NCRA attends CTC, keeps profession relevant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Massachusetts to replace court reporters

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NCRA member retires from official position

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Nueces County judges form committee to research court reporters’ salaries

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NCRA offers members information on issues, state requirements

Members can find information on the certification, notary, and read-and-sign requirements of various states through the National Court Reporters Association website. This section of the website, which members must sign in to access, was compiled through NCRA’s Government Relations department and the National Committee of State Associations (NCSA). Dubbed the “State of the Nation Activities Report,” or SONAR, the data bank provides state leaders the information they need when dealing with state or national issues. In addition, SONAR can give members a way to compare various pieces of information across the states. These include certification requirements, certification boards, official fee schedule, firm registration, notary requirements, pay rates for officials, read-and-sign requirements, and state tax rules. It also allows members to look up information by state, so that members who are considering a move to a different state can research the requirements. If any of the information on your state is out of date, contact Adam Finkel at afinkel@ncra.org. Information on this can be found at NCRA.org/SONAR.

NCRA member adds 2016 State of the Union speech to résumé

NCRA member Megan McKenzie writes the 2016 State of the Union address

Photo credit: U.S. House of Representatives

Ask any court reporter or captioner about the various assignments they’ve worked and the answers can range anywhere from a small town court case to a papal visit to a major sporting event. In the case of NCRA member Megan McKenzie, RPR, CRR, Arlington, Va., an official reporter for the U.S. House of Representatives, reporting last week’s State of the Union address delivered by President Barack Obama was just one more high-profile job well done.

A court reporter for 15 years, McKenzie said she began her career with the U.S. House of Representatives in May 2006, after a fellow court reporter suggested she apply for an opening that was posted. She began by reporting committee hearings, investigations, and press conferences before moving to the House floor in May 2008 to make the Congressional Record.

During her time working on Capitol Hill, McKenzie said she has also had the opportunity to take testimony from actors Richard Gere and Ben Affleck, as well as musician Ricky Martin, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke, and human rights activist Martin Luther King III. She’s also taken testimony from members of the U.S. Supreme Court, the president’s Cabinet, military officers, refugees from war-torn nations, and the CEOs of several major banking institutions.

“In my opinion, reporting for the U.S. House of Representatives is the most interesting court reporting job because of the wide variety of content we are exposed to, the caliber of witnesses who come to testify before Congress, the excitement of being on the House floor when there is an important vote pending, and the ever-changing political environment,” McKenzie said.

She noted that in comparison to the diversity in the technical content she is regularly exposed to when covering the Armed Services, Financial Services, and Foreign Affairs committees, among others, a presidential speech is much easier and requires very little preparation time.

Covering President Obama’s last State of the Union speech to the nation wasn’t the first time McKenzie has reported or captioned an event with a president in attendance. Other noteworthy assignments have also included captioning President George H. W. Bush’s speech on the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 2005, Vice President Joe Biden’s Family and Friends Party prior to his inauguration where country singer Faith Hill performed and President Bill Clinton spoke, and the Let Freedom Ring Concert held in celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day where President and Mrs. Obama were present. In 2014, McKenzie also reported an address by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to a joint session of the U.S. Congress.

McKenzie attributes her ability to play the piano as part of her success as court reporter and credits her parents for suggesting the career path.

“When I was in high school, my parents suggested court reporting as a career for me because they knew a court reporter and thought it would be a good fit. I had played the piano growing up, so I already had experience with that type of manual dexterity. I definitely think playing the piano helped me progress through school and have heard from other reporters that playing the piano was helpful for them as well.”

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