externship activities. The employment specialist/sponsor reviews the externship site agreement via telephone with the on-site supervisor. A packet of information is then sent to the on-site supervisor at the externship site to be signed and returned prior to the placement of students. Any other type of externship site training, follow-up pertaining to questions, daily logs, sponsor evaluations, oversight of students’ notes and transcripts, and so on, is the responsibility of the employment specialist/sponsor.

Each student arranges his or her out-of-school schedule individually with the sponsor to ensure that no conflicts exist in any program-related activities. The internship instructor and the mentorship instructor meet with each student once per week to discuss and review field experience and also to plan for the remainder of the student’s externship experience. In addition, a daily log sheet is completed and validated by the sponsor once a week. The sponsor agrees not to overburden the students with additional requirements over and above the school’s requirements because the students are still maintaining their speedbuilding and have academic responsibilities in addition to their externships. The interns are not allowed to work or earn pay while on externship.

The employment phase

The sponsor assigns actual court reporters to the interns, thus allowing them exposure to different types of procedures (i.e., arbitrations, workman’s compensation hearings, OSHA hearings, etc.). Upon completion of weekly assignments, the agency’s court reporter reviews the intern’s transcripts and renders an evaluation of the assignment on the daily log sheets. All evaluations are based on current industry standards as deemed by the on-site agency. Once the evaluations are received by the school, the transcripts are graded by the instructor according to NCRA standards. This creates an equitable and fair measurement of demonstrated competency and skill attainment of the students.

Orleans Technical Institute has been an ongoing and consistent source of well trained graduates in the Philadelphia area since 1986, maintaining a 99 percent placement rate. Another sign of the success of this program is that the majority of the Institute’s graduates received their first job offers during their internship phase.

EMPLOYER FEEDBACK FOR ORLEANS INTERNSHIP PROGRAM

“For several years, I have had the pleasure of participating in the internship program for court reporting students at Orleans Technical Institute. I can state emphatically that the students who have reached the pinnacle of graduation have been well prepared in all facets of court reporting. Some of Orleans Technical Institute’s interns have been working for my firm, Kaplan, Leaman, and Wolfe Court Reporters, for several years and have performed their duties with professionalism and exhibited exemplary skills and knowledge.”

Gregg B. Wolfe, RPR
Kaplan, Leaman and Wolfe Court Reporters

“As an employer of many graduates from Orleans Technical Institute’s court reporting program, I would highly recommend it to any sincere candidates. The staff at Orleans is dedicated and professional. The program is approved by NCRA and offers the highest quality preparation for this lucrative career. Graduates are placed immediately with either freelance firms or the court system. I have seen many programs, but Orleans is the best.”

Dianne M. Varallo-Kushmir, CMRS
DiscoveryWorks Global