Queens court reporting students compete for speed and accuracy in contest to prepare for jobs

s4story.com posted an article on Feb. 15 about students from Plaza College in Queens, N.Y., showcasing their court reporting skills as they competed in the 2019 National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) Student Speed Contest.

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Help wanted: As court reporters age, craft seeks new blood

On Feb. 14, the North Carolina Lawyers Weekly posted an article generated by Court Reporting & Captioning Week about the need for more court reporters.

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2019 Court Reporting & Captioning Week celebrated in the media and on social media

Mississippi court reporters at the Capitol

Social media shares, careers showcased in the press, official proclamations, memes, open houses, and more have marked NCRA’s seventh Court Reporting & Captioning Week celebration happening Feb. 9–16. The weeklong event is designed to help promote the court reporting and captioning professions to the public by hosting demonstrations, open houses, and more.

At the national level, U.S. Rep. John Shimkus from Illinois recognized the week in a written speech submitted for the official record of the U.S. House of Representatives. In addition, U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis from Iowa delivered a similar speech from the House floor on Feb. 14, recognizing the event.

On Feb. 12, NCRA President Sue A. Terry, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC, participated in “Spread the Word,” an online event hosted by the College of Court Reporting in Valparaiso, Ind., in honor of 2019 Court Reporting & Captioning Week. Terry joined other representatives from the court reporting and captioning professions to talk to students firsthand about the benefits of a career in court reporting or captioning. The speakers also provided motivation and inspiration to those who attended and participated in a Q&A segment.

“It was a fantastic event for the attendees,” said Terry.  “Watching the chat window, you could tell they appreciated the information and were inspired by the many presenters. The presenters were given the opportunity to craft their own messages and topics. This was a great idea because you could tell each participant was speaking from their heart. It was an honor to join this group of dedicated professionals in giving back and motivating the next generation of reporters,” she added.

Social media has been abuzz

From Magnolia Reporting

State associations, individuals, and students have also taken to social media outlets to celebrate the week. In addition to sharing memes, professionals have also been sharing why they love their careers, information about special events happening in their areas, and more.

The celebration even generated a tweet by Joe Fulton, an attorney and partner with Martineau King in Charlotte, N.C., who tweeted “In honor of Court Reporting and Captioning Week, I will be keeping my voice up and speaking a little slower than normal this week. I have no idea how these people keep up! My best guess is magic.”

The Deposition Reporters Association of California shared via email with members a video of a keynote speech delivered by its lobbyist and attorney, Ed Howard, at its 2017 annual convention, where he told reporters why they are amazing.

In honor of the week, NCRA also launched a series of videos featuring members talking about why they love their careers. The videos are available on NCRA’s YouTube channel. State associations, members, and schools are encouraged to share them to help promote the court reporting and captioning professions all year round.

More schools joined in the fun

The Captioning and Court Reporting program at Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C), Cuyahoga, Ohio, held its annual write-a-thon fundraiser in celebration of the week. Students in the program gathered in a prominent area of the school plaza and worked together on their machines as a visible display of the court reporting profession in training. Students secured sponsors ahead of time to contribute funds to support student members attending professional development activities such as state and national conventions. In addition, Tri-C students in the program hosted a “Professional Pop-Up” interactive career event, which featured professional reporters from a variety of court reporting and captioning sectors who displayed their skills through demonstrations of live reporting and captioning. The event was followed by a Q&A session.

Court reporting and captioning students at Madison College, Madison, Wis., manned a two-day table in the school’s cafeteria where they practiced writing on their machines and talking with visitors to the table. In addition to the students, instructors were also on hand to talk about the career and the many opportunities available for those who choose it.

Official proclamations from Pennsylvania and San Antonio, Texas, were also reported later in the week bringing the total number of proclamations to 16.

And, as always, there has been media coverage

National Court Reporting & Captioning Week Showcased on Local Station

On Feb. 9, KIIITV, Corpus Christi, Texas, aired a story that featured faculty and students from the Del Mar College’s court reporting program showcasing the court reporting and captioning professions.

Watch the story.

Court Reporting & Captioning Week in Iowa

The Newton Daily News reported on Feb. 12 that a number of NCRA members from Iowa and faculty from the Des Moines Area Community College successfully secured an official proclamation by state Gov. Kim Reynolds recognizing 2019 Court Reporting & Captioning Week.

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Local court reporters recognized

On Feb. 11, channel KSAT, San Antonio, Texas, aired a story that recognized court reporters for their work. The story included an interview with NCRA member Carol Castillo, an official court reporter, from the steps of the Bexar County Courthouse in honor of 2019 Court Reporting & Captioning Week.

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An Interview with Kaylee Lachmann, RPR

NCRA member Kaylee Lachmann, RPR, a new court reporter with Planet Depos, was profiled in a blog posted by JD Supra on Feb. 13.

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Don’t forget to enter into this year’s drawings: Deadline to enter for both is Feb. 18

The NCSA State Challenge is a friendly contest among state associations and individual NCRA members to spread the word about the benefits of a career in court reporting or captioning. The 2019 NCSA State Challenge marks the fifth year the gauntlet has been thrown down. Winners will receive a variety of prizes ranging from complimentary NCRA event registrations to vouchers for continuing education.

This year, NCRA has issued its own challenge as well: It calls on all state affiliates to help celebrate this year’s Court Reporting & Captioning Week by securing an official proclamation recognizing the week by their state governor or a state lawmaker. States that submit a copy of their official state proclamation to pr@ncra.org will be entered into a drawing to win one free 2019 Convention & Expo registration.

A downloadable sample proclamation is available on NCRA’s Court Reporting & Captioning resource page.

For additional resources, visit NCRA’s Court Reporting & Captioning Week resources page at NCRA.org/home/events. No matter how you celebrate 2019 Court Reporting & Captioning Week, be sure to share your stories and photos with NCRA’s Communications Team at pr@ncra.org.

Read more about what others are doing to celebrate NCRA’s 2019 Court Reporting & Captioning Week.

Survey says: NCRA 2019 Business Summit inspiring and awesome

Jackie  Burrell, Fort Myers, Fla., Christine Bradshaw, Ocala, Fla., Debbie Dibble, Salt Lake City, Utah, and Dave Wenhold, NCRA Interim Executive Director & CEO at the 2019 Business Summit.

NCRA’s 2019 Business Summit held Feb. 1-3 in San Diego, Calif., attracted more than 170 attendees representing firms of all sizes from across the country and abroad and, as promised, delivered cutting-edge content and valuable takeaways for everyone.

Formerly called the NCRA Firm Owners Executive Conference, this year’s event was positioned to provide new and inspiring sessions designed to deliver the latest in business trends for success.

“The NCRA Business Summit set the stage for an exceptional year ahead!” wrote one attendee in a follow-up survey. “The integration of knowledge, support, and connection was awesome! An investment that will continue to pay dividends in the foreseeable future. Thank you, NCRA.”

Dr. Wendy Patrick leads a session on
“How to Effectively Communicate with Difficult People.”

Highlights of the 2019 Business Summit included ample networking opportunities, a discussion about trends in the industry by a panel of experts, a lesson on how to use storytelling as an influencer, and a keynote session focused on how simple shifts in everyday routines and mindsets can have a positive impact on leadership.

Other sessions included a look at the importance of community engagement and how to deal with difficult people. In addition, attendees watched a special Veterans History Project live interview that captured the story of Rear Adm. Ronne Froman, USN (Ret.) Froman served 31 years in the U.S. Navy and was the first woman to serve as commander of the U.S. Navy Region Southwest, responsible for nearly 90 Navy stations and bases around the world with a $7 billion budget.

The VHP panel included videographer Jennifer Eastman, San Diego, Calif., Jan Ballman, Minneapolis, Minn., Rosalie Kramm, San Diego, Calif., Rear Adm. Ronne Froman, and court reporter Tricia Rosate, San Diego, Calif.

“This year’s event inspired me to continue my leadership training through education,” said Jeri Kusar, RPR, CEO of Kusar Legal Service in Los Angeles, Calif. “It confirmed that my company was on the right path. I left renewed and regenerated with a clearer vision for the future.”

NCRA member Cheryl Mangio, RMR, CRR, CMRA, a freelance court reporter and agency owner from Seattle, Wash., said she found the session “Tough Love Part 2extremely valuable. It was led by past NCRA Director Mike Miller, FAPR, RDR, CRR, a freelance court reporter from Houston, Texas.

“I was really interested in Mike Miller’s talk because he is credible, and he didn’t hold back,” said Mangio. “I knew he would tell it like he sees it. It was awesome! In my opinion, he was right on. Overall, things are changing, and we need to evolve and adapt.”

2019 Business Summit opening reception

“I have always attended [the] Firm Owner’s [conference] and so naturally wanted to attend the Business Summit – I always learn so much and love seeing all of my colleagues who are so dear to me. If you want to feel the pulse of the industry and learn from other firm owners and leaders, you need to attend conferences with like-minded individuals,” she added.

An Interview with Kaylee Lachmann, RPR

NCRA member Kaylee Lachmann, RPR, a new court reporter with Planet Depos, was profiled in a blog posted by JD Supra on Feb. 13.

Read more.

Huseby Announces Acquisitions Across Southeast

In a press release issued Feb. 12, Huseby, based in Charlotte, N.C., announced the acquisitions of Edwards Reporting in Jackson, Miss., King Reporting in Melbourne, Fla., and Ruffin Consulting, in Raleigh/Wilmington, N.C.    

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Local court reporters recognized

On Feb. 11, channel KSAT, San Antonio, Texas, aired a story that includes an interview with NCRA member Carol Castillo at the steps of the Bexar County Courthouse. Castillo is an official court reporter who spoke about court reporters being recognized in honor of 2019 Court Reporting & Captioning Week.  

Read more.

Court Reporting and Captioning Week in Iowa

The Newton Daily News reported on Feb. 12 that a number of NCRA members from Iowa and faculty from the Des Moines Area Community College successfully secured an official proclamation by state Gov. Kim Reynolds recognizing 2019 Court Reporting & Captioning Week.

Read more.

Reporting from the courtroom to jury deliberations

Theresa (Tari) Kramer, RMR, CRR, CPE, an official court reporter from Charlotte, N.C., recently provided CART to a juror. She described the experience for the JCR Weekly.

Tari Kramer

JCR | How long have you been a court reporter?

TK |28 years.

JCR | Have you been the reporter for a juror before?

TK | Yes, one other time, but the juror did not make it into the jury box. This was my first time one made it all the way through the trial process.

JCR | How did you get this job? 

TK | I obtained this assignment based on my skills, equipment, and experience and because our courthouse recognizes the benefit and convenience of utilizing a certified realtime reporter. The jury services office advertises CART as an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) option for hearing-challenged prospective jurors. They refer to it as a “note taker.” We have two full-time realtime reporters, and I was assigned to cover the assignment. The juror had requested someone to provide note-taking services during their jury orientation and during all phases of the trial process.

JCR | How would you describe the experience? What were you doing, and how did you do it? 

TK | This was such a rewarding experience. I can confidently say that it was the most rewarding week of my career. It’s one thing to be involved in the trial process on a daily basis, but it’s an entirely different and humbling experience to help one on one with someone who otherwise would not have been able to participate in the jury process.   

Through this experience I have realized that there are some folks who fall within a gray zone of not being deaf and only somewhat hard of hearing, people who don’t need a full-time interpreter and function well on a daily basis without any assistance. My juror was not fully deaf, has not been diagnosed with any hearing deficit, and does not read lips or communicate through sign language. She was fully capable of communicating her thoughts, articulate with her words, and responded appropriately to attorneys during voir dire. 

Her challenge, as relayed by her, came when people speak soft, there are other noises in the background, or when the speaker is not looking in her direction. The sound suddenly cuts in half, and she begins to panic. Knowing this challenge and realizing the importance of her role as a juror, she decided to ask for a note taker to fill in the gaps during these kinds of moments. 

The view from the juror’s seat

I met the juror at 8 a.m. on Monday morning in the jury assembly room. I discussed with her the services I would be providing, a little bit about the technology, and got some background on her hearing challenges. My employer provided me with a rolling cart, and I followed the juror wherever she was directed to go. She received my streaming feed through an iPad. I had two other iPads on a constant charge, ready to change out for the one she was using. I use a wireless router for the room only. While she was able to view the feed on the iPad, I noticed that my router would cut out when I moved the cart to another room. In the future, unless the juror is sitting in the jury box further away from me, I will just have them view the feed on my computer.

Eventually she was called into a courtroom and was put in the box on the first call by the clerk. I sat behind the official court reporter and provided a feed for her during the voir dire process. Shortly thereafter, she was approved and sworn in as a juror. 

When the trial began, I was sworn in as an interpreter. Having this be a new experience for myself and the judge, I took the liberty of printing out some information from NCRA, the state of North Carolina’s policies on ADA requirements for trial participants, and a few other articles. I highlighted and tabbed the areas most pertinent to the situation and handed it to the judge. It was soon determined that I would act as an interpreter of sorts. My sole job during the trial was to meet her needs. When the jury went in and out of the courtroom, I was with her. I purposely did not stay in the courtroom during the parts of the trial when the jury was gone. I wanted to remove myself from any knowledge of the case and/or any impropriety. 

She did express a desire to have me in the deliberation room because, when everyone was talking, she didn’t think she would be able to hear folks on the other side of the room. That moment came, and I got the enviable opportunity to be a fly on the wall during a jury’s deliberation process. I informed the jury of my role and that my iPad feed was just to be viewed by her, not to ask me any questions, and to treat me as if I was invisible in the room. I did, however, request that they “try” to speak one at a time. Any experienced reporter knows that this will not happen when you have 12 impassioned folks discussing an issue, but I felt I had to make the request anyway.

The deliberation takedown was fast and furious. One juror had been dismissed so it was a jury of 11 (civil case).  In my mind, that was one less voice to pick up and write. I sat in the middle of the room. My client was to the left of me. Eventually we got into a rhythm. She heard what the people were saying to her left and next to her. I wrote mostly what I heard on the right side of me. I would not write what she said. 

Logistically, I had literally five minutes to prepare for this, as the judge got the case to the jury rather quickly, so I had no time to prepare speaker IDs. As it turns out, I would not have had time to identify each speaker anyway due to the fast nature of the conversation. So what I ended up doing was adding two to three lines to my paragraphing stroke. When someone new spoke, I paragraphed and the screen went down a couple of lines. This provided space in between speakers. I know this was not the most ideal, but it’s what I had in the moment and it was my first time going through this experience.  

On a side note, I am so very thankful for the NCRA CART group inside of Facebook that I feverishly made requests in that day. Several reporters chimed in on suggestions for deliberation takedown. I have such appreciation for my seasoned colleagues who have journeyed through this before me. 

When the deliberations were finished, I had written 110 pages in one and a half hours. Mind you, this includes extra lines between speakers, but it was still extremely fast. What an exhilarating challenge that was! They threw the kitchen sink in, metaphorically, with the whole conversation. The terminology varied wildly — everything from religion to hematomas to DUI alcohol terms.

It was also interesting to observe the process. Eleven people who remained silent were suddenly full of thoughts and opinions, waiting impatiently to be the next one to voice their ideas. Most folks were boisterous while the minority were a bit reserved. In the end, however, they came to a consensus as a group because members were willing to compromise without relinquishing their principles. There was some heated conversation and one member who seemed to stand out from the rest on his opinions. This all reminded me of my bachelor’s classes in behavioral science. We studied things like this — what causes a group of people to respond and make a collective decision the way they do; how do outside influences, life experiences, and core beliefs affect a group decision? I was fascinated, like reading a book, to see this process unfold. 

JCR | Did the juror say anything to you about her experience?

TK | Yes. At the end, I was in the jury room with the jurors and the judge. Everyone was speaking frankly and openly about the case and the experience. My client made it a point to thank me and the judge for allowing her to be an involved participant in the process. She said she had been very nervous about the experience (as are most prospective jurors) but especially because she had serious doubts about her ability to serve successfully. She said that my services made that possible for her. The judge also said he had never seen this technology being utilized before. He was familiar with realtime technology but not how it was used for a juror. 

JCR | How long was the case? 

TK | The juror entered the courtroom on a Monday afternoon, was sworn in at the end of voir dire, then came back the next two days for the trial. So it lasted about two and a half days.

JCR | Would you be interested in doing this again? 

TK | I would definitely like to do this again. However, next time I would tweak my dictionary a bit to have more room sound definitions than I currently have; i.e., laughter, loud noise, private conversation held. I would also only bring my laptop into the jury room (thank you, NCRA Facebook group member suggestion). When someone recommended that, I metaphorically slapped my forehead like “oh, yes!” It would have made things go a lot faster had I just provided the juror with a view of my laptop instead of everyone waiting for my technology to reboot in a different room. But I don’t fault myself for any of this because it was all new terrain for me, professionally speaking, so I chalked it up to a wonderful learning experience.

While this appeared to have been a positive experience for the juror, it was eye-opening for me how beneficial court reporters are to the hearing-impaired community. There are folks like this juror who have no idea that this opportunity exists — people who do not fit the black-and-white description of a hearing-impaired client. I wish that CART was more readily known because so many people would find a genuine benefit from this technology. I would love to be involved in creating a CART-in-the-courtroom training program for our officials in North Carolina because, when preparing for and going through the juror’s time in our courthouse, I did not find much information on how to perform my role. It would have been nice to have a crash course of sorts or a cheat sheet to take with me throughout the assignment. We also need to update the verbiage in the interpreter oath, as it did not reflect my role during deliberations. All in all, though, I would definitely do this again because the experience far outweighed the challenges.

How an “Evil Zombie Vampire Court Reporter from Hell” figures prominently in NCRA’s Court Reporting & Captioning Week

Maxyne Bursky

By Maxyne Bursky

NCRA’s 2019 Court Reporting & Captioning Week is a great impetus for veteran reporters to head into reporting schools and give both students and newbies a taste of what successful and amazing careers lie ahead of them. As experienced professionals, we have the privilege and advantage (and obligation, I would offer) of being able not only to show them a living, breathing sample of what’s possible, but also to give them a leg up on the mistakes, errors, or omissions (yes, omissions) we have made and bring this whole industry into perspective for a new generation of verbatim reporters. We are the face of the past and present, and they are our future.

On Feb. 9, I, along with my husband, Richard, a reporter of nearly 45 years, was honored to present a film I wrote and produced called “Evil Zombie Vampire Court Reporter from Hell” to students at Brown College of Court Reporting in Atlanta, Ga. The film is a 43-minute spoof of a deposition in which the star commits 47 professional infractions, any one of which could have gotten her dismissed from her job and many of which could have potentially ended her career.

Just to give you a little taste, the court reporter is 15 minutes late to the deposition, and she offers no apology or excuse. In fact, within the first five minutes, her actions clearly point to the fact that the attorneys in the film are in for a very, very long day.

Every time over the past five years that I have presented this film — as well as its sequel, “Evil Zombie Vampire Lawyer from Hell” — I watch it from beginning to end along with the attendees. I never tire of hearing students and veteran reporters alike gasp and giggle at the evil reporter’s bad behavior. It heartens me to know that the principles of preparedness, professionalism, and propriety, not to mention common sense, are ingrained in the majority of court reporters.

Even so, there are those who have come up to me at the conclusion of my lecture at a reporting school or even at a state convention and complained that the film is misguided in that, for example, not being prepared with exhibit stickers, extension cords, and the like is not so bad, or showing up 15 minutes before the start of a proceeding is acceptable. I typically arrive 45 minutes to an hour early, and when a student is shadowing me, I require them to meet me 60 minutes before the scheduled time so that we can chat about what is going to transpire once we are on the record.  My usual response to these naysayers is, “Well, you keep doing that, and next time those clients will call me, not you.”

Each person who watches the film receives a list of those 47 sins that evil reporter has committed, and I encourage everyone to hold off looking at the list and write on a separate piece of paper the number of bad behaviors they observed and then compare that list to the distributed material. I am so pleased to say, when we got to the lecture portion of the session at Brown College, the students were able to volunteer more than half of the unprofessional antics demonstrated in the film.

Brown College requires my book Talk to the Hands, a practical guide for the newbie, to be used by students in their career development class, which is one of the courses offered just prior to graduation. At each film presentation, I supply a workbook for that book, along with exemplars of cover, appearance, and certificate pages, among others, for students to use as a template when first entering into the court reporting workforce.

As a proud participant in NCRA’s online mentoring program, before I get off the phone with a dedicated court reporting student who’s stuck at 150 wpm or who has just emerged from theory and is feeling overwhelmed, I make sure that they know I went through the same angst, managed to get through it, and love (nearly) every minute of my workday.  And the paychecks aren’t bad either!

Because our profession has expanded so rapidly through technology, one of my mantras at every “evil” film presentation, on every mentoring phone call, at every meet and greet for new students, is realtime, realtime, realtime. That skill is what separates the proverbial men from the boys and expands our opportunities for personal and professional growth. In fact, the “evil reporter” is vehement in refusing to provide realtime to the movie’s attorneys.  In my early days of doing realtime, I felt as if I were sitting in the conference room in my dirty pajamas, and everyone present could plainly see how incompetent I was because of a misstroke here and there. I’m not afraid to share this and other similar observations with newbies, to let them know that with time and experience and a commitment to attaining higher speed through practice even after graduation, these insecurities will fade and be replaced with a satisfaction and acknowledgement of one’s own competence that will give rise to that new generation of professional court reporters.

Maxyne Bursky, RPR, CRR, CRC, is a freelance court reporter from McDonough, Ga. She can be reached at bullymax1@aol.com.