Philly judges discuss language access following study of court reporters

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on June 5 that at a recent closed event for Philly judges to workshop issues of miscomprehension of African American English brought up by a recent study, the final consensus was that it is a lawyer’s task to have a command of what their client is actually saying.

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What’s next in the future of depositions?

On June 5, JD Supra posted a blog about how rapid changes to the legal profession will begin to impact the future of depositions.

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NCRA member wins spot in 2019 National Small Business Week contest

Balboa Capital, a leading lender that specializes in small business loans and equipment leasing, announced in a press release issued June 6 that NCRA member Diane Emery, CMRS, founder of Executive Reporting Service, headquartered in St. Petersburg, Fla., was awarded $500 as a runner-up winner in its 2019 National Small Business Week contest.

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Aunt Jill’s hot fudge sauce

Recipe from Lynette Mueller

Aunt Jill's hot fudge sauce
Aunt Jill’s hot fudge sauce

Leaving a lasting impact on the profession through NCRF’s Legacy Society

Debra Cheyne providing realtime in Judge Kenneth Stewart’s courtroom during the documentary film, On the Record.

Leaving a legacy lets us be sure that we can have a continuing impact on the future of what matters to us most for generations to come. The National Court Reporters Foundation Legacy Society is a way for NCRA members to give back to the court reporting and captioning professions by naming the philanthropic arm of the National Court Reporters Association as a beneficiary in their estate planning. Choosing to be part of the NCRF Legacy Society ensures a donor that their commitment to supporting the future of the profession will continue well after they are gone.

The impetus for the NCRF Legacy Society followed a donation made by NCRA member and past president Rachel Lerschen, FAPR, RMR, a freelance court reporter from Bloomington, Minn., who passed away in 1996. Prior to her death, Lerschen arranged for a contribution to the Foundation in her will and, thus, became the first donor through her estate planning.

Today, more than a dozen NCRA members have included the Legacy Society as part of their estate planning. Most recently, NCRA member and NCRF Trustee Debra Cheyne, MA, CSR, a captioner from Sherwood, Ore., who is also certified in Washington, was the most recent NCRA member to make a provision in her estate planning to benefit the Legacy Society.

“I first learned about the Legacy Society when reading the JCR magazine, and I noticed a page dedicated to a colleague’s legacy provision,” said Cheyne, who has worked as a realtime captioner for 25 years.

“I, like most people, want to leave the world a better place for having been given the gift of life. The National Court Reporters Foundation’s philanthropic programs make our world a better place. Becoming a member of the Legacy Society helps ensure the next generation of court reporters will have the support through scholar-ships and grants to succeed in continuing our role as verbatim guardians of the record.”

Cheyne said that she believes that one of the greatest values of the Legacy Society is providing role models of good leadership, service above self, and promoting the professional of the future.

Donations to NCRF through the Legacy Society or any other estate planning program can be designated as a specific amount or a percentage, either through a final will or an insurance policy. Including charitable donations in a final will can also offer the giver a number of benefits, such as protecting their assets by controlling where they will go, reducing estate taxes, and avoiding capital gains taxes. Donations to NCRF can take the form of the following:

■Outright Gifts: Outright gifts can be used immediately. A gift of appreciated stock or mutual fund shares can be particularly advantageous from a tax standpoint since capital gains tax is avoided.

■Bequests: A bequest to NCRF’s Legacy Society in a will allows a person to leave a particular asset, a percentage of an estate, or a portion of assets remaining after other specific bequests for family members have been made. A bequest to NCRF’s Legacy Society is fully deductible for estate tax purposes.

■Life Insurance: Naming NCRF as the beneficiary of all or a portion of a life insurance policy is another option. Amounts left to NCRF are fully deductible for estate tax purposes.

Supporting NCRF through its Legacy Society or any of its other giving programs also supports several goals in the Foundation’s strategic plan. Among those goals are building and operating a sustainable organization that can continue to collect and preserve the history of the profession, increasing annual funding to create and grow new programs that advance the court reporting and captioning professions, increasing funding for the expansion of NCRA’s A to ZTM Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program, and increasing the amount of financial assistance awards such as scholarships and grants given over the next several years.

“My court reporting career nurtures a lifelong curiosity to continually learn; every day there’s a different and unique ‘topic,’” said Cheyne. “As an officer of the court, our certification requires that we be unbiased. Standing (but usually sitting!) in the middle, hearing ‘both sides,’ promulgates a broader world view, increases tolerance and understanding. My court reporting profession has taught me the value of walking a mile in another’s shoes.”

Cheyne, along with and her late husband, attorney Jeffrey McCauley Cheyne, have also supported NCRF as Major Gift and NCRF Angel donors.

“Giving back to a profession that’s been so good to me not only helps others, it also provides tangible and positive effects on the future. In college, I was re-quired to take Theology. One concept from that study that’s stuck with me is bodhisattva: You reach one hand up for help and one hand down to help others,” added Cheyne. If you would like information on how to leave a lasting legacy and become a member of NCRF’s Legacy Society, contact Mary Petto, deputy director of NCRF, at 800-272-6272, ext. 122, or by email at mpetto@ncra.org

Viola Lundberg Stafford remembered

Viola Lundberg Stafford passed away May 23, 2019, at the Medical Center of Aurora, Colo. 

Stafford was an active member of both NCRA and Colorado Shorthand Reporters Association (CSRA) for many years. Her membership at NCRA began in November 1969, and she was a member for at least 30 consecutive years before retiring from practicing as a verbatim stenographic reporter. She then became a Lifetime Retired Member. Her tenure at NCRA included earning the Certificate of Merit, the symbol of a court reporter who took her craft seriously and proudly. Her service at CSRA as treasurer and chief examiner spoke volumes of her dedication to the profession – she was involved, passionate, and committed.

Shining a light on NCRA members

Isaiah Roberts, RPR

There’s no doubt about it: NCRA members take on some exciting, fascinating, and downright inspiring work. At the beginning of June, NCRA launched a new Web page as part of NCRA.org and our NCRA 2.0 effort to capture some of these stories highlighting our members. Recent additions to the site include Isaiah Roberts, RPR, and Stan Sakai, CRC, and their work captioning Coachella; Lisa Migliore Black’s experience with a Project Innocence death row case; and the fun of being court reporters on film from Helga Lavan, RPR, and Kate Cochran, RPR.

The purpose of the page is to shine a light on all NCRA members – court reporters, captioners, legal videographers, scopists, proofreaders, teachers, and everyone else – who have an inspiring story to share with other members. Too often, people in this profession are noticed only when there is a mistake, and the high standards you hold yourselves to may some days feel self-defeating. Let these stories remind you of the many great opportunities these professions offer. Whenever you need a reminder of all the cool things that you can do with your skill set, please take a look.

And if you happen to have a story about a great experience of your own, please share it with us at pr@ncra.org.  The great stories you offer about your work can be help more people understand how exciting and important your work is. NCRA will consider all submissions for one of NCRA’s publications or possible use on a promotion website maintained by NCRA.  

Sharing steno in Taiwan

By Logan Kislingbury

Logan Kislingbury

In late May, I had the pleasure of introducing stenography to a class of freshmen students of sociology at Fu Jen University in Taiwan. I was vacationing there when a good friend of mine, who is a professor at the university, invited me to teach one of her classes about stenography and my life as a court reporting student.

The students had never heard of stenography or seen a steno machine before, and the curiosity on their faces was showing. I started out by explaining why we use steno machines, which is to capture the spoken word and accurately transcribe it. To do this at high speeds, writing one letter at a time, such as on a QWERTY keyboard, wouldn’t be possible.

I opened my CAT software and overlaid my live stroke monitor on the screen. This is a Lightspeed feature that shows a live view of your keys, which change color when pressed. I showed how the keyboard had multiples of certain letters such as S, D, and R, and lacked other letters, like Q or M. I explained how we use multiple keys to write letters that the machine is missing.

Then, I wrote some basic sentences, and the students were enthused by how entire words could come up instantly. I then showed them phrases such as at that time, do you remember, and would you agree. They now understood how we can keep up with speakers by writing entire words and phrases instantly.

Next, I wanted to show off the upper limits of briefing and phrasing. I showed them the popular phrase “ladies and gentlemen of the jury” in one stroke. For the coup de grâce, I asked who knew the longest English word. To my surprise, one girl actually knew it and pronounced it well. I asked the class to guess how long it would take me to write this word. After seeing my previous demonstrations, they knew it would be fast. Some guessed 5, 10, 15 seconds. I quickly stroked my way of writing pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis, which is NAOUM/NAOUM. In less than half a second, the longest English word popped up on the screen to the amusement of the students.

Lastly, I wanted to show the students how we aren’t limited to only writing words we know. My Chinese skills are very limited, but I asked for a volunteer to slowly speak Chinese to me for about 15 seconds. I sounded out what I heard as best as I could and read back from my steno notes. Apart from the tones, I read back nearly exactly what the student had said. I understood less than half of it, but apparently I did well because the class burst into a surprised applause.

After I was finished, students came up to look at the machine and ask some questions about steno. I couldn’t believe how interested they were! It was such a wonderful experience to show them, and maybe they’ll be able to work with steno in the future. 

Logan Kislingbury is a court reporting student attending the Mark Kislingbury Academy of Court Reporting in Houston, Texas. He can be reached at logankislingbury@gmail.com.

2019 class of Fellows of the Academy of Professional Reporters announced

NCRA has announced the 2019 class of Fellows of the Academy of Professional Reporters. The recipients will be recognized during an Awards Luncheon at the 2019 NCRA Convention & Expo in Denver, Colo., being held Aug. 15-18.

The 2019 class of Fellows are:

Susan M. Horak, RDR, CRR, an official court reporter from Columbus, Ohio, and Marjorie Peters, RMR, CRR, a freelance court reporter and firm owner from Pittsburgh, Pa.

Horak began her career in 1976 and worked as an official court reporter for the Franklin County Municipal Court in Columbus Ohio, from 1983 to 2017. As a member of the Ohio Court Reporters Association (OCRA), she contributed numerous articles to the membership publication, The Buckeye Record, and worked on key legislative issues, including modernizing the language in Ohio’s Revised and Administrative Codes regarding court reporters. Horak also held several positions at OCRA, including serving as District C Representative (2006-2008), Secretary-Treasurer (2008-2010), and President (2010-2011). She joined NCRA in 1976, serving for many years as a Chief Examiner for NCRA testing in central Ohio. Horak currently serves on NCRA’s Skills Writing Test Committee and the Proofreading Advisory Council.

Marjorie Peters

Peters and her firm cover complex realtime and various types of litigation, large and small. Beginning in 1999, she joined the Pennsylvania Court Reporters Association’s (PCRA) Board of Directors as a district representative and has served on numerous committees. She also has been a continuous supporter of the Community College of Allegheny County Court Reporting program. Peters has been a member of NCRA since 1991 and has served on several of the Association’s committees. She currently serves on the Education Content Committee.

Membership in the Academy symbolizes excellence among NCRA members. The designation of FAPR represents an individual’s dedication to the court reporting and captioning professions and expresses the highest level of professional ethics.

To be nominated for membership in the Academy, candidates must be a Registered Member of NCRA with at least 10 years of professional experience and have attained distinction as measured by performance in at least three of the five performance categories. This performance could include publication of important papers, creative contributions, service on committees or boards, teaching, and more.

Reminder: Membership dues increase proposed for 2020

At its August 2018 meeting, NCRA’s Board of Directors voted to put forward a proposal to raise membership dues, which members can vote on at the Annual Business Meeting. The Board noted a dues increase is critical to maintain and grow the services provided to NCRA members and to continue the Association’s efforts to advance and advocate for the professions.

The Board of Directors recommended that reporter dues be raised to $300 for Registered and Participating members and to $179 for Associate members. Student dues will be raised to $55. (The chart below shows the proposed changes for additional groups.) Members who opted to become Lifetime retired members before Dec. 31, 2017, and those who were granted honorary status will continue to pay no dues.

The proposed amounts take into account the various parameters put in place on dues for certain membership categories by the Constitution & Bylaws. Dues for NCRA membership last increased in 2016.

To go into effect for the 2020 year, the Board’s recommendation must be approved by a majority of the voting members present at the NCRA Annual Business Meeting that will be held in conjunction with the 2019 NCRA Convention & Expo in Denver, Colo., Aug. 15-18.

Proposed Dues Increase for 2020

Seven Bylaws amendments to be voted on following Annual Business Meeting