IN MEMORIAM: Allen Edelist, FAPR, RPR (Ret.)

Allen Edelist on his ascension to the presidency of the California Court Reporters Association in 1993

Allen Edelist on his ascension to the presidency of the California Court Reporters Association in 1993.

The court reporting profession lost an icon last week: Allen Edelist, FAPR, RPR (Ret.), passed away on May 16, 2018, at the age of 67. Allen was a generous, loyal, and true colleague and friend who dedicated a great deal of his time to the advancement of the court reporting profession. He was an avid fan of the Los Angeles Angels and Los Angeles Kings, and he had season tickets for many years and hated to miss a game! And, of course, those who knew him were well aware of his “groupie side,” following the rock band Procol Harum all over the world to see them perform! Allen was also a long-term trustee of the Los Angeles School of Law and Paralegal Studies and a member and supporter of the Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Los Angeles.

Allen’s career in court reporting began in the early 1970s when he enrolled at Clark Court Reporting College in Santa Monica, Calif. He passed the California CSR exam in 1978 and opened his deposition agency, A. Edelist Deposition Services, soon after in 1979. His greatest accomplishment as an agency owner was his devotion to mentoring students and reporters, new and seasoned, throughout his 40 years in the field.

Allen never missed an opportunity to get involved in court reporting association work as evidenced by time served as a board member and multiple officer positions of both Los Angeles General Shorthand Reporters Association and California Court Reporters Association (CCRA), ultimately serving as president October 1993-1994. He was an active member of the National Court Reporters Association for over 40 years, attending most annual conventions as well as firm owners’ retreats. Needless to say, he was extremely generous monetarily and spent an inordinate amount of time helping to produce legislation, continuing education, and public relations programs through these organizations. Allen received many awards throughout his extensive career highlighted by CCRA’s Distinguished Service Award and becoming a Fellow of NCRA.

As a leader and visionary in the court reporting arena, Allen continually strived to advance the profession as evidenced in the following excerpt taken from his CCRA presidential speech on October 9, 1993:

By virtue of the technological presentation we make, we are a unique breed. We are on the cutting edge of information management. The presentation of the spoken word that can be transmitted immediately through a computer and projected onto a screen or printed in braille, integrating the ingredients of litigation support, telecommunications, scanning of documents into the records and CD-ROM text is the future and the future is now.

In the 1970s, we were not unlike Orville and Wilbur Wright. We started by building a base for a product we could offer. Through rapid advancements by the computer industry, as well as futuristic thinking by our CAT vendors, we have continued to grow, now as realtime reporters. We can further our advancement by committing to a program of continuing education that will enable us to converse fluently as computer-literate reporters.

RIP, Allen. You have been an inspiration to many both personally and professionally. Your close friends and colleagues will miss you and your impact on what you once coined “this incredible profession.”

Michele Oken, RPR, CMRS (Ret.)
Sherman Oaks, Calif.

NCRA member writes dream novel

By Becky Doby

“I’d like to sell Mary Kay full-time.” Pause. “I’ve always wanted to be a personal trainer.” Silence.

“Okay, who else?”

It was several years ago, during a break at the annual convention of the Wyoming Professional Court Reporters Association, when one of the members posed the question: What career would you like to pursue if you were no longer going to be a court reporter?

Finally, a quiet voice was heard. “I’d like to write a novel.”

Merissa Racine, RDR

Merissa Racine, RDR, a freelance court reporter from Cheyenne, Wyo., didn’t grow up dreaming of becoming a writer. She was born in the Bronx and grew up on Long Island in New York. As a teenager she moved to Miami, Fla., where she spent her teenage years, and it was there she discovered the world of court reporting. Knowing she wanted a career rather than just a job, she set about identifying what that career would be. Seeing an ad in the paper for court reporting school, she had her answer. She laughingly states that she can’t remember the name of the school, as it lost its accreditation shortly after she enrolled. Yet despite that glitch, she has attained the certification of RDR and has since devoted herself to court reporting, first in Florida and then in Wyoming. But while she didn’t always have the desire to become a writer, Racine does acknowledge that “in the back of my mind I’ve always had a story.”

As is true for those in many legal professions – and perhaps especially in the world of court reporting -­ there have been many times when the thought had crossed her mind: I ought to write a book. Unlike the rest of us, Racine followed through with that niggling idea. She set her mind upon it, dreamed of it, honed her skills, and did it.

In December 2017, Silent Gavel became available through Amazon and online at Barnes & Noble. Now, in addition to enjoying a successful and fulfilling career as a court reporter, Racine can add “published author” to her list of achievements.

As court reporters, we both laugh and grimace at portrayals of stenographers in literature and film. We wish the profession were more accurately depicted, wanting others to understand the contributions we make to the field of law. At last, one who knows the profession in and out, with nearly 39 years of experience “in the trenches,” has provided the true representation we long for. Woven into this murder mystery are such things as the basics of machine shorthand and the use of briefs, such as when the protagonist, Lauren Besoner, makes a list of suspects under the heading S-PS. Besoner also faces a quandary when instructed by her judge to delete from the transcript comments he made on the record. These things, and more, lend authenticity to the novel.

The ways that authors go about writing are many and varied. In her case, Racine would write a paragraph, put it away, and then bring it out again, trying to find an idea that would work. She didn’t write first page to last, having come up with an ending long before the rest of the novel was fleshed out. Once she became serious about writing her book, she attended a seminar put on by the local library. From there, she became a member of the Nite Writers of Cheyenne, a group of aspiring writers. She also attended conferences in order to learn more about the craft. It has been a years-long process, and one that is still ongoing, as Racine continues learning the facets of writing and publishing.

“I wanted to write something that other people would like to read.” With Silent Gavel, Racine has accomplished her goal. In doing so, she has given her readers insight into a profession few know anything about. She wanted to write a novel. Done. Well done!

If you would like to contact Merissa Racine, she can be reached at merissaracine@gmail.com, or visit her website at www.merissaracine.com.

Becky Doby, RPR, is a freelance writer from Torrington, Wyo.

 

NCRA member’s certification noted

The Sun-Sentinel reported on May 9 that NCRA member Mairelys Albo, a freelance court reporter from North Bay Village, Fla., recently earned the Registered Professional Reporter certification. The brief was generated by an NCRA press release issued on Albo’s behalf.

Read more.

South Suburban College alumna finds success in legal field

Patch.com posted an article on May 9 about NCRA member LaTanya Allen, RPR, an official court reporter from Madison, Miss., who was recently sworn in as president of the Mississippi Court Reporters Association.

Read more.

A day in Jurassic World

By Amanda Bavin

I’ve been a member of the British Institute of Verbatim Reporters since approximately 2004-5. Like most people, I pay the membership, take up the odd job offer, network occasionally and that’s where it ends. In June last year, however, a BIVR advert for a Special Skills Film Extra caught my interest!

Someone from Pinewood Studios contacted BIVR, the advert went out, and so I emailed the contact. First, I had to go through “casting”. This sounds more exciting than it was. Basically I had to run to my local Next shop and try on a few different types of suits and get the sales assistant to take photos of me in each suit and then email these over the Pinewood. [Ed. Note: Next is a British clothier company.]

Eventually I received a phone call to say Pinewood was happy with both me and the suit. I asked what film it would be. It was all subterfuge, and I was told only the code name of the film, which was Ancient Futures, and that “It’s a good one.” After Googling, I found out that it was probably the next Jurassic Park called Jurassic World.

The info about the filming day was very vague and sketchy. So when I hadn’t heard anything the day before the shoot, I rang my brothers (who both work in the film industry), and they reassured me that it was normal to not receive any info until late on the evening before. Eventually I received an email with only the details of a random car park and its postcode near Pinewood. Setting my alarm for 3 a.m. the next morning, I was very excited (not how I usually feel before providing speech-to-text at a board meeting).

Bleary-eyed, I arrived on the wrong side of the car park and eventually found the minibus to a random location. I was rushed on arrival to the front of the queue for Hair & Makeup and Wardrobe, as runners shouted, “Here’s the stenographer. Quick! Get her ready. They’re about to shoot Senate scene.” Makeup wanted a “natural look,” which translates to “I should have packed my makeup bag.”

Breakfast was eaten in the next minibus to the filming shed. Little did I know this was the start of about six meals – it was definitely an eat-a-thon. At this point I still didn’t know for sure if it was Jurassic World, but I got some very helpful advice from other extras on the minibus, such as how not to look at the cameras or get distracted, etc., and just do exactly what the director asks of you.

On arrival, I stumbled across the set in the heels that wardrobe had kindly given me and set up my Stenograph Luminex machine as requested to the right of Jeff Goldblum. If you’re as old as I am, you’ll remember him from The Fly. He then came over and introduced himself and thanked me for doing the Special Skills role. He was lovely. I was shocked throughout the day at how hard he worked. I assumed the stars would be let off repeating their lines: He worked from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. and was very professional.

From zoomed-in screenshot of the official trailer: Amanda seems as though she’s in a witness box, but she is indeed playing the stenographer!

The next day, I was told filming would be in Hawaii — of course I would make myself available. The nine hours of filming went by in a blur. I felt sorry for the extras who were part of the audience as they had fake daylight on their faces for hours and so got very warm. It was strange doing the job for real when everyone was talking about dinosaurs; next time I’ll input a shortform for Tyrannosaurus Rex.

No one can say that the stenographer isn’t really writing properly for this film; it’s authentic. We had regular breaks, but it was a repetitive day with the director’s voice booming out every so often.

So if you go to the cinema to watch Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, look out for me in a black suit jacket to the right of Jeff Goldblum. He gives a speech in a Q&A during the Senate scene.

This is probably the best day of my career to date, and next time I hope to get some lines!

(Official trailer – https://youtu.be/vn9mMeWcgoM )

 

Amanda Bavin, NRCPD-Registered Speech-to-Text Reporter/Stenographer, is a freelancer based near London, UK. She can be reached at www.abavinsteno.co.uk.

You never know where the job might take you

Tiffany Treffeisen, RPR, is ready for anything, including on-site trials in the Florida sun!

While working for Orange Legal in Tavares, Fla., Tiffany Treffeisen, RPR, and Lisa Shuman, RPR, shared reporting duties on an eminent domain case earlier this year. When they heard more about the proceedings, they learned that the parties agreed a view of the site – the house and road – would be beneficial to the jury in making its decision. The jury would then be able to see the boundary lines, home, and property lines that had been discussed the previous few days.

Treffeisen, who is also certified in Florida, has been reporting for 20 years in the Fifth Circuit and surrounding counties in Central Florida. Shuman has also been reporting for 20 years throughout Central Florida.

JCR | Did you know when you were assigned that something different was going to happen with this case?

Treffeisen | I was not aware when I accepted the assignment that it would include a site visit, but I learned about it on the first day of trial. Then we just had to wait and see whether it was going to be Lisa or I who was the lucky one to be the reporter, depending on which day they decided to make the trip.

Shuman | Tiffany and I split the trial, and we had heard that Thursday there would be a site visit. They wanted to move it to Friday, but it was supposed to rain, so she was the lucky one. The job I was on that day canceled, so I wanted to go along for the ride to see how it’s done for next time! And also see the road and the house!

JCR | What was the experience like? Did you have any challenges?

Shuman | It was an eminent domain trial for some property in Lake County that was taken by the Department of Transportation for the Wekiva Parkway. I had done a couple things in the case, but was very familiar with the location. I used to use the road every day and it’s being moved due to the Wekiva Protection Act. They wanted the judge and jury to see the land that was taken so they could get the market value for it.

Treffeisen | When I was talking with the attorneys about how the site view was going to take place, they informed me that we (judge, jury, attorneys, bailiff, clerk, and myself) would be taking a transit-type bus to the active construction site and that we would be getting off in several locations and that the surveyor would be testifying as to boundary locations. They advised that we would then be going to the property owners’ home and touring their house and the farm. They also assured me they would make sure I understood when to be on the record.

With the construction of the road already starting, it was a great opportunity for the jury to be able to see exactly where the road was being constructed on the property and how it was affecting the property owners.

The attorneys had also suggested I bring my own chair so I would have some place to sit while taking the testimony. So I loaded up a folding chair that morning and took it with me. I certainly got some strange looks and questions from the security station about why I needed to bring a chair into the courthouse with me.

Thankfully Lisa was there to assist me with the chair so I didn’t have to juggle my machine and the chair while getting on and off the bus; however, the judge often grabbed my chair and scolded the younger male attorneys for not being gentlemen and getting the chair for me. One of the younger attorneys took his cue and began to assist. The judge got a laugh out of “educating” young men on being proper gentlemen.

At each of the five stops, everyone exited the bus onto the road that was being constructed, which was currently lime rock, and gathered around the surveyor for him to show the jury where they were standing in relation to the maps that they had been shown all week. I think the biggest challenge of the day became the wind. It made it difficult to hear the soft-spoken surveyor while he was testifying as to the boundary lines at our stops. It was also super frustrating to have my hair blowing all over my face while trying to write. Fortunately, we were not outside taking testimony for very long, though. And when we arrived at the home and farm, the attorneys said there would be no testimony taken there.

JCR | How long were you out in the field?

Shuman | We were on site for about an hour. We stopped at five stops in various locations on the road, and then we viewed their actual house, stable, and land. There was 434 acres before the taking and 230 after, so it was to see the effect it had on their land and wildlife.

Treffeisen | We were gone for a total of around two hours – but, technically, outside and reporting, probably less than 20 minutes.  The judge gave the jury a half hour to view the house and farm portion, and then we headed back to the courthouse to finish out the day with more witness testimony.

JCR | Anything else you can tell us about what happened?

Shuman | The trial finished the next day. The jury deliberated for 1.5 hours and came back with a $4.9 million verdict!

Treffeisen | It was a pretty laid-back field trip, and it was great to get out of the courtroom for a few hours. The attorneys and the judge were all super nice and were very accommodating to me; making sure that I had everything I needed. Really, the entire trial was like that for Lisa and me. They were a great group to work with.

NCRA member shows off realtime skills during high school courthouse visit

A story posted by the Tacoma [Wash.] Weekly on March 27 noted that NCRA member Kim O’Neill, an official court reporter from Tacoma, demonstrated her realtime skills to local high school students visiting the courthouse.

Read more.

Cascio retires after more than four decades of court reporting

The Daily American posted an article on March 5 about the career of NCRA member Donna S. Cascio, FAPR, RDR, CMRS, from Somerset, Pa., who recently retired after four decades working as an official court reporter.

The following article is reprinted with permission of The Daily American.

After more than four decades as a court reporter, Somerset resident Donna Cascio maintains high regard for the position.

She retired Friday after a distinguished career full of accolades.

“It is unheard of today for someone to remain in the same job for four decades,” she said with a smile and a straight-forward look as she sat in a jury room surrounded by party favors and congratulations signs that were put there by her colleagues.

She ran her hand over the curved bangs of her layered bob as she sat writing out a list for her final day. Cascio was wearing her professional uniform, her petite figure outlined by a dark skirt and jacket and muted colored blouse.

During the interview, several of her colleagues popped in to say a few words.

“I feel very honored and appreciated the fuss that has been made over me,” she said. “I did not ask for it. I did not expect it, but I do appreciate it.”

Court reporting has suited her well.

“It fits my personality as a professional. The profession of court reporting demands that,” she said.

She ticked off some of the traits needed that she sees in herself.

She has a great sense of right and wrong and ethical conduct, she said.

“That is what being a court reporter in the courtroom is all about,” she added.

“I’m an impartial person in the courtroom, an extension of the court. It is my job to maintain an accurate record of what happens in the courtroom to protect people’s rights, because the court record made by a court reporter is the record that goes to appeal in higher court and proves whether people were given their rights.”

Working at the Somerset County Courthouse has enabled her “to see the picture from beginning to end.”

People who are trained in court reporting have many avenues today, from close-captioning for television, owning a freelance court reporting business, or internet work where they can be called to record important business matters.

One of Cascio’s friends works for the International Monetary Fund in Washington, D.C. Another friend also retired Friday from his job as an official reporter in the (U.S.) House of Representatives.

“So the skill set possessed by court reporters today can take you many places,” she said.

She provided a quote about the profession: “Court reporting is a profession that puts the world at your fingertips,” she said with a grin.

Then Cascio highlighted one avenue for court reporters she supports wholeheartedly, Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART), also known as live-event captioning.

“A trained reporter will go with a computer into a classroom for the hearing-impaired student and provide the verbatim lecture of the professor in college and enable hearing-impaired people to expand their knowledge, get a great education and have a degree,” she said.

She believes in education.

“I came from a family, my mother had an eighth-grade education only, and I was the first one of my family of five girls to pursue higher education and I chose court reporting,” she said.

She took enough courses at Conemaugh Township Area High School to finish college in one year instead of the required two years.

While she was in school in Pittsburgh, her father saw an ad for a court reporter in Somerset County and called her. Then-President Judge Charles Coffroth interviewed her for the job. It was a Saturday, she remembered.

She was 19 when she started on Feb. 5, 1973, as a part of the justice system in Somerset County.

She said she has never looked back without a gracious smile.

There have been highs and lows over the 45 years, she admitted.

A low time was in the mid-1980s when a local official, who was part of the justice system, misused his authoritative powers and hurt people under his protection. He was later sentenced, she said.

A high time was witnessing how county residents helped each other during the terrorist attacks on 9/11.

She said she enjoyed working with people at the courthouse and helping others.

“That is what we do every day,” Cascio said. “And we work together to do that. The help I’ve been provided by all the offices has been outstanding.”

Her career has opened the door to meet other people in her profession. Being on the board of directors for both state and national associations allowed her to make friendships that she has maintained.

Cascio was a past president of the Pennsylvania Court Reporters Association. She was a member of the National Court Reporters Association, and in 2014, she earned the National Court Reporters Association registered diplomate reporter certification, the highest credential available to stenographic court reporters. In the same year, Cascio was named as one of seven fellows countrywide in the Academy of Professional Reporters, a professional distinction conferred upon an individual with outstanding qualifications and experience in the field of shorthand reporting. They are nominated for membership by their peers.

On her final day she was set to “entertain her colleagues” who wanted to be part of her farewell.

Now she plans to become more engrossed in her watercolor art, do a little gardening, enjoy cooking and learn to balance her life with everything she wants to do as a busy retiree. She said she is thrilled that she and her husband, John Cascio, a retired judge, can attend their children’s big moments in their careers and personal lives. Their daughter lives and works in New York City, their son is in Washington, D.C.

Life is about a good balance, she said.

Court reporters: Crucial and often unsung players in court, elsewhere

NCRA members and official court reporters from New Jersey, Argia Riggs, RDR, Lois McFadden, RDR, CRR, CRC, and Colleen Kisielewski, RMR, CRR, CRC, were featured in an article posted by The Burlington County Times on March 12 about the court reporting profession both in and outside of the courtroom.

Read more.

NCRA member interviewed on radio program

NCRA member Steve Clark, CRC, of Washington, D.C., was interviewed by Ray Raysor, host of “Sight ‘n Vision Disability and Senior Talk Radio,” about how broadcast captioning works. Clark explains that  live realtime captioning is mostly provided by stenographic captioners using specialized computer translation software to provide word-for-word access for people with hearing impairments. He also spoke about stadium captioning and conference captioning.

The interview with Clark starts at approximately 12 minutes.

Listen here.