The filing period for the New York State Office of Court open-competitive examination for court reporters is open through April 5. This is the lower court civil service examination and qualifies those who pass to work in the state’s court system. Candidates are not required to be residents of New York. The examination will be administered statewide on May 20, 2017. For more information, an online examination application, or an orientation guide, visit nycourts.gov.
The New York State Board of Regents has amended the Commissioner’s Regulations that pertains to the Certified Shorthand Reporting examination requirements. The Board of Regents has also approved NCRA’s Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) examination to meet New York’s examination requirement for licensure as a Certified Shorthand Reporter. Their forms and website have been updated to reflect this.
In a press release issued June 22, Deitz Court Reporting announced that is now the largest independent court reporting service to serve the metropolitan New York and Long Island area. The company touts more than 40 years of industry experience and offers coverage nationally as well.
Nathaniel Weiss, a polymathic court reporter in the New York City courts for 70 years, passed away on Dec. 21, 2015, at the age of 95. Nat won the NSRA Speed Contest three years consecutively (1958-60). He dominated the competition, which included a number of state speed champions. Nat was so good a stenotypist that in winning the 1958 Speed Contest, he made a total of 8 errors on all three takes (220 wpm literary, 2 errors; 230 wpm legal opinion, 4 errors; 280 wpm Q&A, 2 errors) repeating this accuracy feat in the 1960 Speed Contest. Nat then retired from the Speed Contest.
It didn’t hurt that Nat was a master of the English language. Over the years, Nat was my authority when I got stuck on a word or term. For instance, I remember once taking down a legal argument during a trial, and my judge said, “Counsel, don’t employ that Schicchi approach.” During a recess I ran to the telephone and rang up Nat, who at the time was working as an official court reporter in the Surrogate’s Court of New York City. I told him what it sounded like. Nat said, “Isn’t your judge something of an opera buff?” Yes, I said. “Then he’s probably referring to an opera by Puccini. However, its spelling is tricky. I suggest you look up under ‘Puccini’ in the Encyclopedia Britannica.” I did so. As usual, Nat was on the mark. Sometime later, my judge leaned over from the bench toward me and said, “Bill, congratulations. You got that Schicchi right.”
Another example: I was stuck on a word. I telephoned Nat. “It sounded like ‘otiose.’” Nat said, “First of all, its preferred pronunciation is ‘OSH-EE-OS’ and not ‘OAT-EE-OS.’” And then gave me the definition.
Nat was a graduate of Brooklyn College majoring in English. He graduated together with his twin brother, Irwin, with honors. However, his twin, Irwin, proceeded to pursue a career as an English teacher in the New York City high schools.
Nat had a lovely family. His wife, Ita, died three years ago. His son Bobbie is currently an esteemed court reporter in the Family Court of New York. His daughter Vivian has spent the last three years nursing Nat’s senescent illnesses.
I’ll miss Nat, not only for his prodigious erudition, but as a good friend with a genial personality.
New York City, N.Y.
By Melissa Foley
Jennifer Dentino studied court and realtime reporting, along with obtaining her associate degree in applied science, at Alfred State College, Alfred, N.Y., from 2010 to 2012. After graduation Jennifer, along with fellow court reporter and best friend Nicole Rotoli, moved to Goshen, N.Y., to work for Cummings Reporting. She worked for two and a half years on all types of depositions, including personal injury cases, medical malpractice, and matrimonial. She also did public hearings for various townships.
Jennifer is a member of NCRA and NYSCRA and currently lives in Rochester, N.Y., where she is employed with the Rochester Police Department as a police stenographer.
- What made you want to become a court reporter?
My grandpa and uncle were both court reporters. I grew up admiring my grandpa and all that he does for our family, and I want to follow in his footsteps. He is a very wise man, and I truly believe court reporting played a huge role in that!
- Tell me about your transition from school to the workplace. What was the biggest challenge? What is your current position?
My biggest challenge throughout my transition was probably just getting familiar with designations and who everyone was in the deposition room. It took a while to understand what role everyone played and why they were there, etc.
As a police stenographer, I work at the professional standards section office, also known as internal affairs. I work with the staff of police sergeants, under the command of a police lieutenant. My main duty here is stenographic work requiring a high degree of accuracy in taking and transcribing statements in connection with police investigations. When needed, I also take and transcribe verbatim testimony during administrative hearings, recorded phone calls, taped statements, and civilian review board findings.
The average time spent reporting versus transcript production is about 50/50. There may be busy weeks with more reporting and little time for transcript production; however, some weeks may be less reporting, with more time to work on transcripts.
- At any point during your court reporting schooling or transition to work, did you have a mentor? If so, how helpful were they to you?
I had a few mentors — one being my grandpa, and a couple other court reporters I knew before going into court reporting. I love to ask questions, so whenever I had a question, I would never hesitate to call a fellow court reporter, as I still do!
Also, I was very fortunate to have my best friend by my side throughout this journey. Nicole and I have been friends since 6th grade, and we decided we would go into court reporting together. We were two out of the three students who graduated in our court reporting class of 2012. It was very helpful to have a buddy system and peer support along the way; we were in this together. We also moved downstate after school, where we lived together and both worked at Cummings Reporting. It was the best experience I could have ever asked for, and what better way than to do it with your best friend! We parted ways last year — Nicole is now freelancing in Buffalo, N.Y., and I came back to Rochester. I don’t think I could’ve done it without her.
- If you could go back and do something differently in terms of school or your first years of court reporting, what would it be?
Take as many tests as you can during school or immediately after graduating. Once you get working, it’s harder to find the time to study for the RPR Exam or any type of certification. It is also helpful to get familiar with test taking for the future.
- What advice would you give to any court reporting students now?
Practice, practice, practice, and don’t get discouraged. There will be hard days, easy days, boring days … every day is different. Don’t get discouraged, and love what you do!
Also, don’t think coming out of school you will be making six figures. You start from the bottom, just like any other job. Stay determined and have patience.
- What was the best piece of advice you received from another court reporter that helped you?
Get right back up after a hard day; it will make you stronger for what tomorrow has to offer.
- What do you like best about your career as a court reporter?
Every day is different. You learn something new as well as meet someone new almost every day. I also love the fact that we do something nobody else can do. Our skill is so unique, and it amazes me every day that I am one of the few who can do it.
- What do you like to do when you’re not court reporting?
I love to be with family and friends, and I love to work out. Living a healthy lifestyle and balancing work with fun is important to me. You will go crazy working all the time. Have some fun — we deserve it!
Melissa Foley, RPR, is an official in Rochester, N.Y., and a member of the NCRA New Professionals Committee. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Amsterdam News, New York, N.Y., reported on May 10 that several attorneys have filed a class action lawsuit against officials as a result of months and sometimes even years-long delays in the cases being heard for residents of the Bronx who have been arrested for a misdemeanor charge. The delays in part are being blamed on lack of a court reporter.
The Watertown Daily Times, Watertown, N.Y., reported on May 11 that the courtroom located at Fort Drum was rededicated in honor of Henry V. Cumoletti, a stenographer who helped provide the official record of the Nuremberg trials, which were a series of trials of Nazi war criminals. Cumoletti passed away in Watertown in 1996 at the age of 89.
The Evening Tribune, Hornell, N.Y., reported on April 26 that court reporting students at Alfred State College recently participated in a successful month-long drive in support of soldiers and military service dogs. The effort benefited Operation Gratitude and the United States War Dogs Association. Student team leader and senior court reporting student Abby Kohler noted that the public response to support the soldiers was staggering.
The New York Post reported on April 24 that severe staffing shortages have resulted in the state court system in New York City being able to operate at only 70 percent of its capacity. One official estimates that $100 million more is needed to fully staff city courts.
Court Reporting & Captioning Week has put a number of NCRA members in the media spotlight, sharing information with viewers and readers about the vast number of opportunities available in the field.
Kicking off the week, Christine Phipps, RPR, owner of Phipps Reporting in West Palm Beach, Fla., was featured in a story aired by CBS affiliate channel 12, while NCRA Past President Nancy Varallo, RDR, CRR, owner of The Varallo Group in Worcester, Mass., joined NCRA member Kathy Silva, RPR, CRR, a freelancer from Andover, Mass., in a story that aired on Mass Appeal.
Appearing in print on behalf of NCRA and the court reporting and captioning professions were NCRA members Donna Cascio, RDR, CMRS, an official court reporter from Somerset, Pa., who was interviewed by the Somerset Daily American, and Melanie Oldham, an official court reporter from Athens, Texas, who was interviewed by the Athens Daily Review. Additional coverage is expected to be generated throughout the week.
NCRA President Steve Zinone, RPR, an official court reporter from Pittsfield, N.Y., joined Tonya Kaiser, RPR, CMRS, a freelance reporter from Fort Wayne and president of the Indiana Court Reporters Association; Susan Gee, RMR, CRR, a freelance reporter from Cincinnati and president-elect of the Ohio Court Reporters Association; and Kathy McHugh, RPR, CRR, a freelance reporter from Philadelphia and president of the Pennsylvania Court Reporters Association in a panel discussion at the College of Court Reporting, in Hobart, Ind., on Feb. 15. The discussion, which took place online via the college’s Blackboard Collaborate, was hosted by CCR President Jeff Moody. More than 30 participants joined the discussion to hear what the panelists had to say about the greatest challenges they faced in court reporting school and how they overcame them, as well as how they were motivated to become leaders within their associations, the benefits of membership at the state and local levels, and the importance of certification. The hour-long session was recorded and can be heard here.
On Feb. 17, Zinone will visit Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, Ohio, where he will address students and faculty at the court reporting program. He is scheduled to deliver a keynote address at 2:30 p.m. ET which can be accessed via the college’s Smart TV channel online.
Official proclamations recognizing 2016 Court Reporting & Captioning Week from state and local lawmakers continue to be reported. To date, the following states have reported official proclamations: California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Virginia, and Washington. Local proclamations have also been issued in Miami-Date County, Fla.; Johnson County, Kan.; Louisville, Ky.; Eugene, Ore.; and San Antonio, Texas.
Below are some of the latest activities happening during the week around the nation:
- The New York State Court Reporters Association will host a variety of events during the week including meet and greets throughout the state.
- Members of the Texas Court Reporters Association are will host a number of Veterans History Project events throughout the state.
- The Hawaii Court Reporters and Captioners Association has encouraged members to display the official 2016 Court Reporting & Captioning Week logo on their social media sites, hang posters at courthouses showcasing the event, and reach out to state and local lawmakers to remind them of the week.
- Members of the Oregon Court Reporters Association will participate in a number of meetings with lawmakers and advocacy groups to bring awareness to the court reporting and captioning professions.
- The Los Angeles County Court Reporters Association will host a social event for members at Santa Anita Park racetrack on Feb. 20.
- The Mississippi Court Reporters Association has posted a fun video on its YouTube page proclaiming the week and the love of court reporting and captioning. Watch here.
For a complete list of activities happening to mark the 2016 Court Reporting & Captioning Week, visit NCRA.org/Awareness. For more information, visit NCRA.org. Career information about the court reporting profession — one of the leading career options that do not require a traditional four-year degree — can be found at crTakeNote.com.