Giving back to the community: An interview with Deborah Weaver

Deborah Weaver receives recognition from the Missouri State Public Defender’s Office for Alaris Litigation’s Dollars for Depositions Program

Last June, NCRA member Deborah Weaver, a freelance court reporter and owner of Alaris Litigation Services in St. Louis, Mo., announced the launch of the Dollars for Depositions Program that pledged $21,000 in support of the Missouri Coalition for the Right to Counsel (MCRC). The MCRC is a nonprofit organization that facilitates and encourages law firms to volunteer their attorneys to represent clients of the Missouri public defender office to help ease the system’s difficult caseload. Through MCRC’s work, young attorneys are able to gain case and trial experiences.

What prompted you to become involved with the MCRC?

The Missouri Public Defender’s office is one of Alaris Litigation’s long-time clients, and we’ve seen firsthand their difficulties and frustrations of managing an overwhelming caseload. Because of tight funding and stretched resources, public defenders are currently only able to depose four percent of cases and take one percent of them to trial, meaning many individuals don’t receive the representation they need and deserve.

When the MCRC was proposed, Alaris was one of the first organizations to raise their hand and say, “Yes, we’ll help!” I was incredibly impressed by MCRC’s mission to bring swifter justice to the indigent defender as well as volunteer efforts of our partner law firms in providing pro bono counsel. Our philosophy at Alaris Litigation is all about providing needed support to our legal system, so this organization is a natural fit.

How long have you been involved in this work?

We’ve been involved with MCRC since the very beginning. We kicked off our involvement with the development of the Dollars for Depositions Program, which will provide up to $21,000 in funding for deposition services. This was something my team and I rallied behind, and we’re proud to be “charter partners” in leading this much-needed change in Missouri’s justice system.

What are some of the other community organizations you support?

For more than 23 years, Alaris has supported the Motion for Kids organization, which is a nonprofit that holds an annual holiday party for children in the foster care system or who have been severely impacted by the criminal justice system. Alaris distributes gifts for the kids at the Santa Stations and helps with visits from Santa.

We’ve supported the Let’s Start program for more than 12 years, packing lunches for children to take on the bus when they go to visit their mothers in prison. We also support the Center for Women in Transition, which provides resources and community support to women who have recently been released from prison.

What are the greatest benefits personally and professionally to being involved in community service activities?

I’m a firm believer in using our unique talents to serve the community in which we live. At Alaris, it’s our privilege to give back to the city that supports my company and my employees. On a personal level, it’s incredibly rewarding to bring hope, assistance, and joy to someone’s life.

Whether we’re helping a defendant finally go to trial with the representation they need, or simply giving kids a merry Christmas, we’re improving their lives for the better, and that’s truly a wonderful thing.

Why is giving back to the community important?

Volunteering is an integral part of me and always has been. I see it as “paying it forward,” using my talents to help make the world a better place one little effort at a time. It’s something everyone should do, no matter how large or small.

What advice would you give to someone who is seeking to become involved in community service activities?

Involvement isn’t something you just do. It’s something you are. You have to want to do it, not because you feel like you have to, but because it’s important to you as a person or an organization. Whether it’s helping break the cycle of incarceration or beautifying your neighborhood, find what inspires you and make it an active part of your life

 

The JCR Weekly will run a series of interviews featuring NCRA members who are giving back to their community in addition to an article in the April issue of the JCR.

Need a job? Court reporters in demand in Kansas, Missouri

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyKCTV Channel 5 in Olathe, Kan., aired a piece on Feb. 9 about need for court reporters in Kansas and Missouri.

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Missouri public defender’s office honors Alaris Litigation and CEO

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyAlaris Litigation, St. Louis, Mo., and its CEO, Debbie Weaver, have been honored by the Missouri State Public Defender’s Office for their Dollars for Depositions program. This initiative supports the efforts of the Missouri Coalition for the Right to Counsel through an ongoing contribution of in-kind deposition services.

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Court reporters help vets’ stories live on

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyOn Nov. 20, the Courier Tribune posted a photo with a caption from a Veterans History Project hosted by the Missouri Court Reporters Association.

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Veritext expands its deposition and litigation support services in St. Louis market

JCR logoVeritext has expanded its services in the St. Louis, Mo., market, according to a press release issued by the firm on May 2. The company also announced several new hires.

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Veteran court reporter takes Kansas City firm in a technology-focused direction

JCR logoIn a press release issued May 10, The Cooper Group, a litigation services firm headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., announced that it has taken an even more technology-focused direction.

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2017 Court Reporting & Captioning Week: It’s been a very busy week

Members of state court reporting associations across the country have spent the week celebrating their profession by participating in career fairs, visiting court reporting schools, hosting Veterans History Project events, and being quoted by local media, in honor of the 2017 Court Reporting & Captioning Week.

State associations and schools around the country promote the profession

For members of the Kansas Court Reporters Association (KCRA), however the week proved to be exceptionally busy. KCRA members kicked off the week by meeting with the state’s governor and securing an official proclamation recognizing 2017 Court Reporting & Captioning Week. In addition, representatives from the association were also invited to visit with members of the state’s Supreme Court where they also secured another official proclamation and pictures with the justices.

Left to right: Cayley Rodrigue, Kelley Morrison, Judge Michael Joyce, Brenda Highberger, Cindy Isaacsen, Judge Thomas Sutherland

Left to right: Cayley Rodrigue, Kelley Morrison, Judge Michael Joyce, Brenda Highberger, Cindy Isaacsen, Judge Thomas Sutherland

KCRA members marched onward throughout the week with other stops. They visited with members of the State Judiciary Committee where reporters provided a realtime presentation that left the attendees mesmerized. They also visited with members of the Johnson Board of County Commissioners complete with breakfast and another realtime demonstration that led to yet another official proclamation recognizing the week.

KCRA members wrapped up their celebration with a special write-a-thon at Neosho County Community College to help raise funds to aid students in its court reporting program.

“It’s been a very busy week,” said Cindy Isaacsen RPR, an official court reporter from Olathe and president of KCRA.

Kelley Morrison provides a demonstration

Kelley Morrison provides a demonstration

“I think I’ve said Court Reporting & Captioning Week about 1.75 million times. This week was just another way to spread the word about court reporting and captioning. It’s not just the young people we have to educate about what we do,” Isaacsen added. “My judge always says that I think court reporting is the best job out there … he’s right.”

2017 Court Reporting & Captioning Week also earned national recognition from U.S. Rep. Ron Kind (Wis.) in a floor speech before the U.S. House of Representatives on Feb. 14, and by state governors in Alabama, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Washington, and Wisconsin as well as by officials in Bexar County, Texas.

Presentation at Bryan University

Presentation at Bryan University

Other activities included visits with students at GateWay Community College in Phoenix and Bryan University in Tempe, both in Arizona. A number of members who visited with students were in the area attending the 2017 NCRA Firm Owners Executive Conference being held in Tucson. Students at both sites were able to ask the professionals questions and for advice. The panel discussion at Bryan University was open to both on-site and online students.

Members of the Missouri Court Reporters Association visited with state legislators in Jefferson City when they held their annual cookie drop. “We are always warmly received and welcomed, and this time was no different,” said Linda M. Dattilo, RPR, an official court reporter from Florissant, Mo., and the association’s executive director.

Students at GateWay Community College

Students at GateWay Community College

“They know when we’re coming, and we’ve had senators call our lobbyists and ask where the cookies are because they are waiting for them. At the end of the day, we’re always exhausted by all the running around, but satisfied, and hopefully they are too,” she added.

Members of the Wisconsin Court Reporters Association also promoted the court reporting and captioning professions at an open house held by North Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay.

Finding the spotlight: Court Reporting & Captioning Week in the news

As with all previous Court Reporting & Captioning Week celebrations, the efforts of NCRA members at the state and local levels were also successful in getting the word about the profession and its benefits as a career to media outlets in their areas. Among those:

NCRF Hard-of-Hearing Heroes oral histories project spotlighted

The Andrews Gazette (Easton, Md.) posted an article about the Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Veterans History Project event that NCRF and the Hearing Loss Association of America will host on Feb. 18 in Bethesda, Md., as part of NCRA’s 2017 Court Reporting & Captioning Week.

DMACC hosting activities for National Court Reporting & Captioning Week

The Newton Daily News posted an article on Feb. 9 announcing that the Des Moines Area Community College, Des Moines, Iowa, is hosting several events to mark 2017 Court Reporting & Captioning Week. Among the activities will be two information sessions where prospective students can learn about the court reporting and captioning professions.

Illinois governor recognizes 2017 Court Reporting & Captioning Week

In an article posted Feb. 13, the RegisterNews.com, Mt. Vernon, Ill., announced that Gov. Bruce Rauner has designated Feb. 11-18 as National Court Reporting & Captioning Week. The article also noted that several court reporters from the 2nd Judicial Circuit will promote the profession at an upcoming local career fair.

Planet Depos announces success of court reporter mentoring program

In a press release issued Feb. 13, Planet Depos reported that its Planet Institute, a student-to-career mentoring program, has had a successful first year.

Oklahoma court reporting firm launches education and advocacy effort

In a press release issued Feb. 10, NCRA member Ginger Baze, owner of Steno Services in Hugo, Okla., announced that her firm is launching an outreach and education campaign for National Court Reporting & Captioning Week.

Court reporting schools to exhibit at career day event in Texas

The Gilmer [Texas] Mirror posted an article on Feb. 13 about the Texas Supreme Court holding a formal court session to hear oral arguments in two cases at LeTourneau University in Longview, in conjunction with “Law as a Career Day” being held on campus. Numerous law schools, paralegal schools, and court reporting schools will have recruiting booths on-site.

Celebrating the silent keepers of the record

Star Levandowski, director of marketing at Stenograph, posted a blog on Feb. 3 highlighting the top three reasons to admire the stenography profession in honor of Court Reporting & Captioning Week.

But wait … there’s more

Read more about how national and state associations, schools, and vendors have celebrated Court Reporting & Captioning Week. You can also follow along on Facebook and Twitter.

PohlmanUSA Court Reporting earns spot as top workplace

JCR publications share buttonPohlmanUSA Court Reporting has been selected for the second year in a row as one of the “Top Workplaces” in the St. Louis, Mo., Metro-East region for 2016 by the St. Louis Post Dispatch, according to an article posted June 28 by the Madison County Record.

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Emilie Miller Treat, the first female court stenographer for the 10th Judicial District of Missouri

A story posted May 28 by the Hannibal Courier-Post details the story of Hannibal, Mo., resident Emilie Miller and her becoming named the first female court stenographer for the 10th Judicial District of Missouri in 1892. The article includes quotes by Miller about her career that were printed in a 1908 edition of the Macon Republican. She died in 1924.

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PohlmanUSA Court Reporting named a top workplace by St. Louis Post Dispatch

The St. Louis Post Dispatch, St. Louis, Mo., recently named PohlmanUSA Court Reporting as one of the top workplaces in the St. Louis metropolitan region. The company is owned by NCRA member Vicki Pohlman, RPR, CMRS. The announcement appeared in an article posted by the news outlet on June 28.

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