Start your new career path as a court reporter

On July 18, Fox Channel 2, St. Louis, Mo., aired an interview with NCRA members Debbie Walters, the CEO of PohlmanUSA, and court reporter Angela Taylor, RPR, about the need for more court reporters and NCRA’s A to ZTM Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand.

Watch here.

Great sessions planned for captioners at NCRA 2019 Convention & Expo

What can captioners expect at the NCRA 2019 Convention & Expo this Aug. 15-18 in Denver, Colo.? Lots of networking, lots of learning, and lots of great fun! Don’t miss the opportunity for reconnecting with old friends and building your network with new ones — from a warm welcome at the Opening Reception to scheduled coffee breaks to the excitement at the Saturday Award Luncheon and Member Recognition Gala on Saturday night. People staying in the hotel block also get the chance to jump-start their days with breakfast with other attendees.

Haven’t registered yet? You still have time! Online registration is open through July 31.

Registration is also still open for the Certified Realtime Captioner (CRC) Workshop. The CRC Workshop is being held on Thursday, Aug. 15, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and is chock-full of valuable information for understanding what it takes to be a captioner.

More interested in the CEU opportunities? Check out these sessions specifically designed for captioners.

Kelly Linkowsi, RPR, CRR, CRC, CPE, a broadcast captioner from Rittman, Ohio, and Becky Tallarico, RPR, CRR, CRC, a broadcast captioner based in Orefield, Pa., will be presenting a session titled “CART: Oh, the Places You Can Go!”

“We’re putting together a session for working CART writers. We all face a lot of different challenges on the job – from identifying 30 different speakers or more to how to find the prep material even when the conference purveyor isn’t being forthcoming. We have lots of tips and tricks, and we plan to invite the audience to offer their best ideas as well,” says Linkowski, who invites both those who are new to the field and those who have advanced skills to the session.

Captioners will also want to check out “Ethics: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” which will be presented by captioning veterans Deanna Baker, FAPR, RMR, and Heidi Thomas, RDR, CRR, CRC. Between the two of them, they have seen or heard of just about every situation. In addition to reviewing NCRA’s Captioners Code of Ethics, says Baker, “we will ask attendees to bring their scenarios to the session for all to discuss. Come prepared for this interactive session. We look forward to talking through your ethical dilemmas.”

 “No matter the season, there is always a sport that you will probably need to caption,” says Sandra Smith, RPR, a broadcast and CART captioner based in Escanaba, Mich., who will present “Captioning a Sporting Event 101: Baseball, Basketball, Football, and Hockey.”

“You will need to prep for the different sports, and I want to offer some tips and tricks on becoming familiar with the different terminology. In addition, I’ll share some do’s and don’ts for captioning the game and tips on how to pronounce some of the fun names we come across in sports. And, as time allows, I’ll answer questions from the audience.”

Interested in learning more about the sessions available at the 2019 NCRA Annual Convention & Expo? Visit NCRA.org/Convention for the full schedule or to register.

For information about sponsorship opportunities, contact Mary Petto, Senior Director of External Affairs at mpetto@ncra.org.

* Schedule subject to change

Come to Denver for great learning, great networking, and lots of fun!

What can videographers expect at the NCRA 2019 Convention & Expo this Aug. 15-18 in Denver, Colo.? Lots of networking, lots of learning, and lots of great fun! Don’t miss the opportunity for reconnecting with old friends and building your network with new ones – make sure to build your relationships at the Opening Reception, during scheduled coffee breaks, and share your experiences with colleagues old and new at the Saturday Awards Luncheon and Member Recognition Gala on Saturday night. People staying in the hotel block also get the chance to jump-start their days with breakfast with other attendees. In addition, you can attend several sessions specifically created for legal videographers, where you can pose your questions to experts in the field and learn from your colleagues. Or attend sessions designed for court reporters and firm owners to get a better sense of their needs and how you can build your business.

Haven’t registered yet? You still have time! Online registration is open through July 31.

More interested in the CEU opportunities? Check out these sessions for legal videographers.

Trial technology consultant Robb Helt will be presenting a session called “Preparing for the Realities of Presentation at Trial.” Mostly geared toward those who are integrating a video file with a transcript, Helt says he will be delving deep into the work of preparing for trial and how evidence gets presented.

“Preparation is the key to anything at a high level,” Helt says. “We will deep dive into exactly why digital reporting is crap and should be outlawed. This is from the perspective of a trial technology consultant who has seen more trials, mediations, and arbitrations than most lawyers in their lifetime. I will be discussing the trial presentation software, OnCue, and how it can be used by more than just trial techs.”

In addition, Marshall Fox, CLVS, will present “Mix It Up: A Look into Live Video Mixing Software.” He explains: “VMix video software is being used more and more by legal videographers for deposition work. We will show those who attend how to set up and use Vmix software in deposition settings. We will show how to capture video in different formats, how to set up picture in picture with multiple video sources, and how to use video conferencing.”

And don’t overlook “Cyber Security Incident & Cases: Protect Your Data!” presented by cybersecurity expert Matt Gonzalez, Ph.D. Gonzalez will explore our growing dependence on technology and refresh you on the latest in cyber security. “Your online presence is a responsibility, requiring awareness, compliance, and vigilance of your data,” says Gonzalez. “I’ll be sharing ways that you can keep yourself safe online, help you figure out who to trust, and what you can do to keep your data protected.”

Interested in learning more about the sessions available at the 2019 NCRA Annual Convention & Expo? Visit NCRA.org/Convention for the full schedule or to register.

For information about sponsorship opportunities, contact Mary Petto, Senior Director of External Affairs at mpetto@ncra.org.

* Schedule subject to change

Students: Find Education, Fun at the NCRA Convention & Expo

Students planning to attend the NCRA 2019 Convention & Expo this Aug. 15-18 in Denver, Colo., are in for a treat! In addition to getting a great deal on Convention, which is partially supported by donations from NCRA members, students will have access to a series of specialized sessions covering everything from language to getting out of school and into your first job.

Haven’t registered yet? You still have time! Online registration is open through July 31. Our special NCRA room rate at the Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center ends Friday, July 19.

This year’s convention will see the return of “Steno Speed Dating.” Attendees will have the chance to spend time with court reporting and captioning luminaries, including Amie First, RDR, CRR, CRC, CPE; Debbie Kriegshauser, FAPR, RMR, CRR, CLVS; Alan Peacock, RDR, CRR, CRC, FAPR; Lindsay Stoker, RPR, CRC; Jeffrey Weigl, RMR, CRR, CRC; and Doug Zweizig, RDR, CRR, among others.

“I’m excited to be moderating this session for the third time at the convention,” says Shaunise Day, who is a part of NCRA’s Student/Teacher Committee. “It was inspiring last year to meet some of the best in the profession as part of the Steno Speed Dating, and this year, I had the opportunity to reach out and learn more about 10 inspiring court reporters and captioners who should be role models for us all. They certainly opened my eyes to the many opportunities in this profession, and I hope that this year’s group will do the same for you.”

Darlene Williams, RPR, CMRS, will lead a session titled “You Want Me to Do What? I Didn’t Learn That in School,” which will focus on helping to fill in gaps where schools leave off in preparing students to begin their careers.

“We will also focus on how to spot transcript errors, sharpen proofreading skills, the importance of internet research and how to use it, how to effectively edit and then proofread a transcript, the importance of dictionary maintenance, knowing what CAT software can do for you, e.g., what common formatting changes different agencies may request and knowing how to make those modifications, etc.,” says Williams. “Being a court reporter involves commitment to details, and attendees will leave this seminar feeling confident, encouraged, and armed with the requisite skills to be successful right out of the gate.”

“We all know Code of Ethics lectures can be kind of boring at times but have you ever seen an ethics training played out?” asks Debbie Kriegshauser, FAPR, RMR, CRR, CLVS, an official reporter based in Dallas, Texas, who will be presenting “Good Reporter/Bad Reporter” with Melanie Humphrey-Sonntag, FAPR, RDR, RDR, CRR, CRC, a freelance court reporter based in St. Charles, Ill.  “Well, we have just what you need so you don’t make that next embarrassing ethical mistake. Come check us out and be ready for a laugh or two along the way!”

Last, but not least, plan to attend “Student Jeopardy,” a session jointly led by Kriegshauser and Phoebe Moorhead, RPR, CRR. “Come ready for a fun, interactive game – ‘Jeopardy’ style — where you will be quizzed on tricky spellings, some not-so-obvious homonyms, and some unusual courtroom scenarios,” says Moorhead, RPR, CRR, a freelancer based in North Ogden, Utah. “We’re looking forward to sharing our knowledge with you at Convention.”

Interested in learning more about the sessions available at the 2019 NCRA Annual Convention & Expo? Visit NCRA.org/Convention for the full schedule or to register.

Read more about the student sessions at Convention.

Read about students sharing their experiences at their first conventions.

For information about sponsorship opportunities, contact Mary Petto, Senior Director of External Affairs at mpetto@ncra.org.

* Schedule subject to change. Student seminars do not accrue Continuing Education Units (CEUs).

Working from home while parenting

Holly Smith with her sons

The benefits of working from home for some people are priceless. For example, a work-at-home situation can offer flexibility, a more casual surrounding, and more time with the family. But for work-at-home professionals with small children, the situation often means creating a balanced environment where both work and family receive the needed attention.

In a recent JCR Weekly question of the week, readers who work from home and have small children were asked to share insights into how they manage to create a successful balance between the two. The answers ranged from hiring child care or sending a child to camp, to cutting back on work, relying on friends and family for help, and employing the game Fortnite or turning on YouTube.

Holly Smith, an online student at Brown College of Court Reporting in Atlanta, Ga., has two sons, ages 2 and 6 years old. To help manage her studies and parenting duties, Smith said she typically works on her assignments or other tasks involving school while the boys are preoccupied. “My 6-year-old loves video games, and my 2-year-old is usually playing with trains and cars or coloring,” she said.

“It’s important to me that my kids don’t feel ignored. They will only be little once. Typically, I will pull my machine out and practice in small 15- to 30-minute increments so that I don’t get overwhelmed. That’s usually the amount of time that my kids will stay preoccupied until they need or want something,” she said. “If they do happen to interrupt me during class time, I end up just putting my machine to the side and tending to them or playing with them until I can get back to my machine. It’s definitely a juggling act, and when my husband is home, he tries to help and distract as much as possible. But if you want it bad enough — and I do — you have to make it work. My boys, as well as my husband, are my reason to push through. So it makes it all worth it and keeps my motivation alive,” she added.

Rowen Knight working in the home office his mother made him out of a cardboard box complete with an open source steno machine, sound mixer, TV remote, and calculator.

Mirabai Knight, RDR, CRC, CRR, a captioner from New York, N.Y., often works from home and has a son Rowan, who will be 3 years old in August. While she said that sometimes he “works” alongside her when she has an at-home assignment or when she is practicing on her machine, she has the help of her wife when it comes to keeping the little one busy.

“My wife stays home and watches our son while I caption. I usually work in the living room, so he’s often in the room with me, but fortunately my wife is able to keep him from interfering with my equipment, though he’s actually getting much better about respecting that himself these days,” Knight said.

Smith said her 6-year-old also often helps her when she is practicing by working on his reading. “I have had him read me some Dr. Seuss books previously. It’s a challenge with all of the silly words that Dr. Seuss uses. My son is also getting so good at reading that it’s difficult to keep up with him, so it’s a challenge. A part of our homework assignment is reading steno notes to be able to understand them just as well as we understand English words. So I will treat those steno notes like little stories and practice reading them to my boys,” she added.

Machines fascinate kids

Marabai Knight and her son, Rowen

“He loves playing with all my steno machines,” Knight said of her son. “He also knows how to get into ‘insert mode’ from ‘command mode’ in Vim, the text editor I use for much of my captioning, which makes me so proud! He always says, ‘I need to do some steno machine and computer work now! Let me work!’ And he knows where the R key is! I’m going to teach him steno as early as I possibly can.”

Likewise for Smith’s boys, said their mother, who noted that they are both also fascinated with her machine. “Sometimes I have to put my machine in a place in our apartment that they can’t get to just to keep them off of it, especially my 2-year-old. He knows how to turn it on and off. My 6-year-old has been interested in learning where the letters are and trying to write,” she said,

A flexible career that helps with parenting

Both Smith and Knight agree that a career in court reporting or captioning absolutely helps with parenting duties. For one, it allows parents the opportunity to spend more time at home with their children.

“That is one of the reasons I started looking into this career path,” Smith said. “I have been so indecisive with a career path that will allow me to be the mom I want to be to my boys, as well as allow the income potential that court reporting and captioning offers. I often feel like I won’t be good enough to make it. So the income and flexibility potential help push me to get back onto my machine when I’ve had a rough practice day and feel frustrated,” she said.

“It will open so many doors for my family that we wouldn’t be able to attain otherwise. My husband works so hard to provide for us, but while he makes good money, his job would never present the opportunities that court reporting can.”

Smith added that any money she can make once she enters the workforce will help with the family savings, as well as allow her husband to be home more often to spend time with the family. “We want to be able to take vacations together more often. We want to be able to retire at a reasonable age so that we can be the grandparents we want to be to our future grandchildren. I believe that this career choice is going to create a much better life for our family,” she said.

“Being able to work fewer hours with a fairly high hourly rate helps a lot. I’m the sole breadwinner for my family, so that let’s me be home with my son much more than if I’d had to work 40 hours a week,” Knight said. “Also I was able to take several months off and live on savings when he was born, which wouldn’t necessarily have been possible in a non-freelance job. And I can do some of my work from home. Being able to watch my kid eat breakfast while I remote caption international conferences has been such a joy,” she added.

Advice for other work-at-home parents

“It’s a battle in itself just choosing to open up your machine and spend time practicing, especially if you’re trying to be a full-time mom, keep your household chores up to date, spend time with your kids, and give your husband the attention he needs,” Smith said. “But you have to keep your eye on the prize. You have to focus on why you chose this field in the first place.

“Remember the possibilities that will open up to you. Those little people that are pulling on your arms and legs, interrupting your practicing and making you feel like you can’t do it, those are the same people that you have to do this for. Take your time. Close your machine and take a break when you’re feeling frustrated. Play with your kids for a little bit instead. Choose your battles, but don’t give up.”

And the best piece of advice Knight offers others: “Teach them steno!”

Once again, PAC your baskets

NCRA’s Government Relations Department is sponsoring its second Gift Basket Extravaganza to benefit the Association’s PAC (Political Action Committee). The first Extravaganza was held at NCRA’s 2018 Convention & Expo in New Orleans, La., and raised $1,905. Eleven states and NCRA participated in the fundraising event.

This year, NCRA’s Government Affairs Department is hoping even more states will join in the fun and showcase items unique to their states in beautifully displayed baskets. Last year, items ranged from bottles of wine, cheeses, various snacks, baked goods, Fiestaware, beach items, and more. NCRA’s basket featured Washington, D.C., memorabilia.

Here’s how the raffle works

Convention attendees who contribute to NCRA PAC will receive raffle tickets. Then, they will vote by putting their raffle tickets in the bowl for the basket they want to win. Lastly, a raffle will be held and the winner of the basket will be chosen at random.

Additionally, each state that contributes a gift basket will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win a free registration to the 2020 NCRA Leadership & Legislative Boot Camp. The free registration will be based on the basket that accumulates the highest number of raffle tickets—essentially, the basket with the biggest draw.

To date, the following state associations have committed to donating baskets to the fundraiser:

Alabama Court Reporters Association

Arizona Court Reporters Association

California Court Reporters Association

California Deposition Reporters Association

Colorado Court Reporters Association

Florida Court Reporters Association

Mississippi Court Reporters Association

Oklahoma Court Reporters Association

South Dakota Court Reporters Association

Tennessee Court Reporters Association

Utah Court Reporters Association

Virginia Court Reporters Association

West Virginia Shorthand Reporters Association

Wisconsin Court Reporters Association

“By contributing to the NCRA PAC, you have the direct power and influence to shape how the court reporting and captioning professions are represented at a federal level — that makes this year more important than ever,” wrote NCRA student member Shaunise Day from Oakland, Calif., in an invitation to participate she sent to state association leaders. Day serves on NCRA’s PAC board and is the contributor of last year’s winning basket. 

“NCRA has the unique opportunity to cultivate new alliances in the federal government and ensure that members of Congress, who know the importance of court reporters and captioners and who support the court reporting and captioning professions, stay in office,” she noted.

If you plan to submit a basket on behalf of your state, please be advised of the following:

  • Provide a description of your basket with all contents that are included.
  • Please note the total value of your basket and include it with your description.
  • You will be responsible for shipping or transporting your basket and its contents to the convention.

Be sure to stop by the NCRA Government Relations booth and support PAC with your donation. If you have any questions about the 2019 NCRA PAC Gift Basket Extravaganza, contact NCRA Director of State Government Relations, Jocelynn Moore at jmoore@ncra.org.

10 sessions to attend at the NCRA 2019 Convention & Expo

If you’re already planning to attend the NCRA 2019 Convention & Expo this Aug. 15-18 in Denver, Colo., you are in for a treat! We have a great time planned for all. The schedule has many opportunities for reconnecting with old friends and building your network with new ones, as well as many great learning opportunities.

Haven’t registered yet? You still have time! Online registration is open through July 31.

How Voice Writing Technology Works: Dispelling Myths and Explaining Facts
Tori Pittman, FAPR, RDR, CRI

“Voice writers use CAT software and produce transcripts in much the same way a steno writer does, just with a different input method,” says Tori Pittman, a freelance court reporter and agency owner based in Wake Forest, N.C., who has learned both steno machine and voice reporting systems. “They use macros and briefs and write realtime – and they have the same struggles a machine writer has when dealing with quiet speakers, interruptions, and overtalking. We’ll also discuss the certifications that voice writers may strive for and their general equivalence to steno certifications.

“What I would like my steno colleagues to come away with is an understanding that a voice writing court reporter is also a guardian of the record, performing the same function with a different input method, and that they can be an ally and not an adversary in the preservation of the record,” says Pittman.

Remote Reporting: In a Galaxy Far, Far Away
Judith Lehman, RMR, CRI

“Courts all across the United States are experiencing shortages – sometimes severe – in covering their courts of record,” says Judith Lehman, RMR, CRI, who works with RevoText. “I’ll talk about how the company I work with pairs court reporting talent and skills with cutting-edge technology to offer those courts the services they need – with no transcript backlog issues and no management difficulties, by harnessing efficiency, teamwork, and making time work for everyone.”

Knowledge at the Threshold of Reporting
Dominick Tursi and Joshua B. Edwards, RDR, CRR

“With today’s reporting shortage, it’s important that court reporting program graduates and novice reporters be immediately productive as they cross the threshold into their new career,” says Dom Tursi, an official court reporter who will be presenting a session with Joshua Edwards, RDR, CRR, a court reporter and captioner based in New York, N.Y. “We will be offering real-world knowledge to advanced students and new reporters and giving advice on what to expect on the job. We hope that this will create confidence and immediate employment value. We’ll cover depositions and transcripts, understanding court and captioning, defining colloquy, elements of reporting, and professionalism.”

Roundtable Discussion with Educators & Firm Owners
Kelly Moranz, CRI, and Darlene Williams, RPR, CMRS

“I’m looking forward to the roundtable discussion for educators and firm owners this year at convention,” says Kelly Moranz, CRI, a court reporting instructor in Parma, Ohio, who will be co-hosting the session with Darlene Williams, RPR, CMRS, a freelance court reporter based in New Castle, Del. “Getting educators and firm owners to work together will be essential. 

“We have two goals of this session,” adds Moranz. “First, for the firm owners to inform the educators on their experiences and needs when onboarding new reporters. Second, from the perspective of educators, this is an opportunity to share the program’s best practices and efforts to insure a positive transition from student to reporter.”

How to Teach an NCRA A to Z™ Program
Carolyn Ruiz Coronado, RPR

“If you’ve been worried about how to help our profession right now, I would love for you to come to a session to learn about NCRA’s A to Z Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program,” says Carolyn Ruiz Coronado, RPR, an official based in Houston, Texas. “This program has made it easy to show someone the basics of shorthand, and during my session, I’ll share the tools and strategies available, as well as tips to help you and your local court reporters create a successful program. The shortage is real and making our work life difficult. NCRA has made it easy for us to help others to try steno for free. Tell your friends you refuse to sit on the sidelines any longer and bring them to this session with you!”

Coaching Callie’s Climb, the Role of Professionals in the Internship Experience
Tambria (Tammy) Kelly, RPR, CRR; Jennifer Sati, RMR, CRR, CRC, CRI; and Callie Sajdera

“Have you ever wanted to mentor, coach, and encourage new professionals or students who intern with you?” asks Jennifer Sati, RMR, CRR, CRC, CRI, a broadcast captioner and court reporting instructor in Dayton, Minn. “It is such an important job to help our newbies successfully transition from school to the workplace, and we put together this session to help you make that happen.”

In this session involving real-life experience, you can witness the evolving roles of both student and professional, from the teaching process to internship and eventually moving into the workforce. 

 “If we genuinely want court reporters to be successful in our field, we must coach and mentor them to the best of our ability so that the future is secure,” adds Tammy Kelley, RPR, CRR, an official court reporter based in Denver, Colo., who will co-host the session with Sati and Callie Sajdera. “The newest reporters are the seeds we nurture today so that we have a thriving harvest of court reporting professionals in our future.”

A Guide to Social Media for Post-Millennials: What to Post, How to Post, Why to Post; including Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Tumblr
Lauren Lawrence, RPR, and Matthew Moss, RPR

“We’ll be sharing our approach to social media as a means of raising awarenesss of and advocating for our profession, some benefits and pitfalls to navigate, and offering a framework of principles for engaging successfully online,” says Matt Moss, RPR, of Denver, Colo., of the presentation he has collaborated on with Lauren Lawrence, RPR, of Kansas City, Mo. Check out the latest in online marketing techniques from these two up-and-comers in the business.

Cyber Security Incidents and Cases: Protect Your Data!
Matt Gonzalez, Ph.D.

NCRA is excited to have cyber security expert Matt Gonzalez, Ph.D., presenting at Convention. During his session, Gonzalez will explore our growing dependence on technology and refresh you on the latest in cyber security. “Your online presence is a responsibility, requiring awareness, compliance, and vigilance of your data,” says Gonzalez. “I’ll be sharing ways that you can keep yourself safe online, help you figure out who to trust, and what you can do to keep your data protected.”

There Is an Easier Way to Write That!
Johnny Jay Jackson

“I will be presenting regarding what I have learned the last two years in creating a new ‘light’ theory to teach my daughter, a Millennial,” says Johnny Jackson, founder of Stenovations. Jackson has been developing outlines for his daughter that lighten the burden on the reporter and shifts it to software.

 “I have created new training methods and software to facilitate learning steno, as well as thousands of lessons. Most of the seminar time will be spent sharing new concepts of developing steno outlines that are intuitive to write and easy to remember,” says Jackson. “No matter how knowledgeable or skilled a reporter, student or teacher, I believe those attending will learn a great deal — as I have, due to the thousands of hours I have put into this endeavor over the last two and a half years.”

When Life Gives You Lemons
Kristi Johnson

Let Kristi Johnson, a freelance court reporter from Rancho St. Margarita, Calif., share her journey from a near-death, life-changing incident to a successful court reporter and mother. “Coming back to school after the accident, I knew I had to make it as a court reporter, not just for myself, but for my son,” Johnson says. “Keeping a positive attitude was key, as was learning what I could control and what I couldn’t.” Her determination will inspire you no matter where you are in your life.

Interested in learning more about the sessions available at the 2019 NCRA
Annual Convention & Expo? Visit NCRA.org/Convention for the full schedule or to register.

For information about sponsorship opportunities, contact Mary Petto, Senior Director of External Affairs at mpetto@ncra.org.

* Schedule subject to change

A family affair turns into a CLVS story

By Andrea Kreutz

A Certified Legal Video Specialist has to be prepared for the unexpected at all times. Typically, these surprises include last-minute job scheduling, additional unexpected attendees, and rooms almost too small to fit our equipment in. And so, we prepare for hours and pack a backup for our backup in case our backup fails.

Even with all this preparation, the most experienced CLVS gets thrown a curveball on occasion. Such was the case recently when I was scheduled to record a car seat expert for a motor vehicle accident. The job assignment was out of town, so I left the office plenty early in hopes of having a calm setup. Twenty minutes from my destination, my phone rang, and I was informed that the deposition had been rescheduled for three hours later. No problem! After an extended Target field trip, I arrived and was ready to go before the attorneys arrived.

All was well until the witness appeared — with four small children in tow. Three of the children ran into the room while the fourth was sleeping and strapped to his mother’s back. We were on the record only a few minutes when the youngest awakened and popped his head over his mother’s shoulder to see what all the noise was about. I expected the attorneys to go off the record, but they continued.

At first, the toddlers were playing a handheld video game – and we politely and repeatedly asked the toddlers to turn the volume down. After 20 minutes, they progressed to a water fight. Thankfully, we did go off the record, and I was able to protect my equipment from the water.

The witness also used this opportunity to breastfeed the young boy. The next few hours included the toddlers almost knocking over the reporter’s laptop, successfully knocking over my backdrop, and multiple breastfeeding breaks. Thankfully, no children were hurt!

I was hopeful the last few hours would be uneventful as I could tell the attorneys were losing their patience. My feelings were confirmed when the youngest started to fuss again and in a brief discussion off the record, I was asked to “just zoom in on her face” while she breastfed him.

Insert stunned emoji. Wait, you want me to what? Blink. Blink. The witness was in agreement, we could continue. I zoomed in and said a silent prayer as I closely monitored the framing of the witness’s face on my screen. Everything went smoothly for about ten minutes. Picture a mother’s face up close as she testifies about the different aspects of car seat safety.

And then it happened: The hand of the little boy being fed popped into the shot and started patting his mother’s cheek. Then, he patted her other cheek and back to the first. I could not believe what was happening. Just when you think it can’t get worse, he calmly stuck his fingers in her mouth. This didn’t even phase this mother.

I learned through the course of the day that she has six children total. The oldest two were at school, and the youngest four were in this room. Applause to the joys of motherhood.

The deposition concluded within a few minutes, and both sides ordered a copy of the video. I breathed a huge sigh of relief. I had calmly and successfully delivered an excellent video and experience despite all the challenges. The reporter had hung in there with me and coincidentally had the last name of Nelson. We now refer to this character-building experience as the “Baby Hands Nelson deposition.”

Andrea Kreutz, CLVS, is an agency owner based in Des Moines, Iowa. She can be reached at andreak@huneyvaughn.com.

Court reporting program open house coming to Oak Forest

Patch.com reported on July 11 that the South Suburban College (SSC), Oak Forest, Ill., is hosting a court reporting open house on July 25 to showcase the profession and the school’s program.

Read more.

Court reporter shortage in San Mateo County, Calif.

The Daily Journal, San Mateo County, Calif., reported on July 12 that due to a severe court reporter shortage, the county’s Superior Court will no longer provide official court reporters for certain court proceedings as it actively seeks to expand its court reporter resources.

Read more.