Court reporters looking to preserve veterans’ stories

KVUE in Austin, Texas, posted a story on Nov. 10 about the efforts of the Texas Court Reporters Association to collect and record veterans stories for the Veterans History Project, which is housed by the Library of Congress.

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NCRA represented at HUD’s 2019 Veterans Day ceremony

NCRA staff members John Dripps, CPA, CAE, Vice President of Finance and Human Resources; Jocelynn Moore, Director State Government Relations; Annemarie Roketenetz, Director Communications and Marketing; and Jill Parker Landsman, Development Relations Manager for the National Court Reporters Foundation, attended the 2019 Veterans Day Ceremony hosted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on Nov. 7. The ceremony, themed “Honoring Our Veterans, Past, Present, & Future,” also celebrated the work of the agency’s Veterans Affinity Group (VAG), which supports an array of programs ranging from housing to training for U.S. veterans. HUD Secretary Dr. Ben Carson and Medal of Honor recipient Staff Sgt. Ronald J. Shurer, II, were among the speakers. NCRF is hoping to partner with the agency’s VAG on collecting materials for the Library of Congress Veterans History Project.

Shurer is a former U.S. Army Special Forces staff sergeant and medic. As a senior medical sergeant during the Battle of Shok Valley in Afghanistan in April 2008, he and his team were attacked by an enemy force of more than 200 fighters. Shurer fought for more than an hour to reach part of his unit, killing several insurgents along the way. He was initially awarded a Silver Star for this action, but in 2016 The Pentagon upgraded this recognition to a Medal of Honor. He received the latter honor in a White House ceremony on Oct. 1, 2018.

In his remarks, Shurer shared how being awarded the Medal of Honor made him realize that he needed to share his story with others because it provided him with a platform to help those before him who served and after him who serve, to understand that “we are all called to service in one way or another.”

“It is my responsibility to share my story and to give people a tiny glimpse of the job of veterans. I do it because it’s the right thing to do, and we are all responsible to recognize what they do,” Shurer said.

In his remarks, Carson thanked all veterans and noted that, as Americans, it is because of them that the United States is truly the land of opportunities.

“One percent of our population defends freedom for the remaining 99 percent. Veterans Day is a reminder to us all to thank those who have risked their lives and dedicated their lives to keeping the freedoms we hold near and dear,” he said.

Game on for 2020 Court Reporting & Captioning Week

Members of the Texas Court Reporters Association at the Capitol during last year’s Court Reporting & Captioning Week.

NCRA has designated Feb. 8-15, 2020 Court Reporting & Captioning Week. For the eighth year, NCRA members, schools, students, and vendors will be urged to help spread the message about the many unique opportunities, flexible schedules, and high earning potential careers in court reporting or captioning offer by participating in career fairs, securing official proclamations recognizing the weeklong event from local and state officials, hosting Veterans History Project events, promoting the NCRA A to Z® Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program, and more.

“NCRA and its members are so excited to be celebrating 2020 Court Reporting & Captioning Week because it provides each of us with the opportunity to share with others what we love about the profession, why we chose it, and the numerous wonderful benefits it offers,” said NCRA President Max Curry, RPR, CRI, a court reporter and firm owner from Franklin, Tenn.

“Throughout the week, NCRA members will be upping their efforts to introduce to consumers and potential students why the court reporting and captioning professions matter, the positive impact these professionals have on peoples’ lives, and the many great returns such as flexibility in the workplace, the ability to work in different venues around the world, and the capacity to earn high wages,” he added.

Curry said that the week also provides the perfect opportunity to share with potential students how they can take advantage of NCRA’s A to Z® Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program, a free, six-to-eight-week course that is available onsite and online.

“This wonderful program, which is led by working professionals, is designed to help participants get a feel for working on a real steno machine by learning the alphabet and learning to write a few simple words. The A to Z program also provides participants with an opportunity to test the waters and see if a profession in the court reporting or captioning field is a good fit for them,” he said.

Once again NCRA and the National Congress of State Associations (NCSA) are offering members the chance to win event registrations and more for promoting the court reporting and captioning professions beginning now and culminating at the end of the official week.

The NCSA State Challenge offers a friendly contest among state associations and individual NCRA members to spread the word about the benefits of choosing a career in court reporting or captioning. The 2020 NCSA State Challenge marks the sixth 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.

For additional resources, visit NCRA’s Court Reporting & Captioning Week resources page at NCRA.org/home/events. No matter how you celebrate 2020 Court Reporting & Captioning Week, be sure to share your stories and photos with NCRA’s Communications Team at pr@ncra.org. Also remember to use the hashtag #CRCW20 when you post on social media.

For the second consecutive year, NCRA has issued its own challenge that calls on all state affiliates to help celebrate 2020 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 recognizing the week to pr@ncra.org will be entered into a drawing to win one free 2020 Convention & Expo registration. A downloadable sample proclamation is available on NCRA’s Court Reporting & Captioning resource page.

Let the warmth and beauty of 2020 NCRA Business Summit venue inspire you

The NCRA 2020 Business Summit offers more than just networking and learning. Located on more than 400 acres along the banks of the Colorado River, the beautiful Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa in Austin, Texas, offers a variety of amenities and activities for attendees and their guests to enjoy during their stay.

Among the recreation amenities attendees can enjoy include: A full-service spa, salon, and fitness center, two tennis courts, an 18-hole golf course, hiking, biking and jogging paths, horseback riding, a video arcade, a water park, a meet-and-greet with the facility’s mascots, and more. Plus, if attendees book at the special NCRA room rate before Jan. 8, the activity fee of $35 is waived. And don’t forget, register for the event by Nov. 30 and save an additional $100.

Besides the beauty of the Austin countryside and warm temperatures typical of Texas, attendees at the 2020 NCRA Business Summit can also expect to enjoy a schedule that offers informative, inspiring, and insightful sessions led by leaders in the business industry.

Ron Comers, a former FBI agent and currently an advisor on corporate security risks through Charted Risk, LLC., will present “Protecting Your Firm from Scams & Data Breaches,” and offer tips on how firms can keep their files and other information safe in today’s cyber savvy world.

Comers earned a bachelor’s degree in criminology from the University of South Florida and a master’s degree in business continuity, security, and risk management from Boston University. Prior to working for the FBI, Comers was a police officer with the Stratford Police Department in Connecticut. He entered duty as a special agent of the FBI in 1995 and was assigned to the Boston, Mass., division, where he worked bank fraud and drug investigations and also served as a member of the division’s SWAT team.

Over the course of his career, Comers has served in a variety of divisions as an FBI agent, overseeing a number of stateside and international investigations.

In 2010, he served as an acting ALAT in Afghanistan in 2010 and as a member of the Major Crimes Task Force charged with developing the investigative capabilities of Afghan law enforcement. For his service, he received the Attorney General’s Award for Excellence in Furthering the Interests of U.S. National Security.

Other speakers include Cathy O’Neal, communications director for Levitt Pavilion Arlington, who will lead a session about successful social media strategies to help build business; a financial planning session led by Chris Moyseos, a financial planner who will discuss succession and financial planning; and NCRA Interim Executive Director Dave Wenhold, CPE, who will present the findings of NCRA’s 2020 Firm Owners Economic Outlook Survey.

WCRA presents to University of Wisconsin-Madison law students


Court reporting student Kasey Anderson, WCRA Board Member Kristen Wurgler, attorney Jason Knutson

By Kristen Wurgler, RPR

On behalf of the Wisconsin Court Reporters Association, I had the great fortune to create and present a PowerPoint slide show for a pre-trial advocacy class at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School in October. It was a neat experience for all involved. Let me explain how this came about.

Erica Schueler, a WCRA board member, sent letters of inquiry to law programs in Wisconsin to spark some interest in having WCRA present to law students about court reporting. After receiving this letter, the law school passed the letter on to instructors who might be interested in the experience. Attorney Jason Knutson from Habush Habush & Rottier was the instructor for a class on pre-trial advocacy. He decided a presentation by WCRA was a really valuable opportunity for his students. I answered Erica’s call for a presenter because I work at UW-Madison. WCRA is very interested in forging an early relationship with law students so that they could have an early exposure to court reporters, see the relationship between the two professions, provide some tips for attorneys, and understand the attorneys’ responsibility in creating a good record. The presentation was entitled “Making the Record” and was adapted from NCRA’s 2016 guide of the same name. [Ed Note: While the document was originally published by NCRA, it is currently offered as a resource through the organization’s charitable arm, the National Court Reporters Foundation. You can find more materials here.]

The plan for the pre-trial advocacy class was that I would present a PowerPoint for about 30 minutes, which would outline tips for making a good record. Then the students would split into teams and have mock depositions. When I heard the plan for the day, I was determined to get court reporting students involved. I invited Madison College court reporting students to attend so that they could also be a part of this role-playing activity. The court reporting students could set up their steno machines and laptops and then have the practice of swearing in “witnesses,” writing depo material, asking for clarification from witnesses, and/or prompting witnesses to speak up. This was the perfect opportunity for court reporting students to gain confidence in using their voice to control a deposition and practice writing. But, in addition, the hope was that the experience would motivate them by showing them how good their steno skills are which, in turn, might provide a little positivity and propel them to complete their court reporting degrees. 

Student Kasey Anderson from MATC jumped on the opportunity. So on a very rainy October day, Kasey and I met at the law school and talked about the plan for the class. We both put our steno machines in plain sight so that law students would have the opportunity to see them, strike the keys, and have the chance to write a bit. The “Making the Record” presentation stressed the relationship between attorneys and court reporters and provided many tips for creating a good record such as: pausing and thinking before speaking, not speaking too fast, identifying important information for the court reporter, spelling technical terms or odd spellings of proper nouns, judicial etiquette of speaking one at a time, and respecting the court reporter’s need for breaks. 

I had handouts for the students. One was the NCRA Making the Record Guide from which the PowerPoint was created. The second was a diagram of the steno keyboard. We even went through an exercise where I taught the student-attorneys how to write Bucky on the steno keyboard. After I explained how the steno machine worked, I wanted them to have hands-on experience with the complicated nature of court reporting. I heard many protestations as we worked through the hand gymnastics of writing Bucky on their faux steno keyboards.

After the presentation, the student attorneys broke into groups of three and practiced deposition procedures. One was the plaintiff attorney, one the defense attorney, and one a deponent. The plan was that each group would rotate to Kasey at least once, so they could have the experience of sitting with the court reporter. 

During the first rotation, I sat with Kasey so that I could swear in the witness and she could watch and listen. I think it was good for her to see that the court reporter is allowed to have a voice and can use it to get a deposition off to a good start. I explained to the deponent about deposition ground rules (i.e. audible answers, wait until the full question is asked before answering, etc.) and then swore in the witness so that Kasey could understand the flow. The student attorneys spelled their names for Kasey slowly and let her know who they represented. Every once in a while, one of the student attorneys would look our way sheepishly because of a stray vocalization of something that went against the tips from the PowerPoint.  This led Kasey to feel comfortable using her voice when she requested one of them to speak up or ask for a clarification. It was awesome! It was good see the student-attorneys stumbling and asking Kasey not to judge because they had never done a depo before. This was a good reminder that everybody has to start somewhere!

As the groups would rotate over to Kasey, she and I had the opportunity to chat about how things were going for her. I had a couple helpful hints for her about how to handle things in the moment such as writing a name or word consistently for editing later (i.e., name Barebosasei became Bee* for a trash global later). We talked about the swearing in process and how to handle witnesses who wouldn’t take an oath. 

Overall, I think it was an uplifting experience because the pace was manageable. Court reporting students are beaten down every day with skills tests. Kasey learned how skilled she truly is on her steno machine and gained invaluable confidence. Later I jumped into some of the groups and became various groups’ court reporter. Although I’ve been involved in CART for the last 12 years, it was amazing how quickly the rhythm of Q&A came back to me!

I hope one of you will consider an outreach opportunity such as this. The PowerPoint and handouts are the property of WCRA. It was written so anyone can get a copy and modify it to fit the presentation one is doing.  The same goes for all the handouts. 

The WCRA Board is hoping this presentation to new lawyers becomes an annual event for the two law schools in Wisconsin. When students first begin law school, they are learning all about the necessary skills they need as an attorney such as an understanding of the law, how to put a case together, how to represent clients, and the art of thoughtful persuasion. But if we can take this opportunity to train them to remember that their words are the record, we take a big step toward creating an effective, usable transcript produced by a human being – not a robot.

Please feel free to contact any member of the WCRA Board if you are interested in presenting in the future or would like access to any of the materials discussed.

Kristen Wurgler, RPR, is a WCRA board member in Madison, Wis.

Naegeli announces new scholarship

Naegeli Deposition & Trial has announced a new scholarship to inspire creativity and assist student leaders with self-development.

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Albuquerque city councilors to introduce closed captioning ordinance

Channel KRQE, Albuquerque, N.M., reported on Nov. 6 that a new proposed city ordinance, which calls for closed captioning to appear on any TV that is open to the public viewing, will be introduced at the next city council meeting on Nov. 18.

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Register now for the next NCRA Town Hall

Register now to attend the next virtual Town Hall Saturday, Nov. 16, at 10 a.m. (Eastern). NCRA President Max Curry, RPR, CRI, will be joined by Director Keith Lemons, FAPR, RPR, CRR. With Board of Director nominations currently open, their discussion will focus on the importance of Board service and of members serving on committees. (NCRA Town Halls are open to only NCRA members.)

The NCRA virtual Town Hall meetings offer members the opportunity to ask questions via the Q&A feature. Questions can also be submitted in advance to lbutler@ncra.org. Registration for the Nov. 16 Town Hall closes at midnight Nov. 15, so register now. Members can also catch up on previous Town Halls by clicking here.

6 Things Court Reporters Wish Attorneys Would Do to Improve the Deposition Record

A blog posted Nov. 4 by JD Supra, offers six suggestions court reporters wish attorneys would follow to help a deposition go smoothly for everyone in the room.

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Captioning Awareness Week launches in UK on Nov. 11

WhatsOnStage.com, London, England, posted an article on Nov. 5, about the arts venues around the country that will take part in Captioning Awareness Week from Nov. 11 to 17.

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