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.

Judges seek pay increases for court reporters

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyOn Aug. 19, The Dispatch reported that the Mississippi 16th Circuit judges are seeking a pay increase for their court reporters.

Read more.

Editorial: Kansas judicial employees deserve a raise

JCR logoThe Kansas City Star printed an editorial on May 29 calling for salary increases for judicial employees.

Read more.

New professional spotlight: Shelley Duhon

By Danielle Griffin

Megan photoShelley Duhon, an official court reporter, was always interested in court reporting ever since she saw court reporters writing on their machines on TV and in movies such as Ghostbusters II. When she completed high school, she decided she wanted to pursue court reporting school. The only problem: There weren’t any schools available in her area. Without knowing a single working court reporter, she started and completed all of her schooling online! Shelley believes the discipline learned through playing flute and piano from when she was young all the way through high school was key to giving her the tools she needed to practice for many hours and to reach the goal of finishing court reporting school. She is so proud to be a newly working court reporter and loves being in this profession.

Where did you go to school?

I am so proud to say I graduated from College of Court Reporting online in 2015. I started and completed all of my schooling online! I started at the Court Reporting Institute of Dallas and finished at the College of Court Reporting.

Where are you from, and where do you work?

I am from Louisiana, but I have lived in Atlanta for the last seven years. I currently live in McDonough, Ga., and commute an hour each way to work.

I work at Macon-Bibb County Superior Court in Macon. I started working there in September of 2016. I am currently the only stenographer! I feel like this gives me an extra advantage to be able to produce rough drafts or daily copies. Because there is a shortage of court reporters in my area, I have also had the opportunity to travel to the local circuit courts with my judge and love getting the experience traveling.

What’s the coolest experience you have had working in the profession?

Currently, there are a lot of production companies that come out to Atlanta to shoot their films. While I was in school, I had the opportunity to work on the TV sets of:

  • A courtroom scene on the television series "Red Band Society" -- Shelley Duhon is the court reporter behind the bench.

    Shelley Duhon, to the left of the flag, in “Red Band Society

    Drop Dead Diva on Lifetime

  • Rectify on Sundance
  • Satisfaction on USA
  • Game of Silence on NBC
  • Red Band Society on ABC
  • The Jury on ABC
  • Tyler Perry’s The Haves and Have Nots on OWN Network

This all came about from a casting call that went out on the local news station. I sent in my information, and I got a call to work on the set of Drop Dead Diva! I was so excited to be there, and I ended up meeting and becoming acquaintances with the producers on the TV show. Since that time, they must have put me on their list because they have continuously called me ever since. It has been an experience I won’t ever soon forget.

What is something you wish you would have known before you started working as a new professional?

One thing I wish I knew is that it is okay to move my chair and sit closer to the jury during voir dire. Make sure you sit where you can hear. Get a digital recorder. It is nice to have a second or third backup just in case.

Never be afraid to interrupt and tell the judge to get a witness to speak up, especially when they are giving nods of the head.

Find out if there is a time limit on getting transcripts turned in, so you won’t have to rush last minute.

Get a mentor and work with them. Meet them for lunch on the weekends. Call and ask questions. There is never a stupid question.

Stay current with your national and state association policies. They are there to assist you.

What is your favorite part about working as a court reporter?

I feel most accomplished when I am writing clean. Some days, attorneys will request of me to get out a daily copy, and it makes me so thankful for the skill I have as a court reporter. This is truly why I went to school.

What are your next goals as a court reporter? What are you working towards next?

After I pass my last test of the RPR, I will be working on getting the CRR. I would like to provide realtime on a continuous basis in the future.

I am also trying to work on balance between my work and personal life. I knew coming into this industry that I wouldn’t have much of a life starting off, but now that I am settling in, I am trying to work on finding more balance. Meeting with other working reporters and mentors helps too. It is always so nice to be able to hear other perspectives.

I am planning on attending the NCRA Convention & Expo this year in Las Vegas and can’t wait to meet more reporters. I am so proud to be a working court reporter and a new professional!

Danielle Griffin, RPR, is a freelancer in Phoenix, Ariz., and a member of the New Professionals Committee. She can be reached at danielle.griffin@gmail.com.

 

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.

Working with my grandfather, the judge

Alice Hadden_croppedAlice Hadden, an official from Portage, Ind., recently saw her court reporting career come full circle, a journey that started many years ago. “I freelanced for eight years and have been an official for almost seven years. I got into court reporting because my grandpa was a judge,” said Hadden.

She explained how her grandfather encouraged her to pursue court reporting: “One day I was expressing to him my frustration with the current college I was attending, and he just simply suggest that I go check out the College of Court Reporting in Hobart. I live in Portage, so it was really close for me. But without him, I never would have looked into court reporting to begin with. I feel like I owe my whole career to him. He is a big supporter of having court reporters in the courtroom!”

In October of this year, Hadden had the chance to show him just how far she’d come. “My grandpa is now a senior judge for the state. I have always dreamed of working with him, him getting to see my realtime, and seeing how far I have come. He’s always been proud of me and is one of my biggest supporters in life.” Hadden got to show off her realtime skills when her grandfather filled in for a couple of days in her courtroom.

Those two days — which Hadden described as a dream come true — went well, although Hadden said, “We were so busy that day that we barely talked besides going to lunch together.”

Reporting: Family law acronyms and slang for court reporters

By Michael Mattice

If you have been assigned to a family law or domestic relations or juvenile court, get ready for a whole new language! Lawyers and judges in these courts routinely use dozens of acronyms to save time in their conversations and space in their documents. Unfamiliarity with these “acronyzed” terms and other family law slang may, for the unprepared court reporter (hereinafter, “CSR”), cause stress that more than offsets the economy in keystrokes.

The problem is two-fold for CSRs. There is a wide variety of terms, and there are no uniform rules of pronunciation. Whereas some acronyms are spelled out, so that “CSR” for example is pronounced “see əss ar,” others are pronounced in ways that resemble a fourth grader’s first venture into reading a foreign language. Thus we have FLAR PL’s (“flar’ pəls”), UIFSA (“ew if ’ sə”), and QDRO ’s (“kwa’ droz”). (Pop quiz: How do you say FUSFSPA? Or UIEDVPOA?)

The following is a list of the acronyms most commonly used on the record in family law courts and a bit of slang. Pronunciations are offered when the acronym is not simply spelled out.

Regrettably for CSRs, this list only addresses some of the slang heard during the average family law calendar because of localized dialect in this legal field and also because practitioners tend to make nouns or verbs at will out of case names. We’ll hear, for example, of pensions that are either Verner-ized1 or Gillmore-ed,2 or both, and unmarried couples who Marvin-ize.3 When spousal support is being discussed, get ready for “Gavron4 orders,” and “Zlatnik, 5 anti-Vomacka6 language.”

Enjoy!

 

AB assembly bill

ADR alternative dispute resolution

AP account payable

AP alternate payee (of pension benefits)

AR account receivable

ATRO automatic temporary restraining order (or “ah’ tro¯ ” [pl. “ah’ tro¯ z”])

AVD alternate (or alternative) valuation date

B&P Business and Professions (Code)

BF biological father (or “bio-dad”)

BF boyfriend (sometimes also “bio-dad”)

BFP bona fi de purchaser

BIA Bureau of Indian Affairs

Bifo bifurcation (“by’ fo¯ h”)

BK bankruptcy

BM birth mother (or “bio-mom”)

C child (sometimes, C1 and/or C2, etc.)

CASDI California state disability insurance (or “kaz’ di”)

CASIT California state income tax (or “kah’ sit”)

CCE child care expense

CCP Code of Civil Procedure

Cert certiorari (or “sərt”)

CMC case management conference

COBRA Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (or “ko¯ ’ brə”)

COLA cost of living allowance (or “ko¯ ’ lə”)

CP custodial parent (see also NCP, below)

CP community property

CPA certifi ed public accountant

CPS Child Protective Services

CRC California Rules of Court (usually mentioned by the judge)

CS child support

DCSS Department of Child Support Services

Depub depublished (or “di pub’d”)

Disso dissolution (of marriage)

DOB date of birth

Docs documents (“dahks”)

DOG date of grant (of stock options, distinguished from “you dog!”)

DOH date of hire

DOM date of marriage

DOR date of retirement

DOS or DOMS date of (marital) separation

DOS date of strike (of stock options, sometimes, “strike date”)

DP domestic partner (see also, RDP)

DRO domestic relations order (or “dro¯ ”; these usually relate to pensions)

DRTRA Domestic Relations Tax Reform Act (or “der’ trə”)

DV domestic violence

DVPA Domestic Violence Protection Act

DVRO domestic violence restraining order

EC evidence code (also usually mentioned by the judge)

EPO’s emergency protective orders, or ex parte orders

ERISA Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ə ris’ ə”)

ESOP employee stock option (or ownership) plan (“ee’ sop”)

Eval evaluation (usual usages: “vo¯ c eval”; “custody eval”)

FCCR family centered case resolution

FCCRP family centered case resolution plan

FCS Family Court Services

FDD final declaration of disclosure

FERS Federal Employees Retirement System

FICA Federal Insurance Contributions Act (“fy’ kə”)

FIFO first in, fi rst out (“fy’ fo¯ ”; see also LIFO, below)

FIT federal income tax

FLARPL family law attorneys’ real property lien (“fl ar’ pəl”)

FMV fair market value

FPKPA Federal Parental Kidnapping Protection Act

FRV fair rental value

FTB Franchise Tax Board

FUSFSPA Federal Uniformed Services Former Spouse’s Protection Act (“fuf’ spə”)

GF girlfriend (sometimes aka “BM” or “bio-mom”)

GM grandmother

H husband (sometimes, H1 and/or H2 etc., sometimes formerly known as“BF”)

HEW health, education, and welfare

HH-MLA head of household, married living apart

I&E Income and Expense Declaration (sometimes “IED” or “FL-150”)

ICE Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ice”)

ICWA Indian Child Welfare Act (“ick’ wə”)

INS Immigration and Naturalization Service

IRA individual retirement account (“eye’ rə”)

IRC Internal Revenue Code

IRMO in re-marriage of (“er’ mo¯ ”)

IRS Internal Revenue Service

JT joint tenancy

K thousand (typical usage: “This house has $35K of equity in it.”)

LIFO last in, fi rst out (“ly’ fo¯ ”; see also FIFO, above)

LLC limited-liability company

LTA living together (or long term) arrangement

M million

M marriage

M mother

Mmmm This cake tastes good. Whose birthday is it?

MFJ married filing jointly

MFS married filing separately

MOD modification (“mahd”)

MSA Marital Settlement Agreement

MSC mandatory settlement conference

MSOL marital standard of living

NCP non-custodial parent

Nonpub non-published

NP natural parent

OT overtime

OPM Office of Personnel Management (federal)

OSC order to show cause

P&A Points and Authorities (sometimes “peez ‘n ayz”)

PAS parental alienation syndrome

PAS preliminary alcohol screening (“pahz”)

PC penal code

PDD preliminary declaration of disclosure

PERS Public Employee Retirement System (“purz”, sometimes “Cal-PERS”)

PI personal injury

PI private investigator

PKPA Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act

POPS Parental Opportunity Program statement (or declaration; usually: “pahps dek”)

Prenup prenuptial

Psych psychological (“syke testing” or “do we need a psych?” or “you need a psych!”)

QCP quasi-community property

QDRO qualified domestic relations order (“kwa’ dro¯ ”)

QJSA qualified joint survivor annuity

QMCSO qualified medical child support order (“kwam’ sko¯ ”)

QPSA qualified pre-retirement survivor annuity (“kwip’ sə”)

QRI qualified residence interest

Quit Can we quit this quazy stuff and go get a beer?

RDP registered domestic partner

REA Retirement Equity Act (“ri’ ə”)

Recomp recomputation (“ree cahmp”)

Refi refinance (“ree fy”)

RFA request for admissions

RFO request for order

RO restraining order

RURESA Revised Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act (“rər ee’ sə”)

S & L savings and loan

S & M (Don’t ask)

SB Senate bill

SC status conference

SCRA Servicemember’s Civil Relief Act

S/E self-employed (compare “1099 earner” and “W-2 employee”)

SH shareholders

SL or SOL statute of limitations

SIDS sudden infant death syndrome (“sids”)

SLAPP strategic lawsuits against public participation (“slap,” sometimes “antislap”)

SLC sole legal custody

SM subject matter jurisdiction

SOD statement of decision

SP separate property

SPC sole physical custody

SS spousal support

SSI supplemental security income

Stip stipulation

STRS State Teachers Retirement System (“stərz”)

T trustee (sometimes “’tee”)

TCT trial court

TS time-share (either child time-sharing between parents, or a condo in Hawaii)

TANF Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (“tan’ əf”)

TILA or TLA Truth in Lending Act (“tee’ lə”)

TIN taxpayer identification number

TMC trial management conference

TPR termination of parental rights

TRDP termination of registered domestic partnership

TRO temporary restraining order

TSC trial setting conference

TSOD tentative statement of decision

UCCJA Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act

UCCJEA Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act

UFTA Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act

UIEDVPOA Uniform Interstate Enforcement of Domestic Violence Protection Orders Act

UIFSA Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (“ew if’ sa”)

Unpub unpublished (or “ən pub’d”)

UPA Uniform Parentage Act

UPAA Uniform Premarital Agreement Act

URESA Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act (“ər ee’ sə”)

USC United States Code (distinguished from “fight on, fight on, for USC!”)

USCA United States Code, Annotated

USSCT United States Supreme Court (sometimes “SCOTUS” or “sko¯ ’ təs”)

VAWA Violence Against Women Act (“va’ wə”)

VTC vocational training counselor

W wife (sometimes, W1 and/or W2 etc., sometimes formerly known as “GF”)

W-2 IRS form W-2 Wage and Tax Statement (tax records for “W-2 employees”)

W&I Welfare and Institutions (Code, sometimes “WIC”)

WD withdrawal

WCAB Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board

WHA withholding allowance

WIP work in progress

1. Verner v. Verner (1978) 77 Cal.App.3d 718 [143 Cal.Rptr. 826]

2. In re Marriage of Gillmore (1981) 29 Cal.3d 418 [174 Cal.Rptr. 493; 629 P.2d 1]

3. Marvin v. Marvin (1976) 18 Cal.3d 660 [134 Cal.Rptr. 815; 557 P.2d 106]

4. In re Marriage of Gavron (1988) 203 Cal.App.3d 705 [250 Cal.Rptr. 148]

5. In re Marriage of Zlatnik (1988) 197 Cal.App.3d 1284 [243 Cal.Rptr. 454]

6. In re Marriage of Vomacka (1984) 36 Cal.3d 459, 204 Cal.Rptr. 568, 683 P.2d 248

 

Please note: A few of these entries are unique to California, e.g. CASIT – California State Income Tax (or “ka’ sit”). However, most are heard throughout the United States. Also, lawyers and judges in other states have used analogous acronization techniques, e.g., Massachusetts State Income Tax is known as “MASIT” (“ma’ sit”).

 

The Hon. Michael Mattice has been a California Superior Court judge since 2003, and has had supervising family law, all-purpose felony, all-purpose civil, and appellate division assignments.

Sunday sit-down: Nancy Varallo

NCRA President Nancy Varallo was recently interviewed by the Worcester (Mass.) Telegraph & Gazette about her business and her career as a court reporter. In the article, Varallo discusses her family’s generational connection to court reporting, as well as that of her husband’s family, how she entered the court reporting profession, and the services her company, The Varallo Group, provides other court reporting firms. She also addresses her involvement in identifying court reporters to work at the tribunals for detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Read more.

Judiciary budget may recover

The U.S. Congress has agreed to a budget that will fund the federal government, including the judiciary, through 2015. According to a Dec. 11 blog on the Legal Times, the agreement could ease at least some of the cuts to the judiciary’s budget. The blog noted that, as Congress debated budget issues in fall, both houses approved budgets that would, “at a minimum, roughly restore money to the judiciary to pre-sequestration levels.”

Read more.

Special report: A looming shortage of court reporters

A special report that highlights an expected shortage of court reporters recently aired on KIMT-TV, which serves Des Moines, Iowa, and the Twin Cities area of Minnesota. According to the report, nearly 60 percent of reporters who are currently working are slated to retire over the next decade. The story features comments from a district court judge about the important role court reporters play in the judicial system, as well as insight about the court reporting program at Anoka Technical College in Minnesota by program director Jennifer Sati and plans by the Des Moines Area Community College to start a similar program in the coming year.

Read more and see the broadcast here.