Pointers for taking depositions by videoconference during COVID-19

An article offering tips for taking depositions by videoconference during the COVID-19 pandemic was posted on March 30 by North Carolina Lawyers Weekly.

Read more.

New Professional Profile: Hailey Treasure

Hailey Treasure, RPR

By Michael Hensley

Hailey Treasure, RPR, is a new reporter within her first year of her career, providing services in the Chicago, Ill., area. During her schooling at MacCormac College in Chicago, she set a strong example to other students of what it takes to persevere and reach your goal of becoming a court reporter. When she’s not busy as a court reporter, she spends time with her new puppy, Murphy. Treasure took a moment of her time to share with us some thoughts as a new professional:

JCR | Why did you choose to become a court reporter?

HT | I chose to become a court reporter when I was in my junior year of high school and had no idea what I wanted to do after graduation. I babysat for a family whose mom was a freelance court reporter. She would often talk to me about what a good career court reporting is and all the different opportunities this profession has to offer. After doing some research, I knew right away that becoming a court reporter was my dream career.

JCR | What was the hardest part of transitioning from school to the real world?
HT | The hardest part about transitioning from school to the real world for me was getting over my nerves. There are so many real-life situations that can arise during a job that you have never heard of or talked about in school, and it can be very easy to get nervous and panic. I quickly learned how to walk into a job with confidence, and I try to handle any and all situations that may arise with confidence and professionalism.

JCR | What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you first started out?
HT | What I wish I would have known when I first started out was that attorneys aren’t as scary as you might think they are when you are a young and a brand-new court reporter. Never be afraid to ask questions before the job, on breaks, or after the job. Asking questions will only make your job easier when you are working on the transcript, and 99 percent of the time attorneys are more than happy to answer your questions and do whatever they can to help. I think this goes hand-in-hand with getting over those nerves and having confidence.

JCR | Do you have a mentor? If so, who?
HT | I have two amazing mentors that have taught me so much and helped me so much. My first great mentor is now my boss, Debbie Bridges Duffy, RPR, who is the owner of Bridges Court Reporting in Chicago. When I was still a student, Debbie would let me go out and job shadow her reporters and then would also edit my transcripts from job shadowing to try and start teaching me as much as she could. Debbie was very invested in me as a student and especially now as a new reporter. She really takes time out to help you be the best reporter you can be and helps teach you as much as she can. Another amazing mentor that I have is Valerie Calabria, RPR. I met Val through Debbie when I started job shadowing at Bridges Court Reporting. Val has taken so much of her own time and invested it into helping me, whether it was the extra push or the words of encouragement she gave me while I was getting ready to take my RPR; also, proofreading the very first transcripts I produced as a working reporter or sitting down with me and going through my personal dictionary to help me become a better writer. Val is always happy to take a call, text, or email to help me out whenever I have any questions. Debbie and Val have tremendously helped me as a new reporter, and I am so very thankful for them both. They have taught me so much and helped me out in more ways than they know.

JCR | What do you love about your career?
HT | I love so much about my career. I love being in a new place with new people every single day. I love that no two days are ever the same. I love how much I learn while working. I also love my friends always telling me, “Your job is so cool.” I love the freedom to take days off when needed but also being able to work as much as I want. This really is a dream career for me.

JCR | How has involvement with state and national reporting associations benefited your career thus far?
HT | State and national reporting associations have greatly benefited my career thus far. While I was still a student at MacCormac College, I was fortunate enough to have the school fly me out to the NCRA convention in Las Vegas. Although I was still a student, it was a great experience and really motivated me to finish school as fast as I could. I have also attended an Illinois Court Reporters Association convention, and I was able to hear so many amazing professionals speak about court reporting. I am looking forward to attending more conventions as a working reporter and seeing all the ways it can help to benefit my career.

JCR | What was the best piece of advice you received from another court reporter?
HT | The best piece of advice I have received from another court reporter was before my very first deposition. I was extremely nervous, and the advice that was given was: “You can do this. Be confident, and nobody in that room other than you knows that this is your first deposition.” That calmed me so much and has helped me as a new reporter. Nobody knows if it’s your first deposition, your first month working, your first year working, or your first time in court. If you present yourself as confident and professional, nobody will ever know it’s your first time other than you.

Mike Hensley, RDR, is a freelancer from Dublin, Calif. He can be reached at stenomph@gmail.com.

Seen on social media: Handling those remote depos

Dineen Squillante points her camera at her hands while taking remote depositions.

Dineen Squillante, RPR, a freelancer in Arlington, Vt., recently shared these guidelines that she is following this week while virtual reporting.

As we head out into the virtual world of depositions this week, I wanted to share some things that I am now incorporating. It is completely fine if you do things differently. I share to generate thought and/or discussion if you want to. I have been asked by my clients to record depos through Zoom “in case” they want it. The answer is no. After getting the help of NCRA President-elect Christine Phipps, RPR, owner of Phipps Reporting Inc., my gut feeling has been solidified and it’s a hard pass for me. And here’s what I told my client on Friday after my first answer to them was too soft and they came back insisting, and this will be my standard response going forward:

  1. “I will not be recording our deposition through Zoom. My job here is to take down the written record. My duties do not include ensuring that the vid/aud will be usable at a later date. It is not part of my responsibility as your stenographer to edit out any inappropriate or off-the-record content or make it usable and I won’t be doing it. If you want to preserve a vid/aud of this deposition, I suggest you hire a professional videographer.”

And that was the end of the discussion.

2. In the past, I always hid myself on the screen. Going forward, I am going to point my camera on my hands. One, so they know I’m an actual stenographer. Two, I will tell them if my hands are not on the machine, we are not on the record.

3. As my clients start to book more and more Zoom depos, I made a personal decision that after today, I will not take any deposition where the witness is not in a state where I hold a valid Notary or license. I will gladly locate a valid Notary/stenographer to handle their deposition in the state where the witness resides and pass the day over to a colleague.

NCRA member gives back through nonprofit captioning organization

NCRA member Lois Boyle, RMR, owner of Boyle Reporting & Captioning Services in Newport News, Va., is also founder and executive director of Access Virginia, a nonprofit organization she created to provide open captioning and audio description at live theatrical performances. Through Access Virginia, members of the deaf and hard-of-hearing community and the visually impaired can attend performances and experience the wonder of live entertainment at public facilities. In addition to her professional career, running a business and a nonprofit, Boyle also finds time to volunteer at local school career days to help introduce students to the benefits of a career in court reporting or captioning. The JCR recently caught up with Boyle to learn more about what motivates her.

JCR | What prompted you to start Access Virginia, and when did you begin offering services?

LB | I established Access Virginia in 2014 to provide open captioning and CART at the performing arts theater for persons with hearing loss. I was prompted to start a non-profit organization so that anyone with a hearing loss could attend live theater and to ensure no person with this disability was treated any differently than anyone else.

I learned how to caption for theater in 2010 at the request of one client who lost her hearing profoundly at age 30, who loved the arts, had a degree in music, but had been locked out of the theater for 20 years because of lack of accommodation. She did not know ASL, which is what the venues offered for persons with hearing loss and that was upon request. Once I provided it for one person and the word spread, there was a demand for it, and I was contracted by the theater to provide the service for its Broadway series. In addition, Access Virginia has expanded to offer services of audio description for the blind/vision loss community because of their desire to be included and attend events after hearing about the accommodations offered to the hearing loss community. 

JCR | Does the organization provide services throughout Virginia or just in your region?

LB | Access Virginia provides services in the Hampton Roads region, and we have had requests to provide our services beyond Hampton Roads.

JCR | Are there plans to expand the area you provide services to? 

LB | Yes. We have provided services as far as Abingdon, Va., at Barter Theater. 

JCR | How do you fundraise to help support the organization?

LB | We fundraise through grants from city arts commissions, public donations, personal pledges, local entities such as the sheriff’s office and civic groups, churches and foundations, and online fundraising. We also have an annual awareness and fundraising gala.

JCR | How has the response been from those you assist?

LB | The response from individuals who need such accommodations has been the driving force to continue to provide and advocate for such services. Testimonials have been: “I feel like a little girl again,” “You’re an angel,” “I saw Les Misérables four times, and this is the first time I’ve been able to enjoy the show because of captions.”

JCR | Do you have your own venue, or do you provide programing in various public places?

LB | We provide the services at four main venues in the Hampton Roads region: Chrysler Hall and Wells Theater in Norfolk, Ferguson Center for the Arts, and Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center in Newport News. We have provided our services at other local theaters but currently contract with these four.

JCR | How did you recruit your board members and staff?

LB | We recruit board members who have a connection to persons with disabilities or have expertise in the field because they can appreciate our cause and the necessity for it. We also have board members who have sensory disabilities.

JCR | Do you rely on all volunteer time to support this effort?

LB | We do have great volunteers and rely on them. We reach out to local colleges and volunteer organizations for support. But we do pay our service providers because of the amount of work/time it takes to prepare a script and for the use of their equipment. We have four court reporters who open caption with us. Though the plays are scripted and formatted, we do use our real-time skillset to caption live pre- and post-show announcements and in-theater workshops.

JCR | How do you advertise?

LB | We advertise on our website: accessvirginia.info, on social media – mainly Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. We have a newsletter that goes out once a month with the upcoming shows, fliers at various locations, presentations at civic clubs, and, of course, word of mouth.

JCR | Do you have specific partner organizations you work with? 

LB | Yes, we partner with Virginia Stage Company in Norfolk to conduct drama workshops for the deaf and hard of hearing, as well as Dramatically Able, which is a sensory theater program for students with vision loss. We also partner with Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center to conduct Dramatically Able II in Newport News.

JCR | How is Access Virginia dealing with the current coronavirus situation? I’m sure there have been cancellations for programs. Are you able to offer remote services? If so, can you share more about that?

LB | Unfortunately, all programs have been suspended at the venues, so we are not operating at this time. We are brainstorming ways to keep connected. Fortunately, the shows have been postponed and will be rescheduled. I have not had a request for remote services.

JCR | Please add any additional information you would like included in the article.

LB | Court reporting has afforded me a good way of life. It gave me the flexibility I needed when raising my children and is a portable profession when my husband was in the military. I am grateful for its evolution in technology. At this point in my life, I don’t want to just make a living; I’m compelled to make a difference. And using my skillset, I have set out to do just that.

JCR | Finally, a bit about you personally: How did you learn about the court reporting and captioning profession?

LB | I learned about court reporting wayyyyy back when I was in my 12th grade year in high school. We had a career day, and I had no clue what I wanted to pursue. My teacher suggested I go down to the local courthouse and interview a court reporter. I was pretty good at typing – back then on a typewriter, won many speed contests, was good at Gregg shorthand, and my teacher thought court reporting might interest me. Well, I found it fascinating and pursued it.  That’s why I believe it’s important to reach out to the high schools and colleges and present on the profession because of my own personal experience.

My experience with CART began in 2001 when I returned from living overseas for four years where I had taken a hiatus from reporting. On my first day walking into the office where I was hired, I was met by a young man who had just lost his CART provider and was desperately looking for a provider as he was a graduate student at a local university. I did not write real-time nor did I own a laptop at that time as I was just getting back into the profession. But the disappointment on his face left a lasting impression on me. We directed him to where he could find a CART provider and fortunately, he found one. I began researching CART and began to build my skillset. Three years later, the opportunity presented itself. Though I felt my writing was not adequate, I still accepted the request and did it pro bono for a local HLAA chapter meeting. They were so grateful and appreciative. Though I cringed at my glaring mistranslates, they asked me if I would provide CART again, with pay, so that gave me the courage to continue.

JCR | Where did you go to court reporting school? 

LB | Hagerstown Business College, Hagerstown, Md. I started court reporting in criminal court in Miami, Fla., and after five years I started reporting in civil court and doing depositions and years later branched off into doing CART/captioning.

JCR | What has been the greatest reward for you in terms of this as a career?

LB | By far it is providing CART for the hearing impaired. I have never had an attorney cry with gratitude for my services. 

JCR | What is the greatest reward for you with regard to founding Access Virginia?

LB | The ability to make an impact in my local community. CART/captioning is very much needed and is not always affordable to those who need it. The service has the ability to change a person’s enjoyment of life with access to those things we in the hearing world take for granted, i.e., simply walking up to a ticket booth, purchasing a ticket to a show and attending a live theater performance. Persons who are deaf or have a profound hearing loss cannot simply do that and really enjoy a show. Access Virginia has in some measure turned isolation into inclusion and silence into sound. We make entertainment come alive. 

One ‘small’ step for Career Launcher, one giant leap for new professionals

By Debbie Dibble and Mike Miller

It’s been a yearlong labor of love for the Career Launcher team since soft launching their iconic rocket logo and program highlights at the NCRA Convention & Expo in Denver. A small group of court reporters, captioners, videographers, and other supporters have spent countless hours since early spring 2019 brainstorming, researching, creating, and troubleshooting the 10 short-form deposition modules that will make up the online training curriculum. But the next big undertaking, once everything got scripted out, was to travel to Seattle, Wash., in early March to get the modules on video. 

The five team members, Kevin R. Hunt of Buffalo, N.Y; Lisa Knight, FAPR, RDR, CRR, of Littleton, Colo.; Merilee Johnson, RDR, CRR, CRC, of Eden Prairie, Minn.; and the two of us have spent months of weekend and evening time on Zoom calls fine-tuning each module, squeezing  as much industry know-how and professional pointers into a new program that will not only be a virtual mentorship for new professionals but also an actual hands-on training program to expose those embarking on their careers to many of the situations they will encounter in the freelance deposition world. As the employment model for freelance reporters has shifted away from local firms with in-house reporters to a more decentralized, nationwide model, the access to one-on-one mentoring by a peer at the next desk has almost vanished. The team’s goal has been to create a 10-module master class on the everyday elements of depositions, such as videotaped and interpreted proceedings, odd patent and medical terms, confidential designations, hearings, on-the-record/off-the-record disputes, witnesses taking exhibits, and so much more!

Ever since that first paragraph, some of you have been asking yourselves, “March 2020? Seattle? Are you nuts?” The short answer is unfortunately, “Yep.” Many months before, when the team all agreed to get together with videographer extraordinaire Johnny Reidt in the Pacific Northwest to shoot all the modules, coronavirus hadn’t even been discovered. As the shooting schedule loomed closer and closer, Seattle became ground zero for COVID-19.  With the team’s busy schedules and the August launch date set in stone, this was the only chance to get the videos completed. We stocked up on hand sanitizer and boarded planes from across the country to keep the project on schedule, ignoring speculation about potential diminished mental capacity on our part. 

When a wrinkle developed at 9 p.m. the night before, Ron Cook, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, of Redmond, Wash., and his wife, Lisa, came to the rescue. Ron was working on a trial in Los Angeles, Calif., that Thursday night when he received the call, and after pondering every possible solution, he got coverage for his trial on Friday, jumped on a plane, came straight to the working team dinner, got up to speed on the project, and started filming with the team Saturday morning at 7 a.m. He stayed at the shoot until the very last minute possible, almost missing his flight back to Los Angeles on Sunday to continue the trial on Monday. 

The Career Launcher shoot was hosted by Lisa Buell, RPR, CRR, and Buell Realtime Reporting, LLC, for two-and-a-half days, where the team completely took over the entire office as studio space, video production areas, and dressing rooms. Lisa completely rearranged everything, from schedules to furniture, to facilitate the team’s needs. As with everything else on this project that originally seemed simple and easy, complications with the shoot turned the expected eight-hour days into pizza deliveries at 10 p.m. At the end of the Saturday shoot, no one believed we could get it done and still be on our flights home Monday morning, but Kim Dore-Hackbarth, RPR, and Tia Reidt, RPR, two local Washington reporters, worked right alongside the team, running cameras, picking up food, and, most importantly, offering moral support. When we needed extras to be receptionists, Kim and Lisa Cook stepped up like champs. When we needed someone to be the scorned wife of a cheating husband for the divorce deposition, Kim’s portrayal of Barbara Rose was spot on. The best part, when the shooting finally finished up late Sunday night, Lisa Buell had laid in a supply of red and white wine for the ensuing celebration by the cast and crew.

The modules are now in final production as Johnny has cleared an entire week to devote himself to editing and perfecting the 10 training modules, and the team could not be more grateful. From the preliminary shots we’ve seen, Johnny is a masterful editor. Shots that we remember taking seven or eight takes of flubbed lines and lighting issues look like a $100 million Hollywood movie. If you ever have the pleasure of working with Johnny as your videographer, tell him thanks for all court reporters everywhere.

The team spent several days following our return recovering from the stress and exhaustion of the intense weekend, but we are now energizing and gearing back up for the next steps, alpha and beta testing, and organizing the procedures by which the mock depositions turned in by the new professionals will be evaluated by experienced reporters, with an eye toward the official launch later this year!  

A huge thank you to all that have sacrificed blood, sweat, and tears (and exposure to a pandemic) for this project and to all of you who are supporting it in the wings, waiting for this great new NCRF resource to advance our profession and get new reporters out on jobs more quickly, armed with the advantage of invaluable knowledge from seasoned professionals.

Debbie Dibble, RDR, CRR, CRC, is a freelancer and captioner based in Salt Lake City, Utah, as well as NCRA’s Vice President. In addition to the NCRA certifications listed above, she has earned NCRA’s Realtime System Administrator certification and the state certified shorthand reporter credentials for Utah, California, Nevada, and Texas. She can be reached at ddib06@gmail.com.

Mike Miller, FAPR, RDR, CRR, is a freelance reporter based in Houston, Texas. In addition to the NCRA certifications listed above, he has earned NCRA’s Realtime System Administrator certification and the state certified shorthand reporter credentials for Texas, California, and Louisiana. He can be reached at mike@depoman.com.

How the Federal stimulus bill affects the court reporting and captioning industry

This is important information regarding the Federal stimulus bill for NCRA members who are independent contractors (i.e. freelancers) in the reporting and captioning industry, as well as legal videographers, scopists, and others in our industry. NCRA’s Government Relations department has been actively following all bills and is working to make sure that our freelance community is heard. Special thanks to NCRA’s lobbyist, Jocelynn Moore, for pulling a lot of this together. We understand the impact of this bill on all of us and want to try and give you timely updates.

As with everything COVID-19, things are changing hourly. There is a call to action for you at the end of this communication to push this across the finish line, so PLEASE read the entire message. I apologize that this is long, but this is crucial information for you and your business.

On Wednesday night, the U.S. Senate passed a $2 trillion stimulus package (96-0 for passage) that included many things that will help the average American survive the pandemic we are currently experiencing. The 880-page piece of legislation included many things to help employers, employees, and independent contractors. We will give you a high-level analysis of this massive bill, but we will be working over the next weeks to dive into it and give you direction on where you can seek assistance. Please understand that this is not legal or employment advice but simply guidance. Your professional Association is trying to provide you with the direction to apply for assistance, if needed. We will continue to provide information, links, and analysis as funding and opportunities present themselves. This is exactly why being a member is important and what NCRA is here for.

Here are some bullet points regarding the passed Senate bill.

H.R. 748, Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act

  • This is the $2 trillion Coronavirus Relief package.
  • It was passed by the Senate on March 25, 2020, by a 96-0 vote, and heads to the House for a voice-vote to be held tomorrow, Friday, March 27, 2020.
  • Upon passage by the House and signature by the President, the bill will be enacted into law.
  • The bill, as passed by the Senate, contains provisions to provide financial assistance to American adults, extension of the unemployment insurance program for laid-off workers, and loans for small businesses impacted by coronavirus, among other provisions. The relevant provisions pertinent to court reporters and captioners are detailed below.

Title 1 – Keeping American Workers Paid and Employed Act

Provision: Sec. 1102. Paycheck Protection Program.(Small Business Loans)

Purpose: This is emergency assistance from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Department of Treasury, which provides $350 billion in funding for a provision to create a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The PPP provides small businesses and other entities with zero-fee loans of up to $10 million dollars. This emergency assistance can be used in conjunction with other COVID-19 assistance established by Congress or another SBA loan program.

Individuals Eligible for Relief:

  • Small Businesses, 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations, 501(c)(19) veteran’s organizations, or tribal businesses with fewer than 500 employees.
  • Sole proprietors
  • Independent contractors
  • Self-employed individuals
  • Businesses with more than one physical location, so long as no more than 500 employees are employed in each location.

Description of Relief:

  • The maximum loan amount that may be borrowed will be $10 million dollars with a maximum interest rate of 4 percent through December 31, 2020.
  • The allowable uses of the loan include payroll support (employee salaries), paid sick leave, paid medical leave, insurance premiums, business mortgage payments, business rental payments, and business utility payments.
  • Requires eligible borrowers to make a good faith certification that the loan is necessary due to the uncertainty of current economic conditions caused by COVID-19 and that the loan funds will be used for the above business purposes.
  • Up to eight weeks of average payroll and other costs will be forgiven if the business retains its employees and their salary levels.
  • Principal and interest are deferred for up to a year and all borrower fees waived.

Additional Information: The covered loan period begins on February 15, 2020, and ends on June 30, 2020.

Specific Provision: Sec. 1110. Emergency Economic Injury Grants

Purpose: Expands eligibility for access to Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) to include small businesses during the covered period of January 31, 2020, to December 31, 2020. The stimulus includes $10 billion in funding for a provision to provide an advance of $10,000 to small businesses and non-profits that apply for an SBA economic injury disaster loan within 3 days of applying for the loan.

Individuals Eligible for Relief:

  • Small businesses
  • Employee-owned businesses
  • Cooperatives
  • Individuals operating as sole proprietors
  • Individuals operating as independent contractors
  • Private non-profit organizations and tribal organizations.

Description of Relief:

  • This provision establishes an Emergency Grant to allow an eligible entity who has applied for an EIDL loan due to COVID-19, to request an advance on that loan of not more than $10,000. The Small Business Administration (SBA) must then distribute that grant within three days.
  • Borrowers may loan up to $2 million dollars with an interest rate of 3.75 percent for companies and 2.75 percent for nonprofits, with principal and interest deferment for up to four years.
  • Approval based solely on an applicant’s credit score or use of an appropriate alternative method to determine applicant’s ability to pay.
  • The loans may be used to provide paid sick leave to employees, maintain payroll, meet increased production costs, and business obligations such as rental or mortgage payments.
  • Eligible grant recipients must have been in operation on January 31, 2020.

Title 2 – Assistance for American Workers, Families, and Businesses:

Subtitle A – Unemployment Insurance

Specific Provision: Sec. 2102. Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

Purpose: Creates a new program modeled on Disaster Unemployment Assistance to individuals that provides unemployment compensation to individuals who do not normally qualify for unemployment benefits and who are not able to work due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Individuals Eligible for Relief:

  • Self-employed workers, including gig workers and independent contractors
  • Part-time workers
  • Workers with limited work histories

Description of Relief: Sections 2104 and 2107 define the relief:

  • Sec. 2104: Provides an emergency increase in unemployment compensation by adding an additional, taxable $600 to every weekly unemployment benefit. The increase will last until July 31, 2020.
  • Sec. 2107: Provides emergency unemployment compensation, which would make available 13 additional weeks of federally funded unemployment compensation for individuals who have exhausted their state unemployment benefits. This will be available immediately through December 31, 2020.

Additional Information: This entire program is administered through the states, is federally funded, and will be effective through December 31, 2020.

Subtitle B – Individual Provisions

Specific Provision: Sec. 2201. Recovery Rebates for Individuals.

Description of Relief:

  • This provision provides $1,200 for single individuals an heads-of-households ($2,400 for couples filing joint tax returns). It also provides $500 per qualifying child dependent under age 17. For instance, a family of four would receive $3,400.
  • The payments phase out at a 5 percent rate above adjusted gross incomes of $75,000 for single individuals, $122,500 for heads-of-households, and $150,000 for married couples who file jointly.
  • Tax filers must provide Social Security Numbers (SSN) for each family member claiming a rebate payment (there is an exception for spouses of active military members.
  • The rebate payments are fully available to residents of all 50 U.S. States and U.S. Territories, including Puerto Rico.
  • The payments will be paid out in the form of a check or direct deposit on the basis of the taxpayers’ filed tax year 2019 returns (or 2018 if not yet filed).
  • The rebate payments will be made between now and December 31, 2020.

Subtitle C – Business Provisions

Specific Provision: Sec. 2301. Employee Retention Credit for Employers Subject to Closing or Experiencing Economic Hardship Due to COVID-19.

Purpose: This provision provides a refundable payroll tax credit for 50 percent of wages paid by eligible employers to certain employees during the COVID-19 crisis.

Individuals Eligible for Relief:

  • Employers or Non-Profit Organizations whose operations have been fully or partially suspended as a result of a government order limiting commerce, travel, or group meetings.
  • Employers who have experienced a greater than 50 percent reduction in quarterly receipts (measured on a year-over-year basis).
  • Employees who are furloughed or face reduced hours as a result of their employers’ closure or economic hardship due to COVID-19.
  • Employers with 100 or fewer full-time employees, regardless of whether the employee is furloughed.
  • NOT ELLIGIBLE: If an employer is already receiving a Small Business Interruption Loan.

Description of Relief:

  • The credit is provided to employers for wages and compensation, including health benefits.
  • The credit is provided for the first $10,000 in wages and compensation paid by the employer to an eligible employee.
  • Wages do not include payroll credits for required paid sick leave, paid family leave, or paid family and medical leave.
  • The Secretary of the Treasury makes these payments to eligible employers.
  • The credit is provided through December 31, 2020.

Specific Provision: Sec. 2302. Delay of Payment of Employer Payroll Taxes.

Purpose: This provision allows taxpayers to defer paying the employer portion of certain payroll taxes through 2020 to alleviate the burden of employers struggling to make payroll.

Description of Relief:

  • Allows employers’ share of the 6.2 percent Social Security tax to be deferred past the current 2020 taxable year. Fifty percent of the tax will be due on December 31, 2021, and the other fifty percent will be due on December 31, 2022.
  • A self-employed taxpayer can defer paying 50 percent of his or her self-employment tax past the current 2020 taxable year. Twenty-five percent will be due on December 31, 2021, and the other twenty-five percent will be due on December 31, 2022.

The House of Representatives will be voting on this bill on Friday, so it is CRITICAL you call your House member and ask them to pass the stimulus bill. You are encouraged to tell them how important this is to you personally and your need for economic relief, and to thank them for thinking of the average American (as a freelancer, employee, or employer). That is really all you need to say to the office.

You can find your personal House member by going here https://www.house.gov/ and typing in your zip code in the upper righthand corner of the landing page.

We hope you and your loved ones remain safe and healthy. We will continue to work for you on these issues and provide resources to help you during these unprecedented times.

Sincerely,

Dave Wenhold, CAE, PLC

NCRA’s Executive Director

Reporting a PGA Golf Tournament

Deborah Kriegshauser with Hale Irwin.

NCRA member Deborah Kriegshauser, FAPR, RMR, CRR, CRC, CLVS, shares a memory of one of her most unusual jobs.

JCR | When and where was the job?

DK | I was asked to caption media interviews of the Senior PGA Golf Tournament players at the Boone Valley (Members Only) Golf Course in Augusta, Mo., in 2000.

JCR | What made the job unique?

DK | It was literally the middle of nowhere. They couldn’t find any freelancer who would accept the job as they were not wanting to pay in cash but, instead, provide four tournament passes to the four-day event, which included celebrity golf tournaments with the PGA players before the big tournament began. In doing so, I personally got to meet Arnold Palmer, along with Tom Watson, Tom Kite, Chi-Chi Rodríguez, and many big-name players. As they came off the golf course each day, they would be interviewed individually, and I would report the interview and provided instantaneous transcripts to the media folks for their use in their articles and TV programs. 

JCR | Did anything else make the job memorable?

Kriegshauser with golfer Larry Nelson

DK | I would be there until dark, but the family and friends who used my tournament passes ended up winning all these attendance ticket prizes that the sponsors were giving away. They were sometimes the only ones left in the area, waiting on me to get done. They walked away with Adirondack chairs, coolers, you name it. It was a pretty awesome experience.

I have a pole flag that all the PGA players signed. It is very special to me. I’ve been told it’s worth a lot of money, especially with all the players who have passed away, including Arnold Palmer.

Deborah Kriegshauser, FAPR, RMR, CRR, CRC, CLVS, is an official reporter in Dallas, Texas.

NCRA E-seminar Spring Sale

Need CEUs? Don’t miss this special deal on e-seminars recorded at the 2019 NCRA Convention & Expo.  Make your purchase between midnight March 24 and midnight March 26 Eastern time. The seminars will then be available for viewing from April 1-30.

Bundled seminars

The spring bundle includes 4 e-seminars for the discounted price of $60 members/$85 nonmembers (regularly $220/$316). Earn 0.4 CEUs.

  • Ethics: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, presenters Deanna Baker, RMR, and Heidi Thomas, RDR, CRR, CRC: Attendees will get a detailed description of the Captioners Code of Professional Ethics and leave with a better understanding of the various aspects of the Code that they can use on a daily basis.
  • The Lost Art of Professionalism, presenter Marsha Naegeli, CMRS, CRI: Learn the subtle and not-so-subtle tweaks to your personal brand that will set you apart from others in the room, elevate your business, and enhance your life. Gain new perspectives on the many ways in which professionalism can make an impact on the entire profession.
  • A Guide to Social Media for Post-Millennials, presenters Lauren Lawrence, RPR, and Matthew Moss, RPR: This session is designed to help participants navigate the benefits and pitfalls of using social media as a means for connecting and collaborating across multiple platforms. It will also help them avoid potentially career-damaging mistakes.
  • Back to School: A Day in the Life of a University of Wisconsin-Madison Staff CART Provider, presenter Kristen Wurgler, RPR: Topics include providing successful post-secondary CART in the classroom, accessibility versus verbatim writing, STEM captioning, and special adaptations for hard-of-hearing or deaf consumers to increase inclusion and enhance the learning experience.

Individual seminars

These e-seminars are only sold individually. Receive a 69 percent discount from regular prices ($65 members/$89 nonmembers).

  1. Captioning a Sporting Event 101:   Baseball, Basketball, Football, and Hockey, presenter Sandra Smith, RPR: 0.125 CEU $20 members/$28 nonmembers: Learn a few basics of each game, discussing positions, plays, and terminology. Tips and tricks for captioning a sporting event. The goal is to give the participants a basic understanding of each event to prep and take a on captioning assignment.
  2. Where Languages Intersect – Best Practices in Interpreted Proceedings, presenter Aimee Benavides: 0.125 CEU $20 members/$28 nonmembers: This session is designed to help individual court reporters as well as owners of court reporting firms to understand the best practices of interpreters which affect interpreted proceedings, foreign language transcription and translation requests, requests for vital statistics translation, and other special requests.
  3. How Voice Writing Technology Works:  Dispelling Myths and Explaining Facts, presenter Tori Pittman, RDR, CRI, FAPR, CVR-CM-M, RCP: 0.125 CEU $20 members/$28 nonmembers: There are many stories about voice writing out there but what is the reality? Get an in-depth explanation of how the technology works, how it is similar to steno (and how it’s different), and the practicalities of working as a professional using this method of reporting.

What states allow remote and/or online notarization?

Please note that each state’s notarization laws are different and may only apply to specific proceedings. Please check with your State Notary, Secretary of State, or other regulatory agency for your state’s specific remote notarization or oath administration laws. Lastly, the information provided is not intended, nor should it be construed, to be legal advice. Members with particular needs concerning the specific issues mentioned should seek the guidance or retention of competent counsel. If you have any additional updates or changes to this information, please contact NCRA Director of State Government Relations Jocelynn Moore at jmoore@ncra.org.

Faced with both the need to practice safety in this health crisis and yet the need to allow justice to continue its work, many court reporters are attempting to make the remote office accessible for courtrooms and depositions. Keep in mind that for some states and for some officials, their ability to swear in a witness is embedded within their licenses or within their official duties as a court reporter.

According to the National Notary Association, “remote notarization” happens when a signer personally appears before the Notary at the time of the notarization using audio-visual technology over the internet instead of being physically present in the same room. Remote online notarization is also called webcam notarization, online notarization, or virtual notarization.

Congress is currently considering a bill, the “Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic Notarization Act of 2020,” that was introduced by U.S. Senators Mark Warner of Virginia and Kevin Cramer of North Dakota on March 18, 2020. If enacted, the bill will authorize remote online notarizations nationally. For information, please visit: https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/senate-bill/3533/text.

Several states have implemented changes to laws in the past few months which allow for remote notarization, and we have attempted to gather that information for you here:

Alabama – Effective March 24, 2020, through April 16, 2020, official court reporters, special roving court reporters, special court reporters, supernumerary court reporters, and freelance court reporters qualified to administer an oath in the state of Alabama to a witness in a deposition or court proceeding or trial may swear a witness remotely by audio-video communication technology if the deposition or court proceeding or trial is conducted by audio-video communication equipment that allows the court reporter and the witness simultaneously to view and orally communicate with each other, provided that the court reporter can positively identify the witness.

Alaska – Can swear witnesses telephonically since the 1990s. 

California — Effective March 27, 2020, the following statute is suspended: Code of Civil Procedure section 2025.310, subdivision (b), to the extent that subdivision limits a court’s authority to provide that a party deponent may appear at a deposition by telephone.

Colorado — Effective March 27, 2020, until 30 days from March 27, 2020, unless extended further by Executive Order. The Executive Order temporarily suspends the requirement that the individual making a statement or executing a signature appear personally before a notarial officer, as set forth in C.R.S. § 24-21-506. This temporary suspension does not apply to any notarial act required by Title 1 of Colorado Revised Statutes. Governor Polis authorized the Colorado Secretary of State, consistent with the Secretary of State’s rulemaking authority under C.R.S. § 24-21-527(1)(a)-(f), to promulgate and issue temporary emergency rules to:

  1. Authorize notarial officers to perform notarizations where a person appears before a notarial officer remotely, by real-time audio-video communication; and
  2. Establish the standards and processes necessary to allow remote notarizations, including rules regarding authentication, verification of identity, and audio-video recording.

Connecticut – Effective March 24, 2020, through June 23, 2020, all relevant state laws and regulations are hereby modified to permit any notarial act that is required under Connecticut law to be performed using an electronic device or process that allows a notary public commissioned by the Connecticut Secretary of the State and a remotely located individual to communicate with each other simultaneously by sight and sound (“Communication Technology”), provided that certain conditions are met.

Florida 

Georgia – Currently, there is no clear legal authority expressly barring a court reporter from administering an oath remotely, nor is there authority expressly permitting it. Remote depositions, in general, are permitted by Georgia’s Civil Practice Act. “[A] deposition may be taken by telephone or other remote electronic means only upon the stipulation of the parties or by order of the court. For purposes of the requirements of this chapter, a deposition taken by telephone or other remote electronic means is taken in the state and at the place where the deponent is to answer questions.” OCGA § 9-11-30(b)(4). However, the Act does not address whether a court reporter must be physically present with a witness in order to swear the witness in. No appellate legal authority interpreting this code section to impose a live swearing-in requirement could be located; however, no legal authority interpreting it to bar remote swearing-in was located either.

Idaho 

Illinois — Effective March 26, 2020, Governor Pritzker ordered that during the duration of the Gubernatorial Disaster Proclamation related to the outbreak of COVID-19, the requirement that a person must “appear before” a Notary Public commissioned under the laws of Illinois pursuant to the Illinois Notary Act, 5 ILCS 312/6-102, is satisfied if the Notary Public performs a remote notarization via two-way audio video communication technology, provided that the Notary Public commissioned in Illinois is physically within the State while performing the notarial act and the transaction follows the guidance posted by the Illinois Secretary of State on its website. Additionally, it was ordered that during the duration of the Gubernatorial Disaster Proclamation related to the outbreak of COVID-19, any act of witnessing required by Illinois law may be completed remotely by via two-way audio-video communication technology, provided that certain conditions are met.

Indiana — pending implementation – Although the notarization laws took effect July 1, 2019, the state required additional time to implement remote notarization rules and technology. Contact the notarization office or regulating agency for information on when remote notarization procedures and services will be made fully available.

Iowa — Effective March 22, 2020, until 11:59 P.M. on April 16, 2020, unless sooner terminated or extended in writing by Governor Reynolds. The Governor, pursuant to Iowa Code § 29C.6(6) suspended the personal appearance requirement in Iowa Code § 9B.6, but only to the extent that the notarial act complies with the requirements of section 6 of 2019 Iowa Acts chapter 44 (Senate File 475) and communication technology. Additionally, the Governor, pursuant to Iowa Code § 29C.6(d) and Iowa Code § 135.144(3), and in conjunction with the Iowa Department of Public Health, temporarily suspended the regulatory provisions of Iowa Code §§ 144B.3, 633.279, and 633B.105, to the extent that they require the physical presence of a testator, settlor, principal, witness, or other person, if the person is present in a manner in which the witness or other person can see and hear the acts by electronic means, such as video conference, Skype, Facetime, Zoom, or other means, whether or not recorded.

Kentucky — pending legislation

Maine – Effective March 25, 2020 until further ordered by the State of Maine Supreme Judicial Court. An officer or other person before whom a deposition is to be taken is hereby authorized to administer oaths and take testimony remotely, so long as that officer or other person can both see and hear the deponent via audio-video communication equipment or technology for purposes of positively identifying the deponent. In addition, all parties are reminded that, “[u]nless the court orders otherwise, the parties may by written stipulation (1) provide that depositions may be taken before any person, at any time or place, upon any notice, and in any manner and when so taken may be used like other depositions, and (2) modify the procedures provided by these rules for other methods of discovery.” M.R. Civ. P. 29. If the parties so stipulate to the person before whom the deposition is to be taken, that person has the authority to administer oaths.

Maryland — Effective March 30, 2020, until the termination of the state of emergency and the proclamation of the catastrophic health emergency has been rescinded, except as may be rescinded, superseded, amended, or revised by additional orders. The order issues guidance to notaries public on the use of communications technologies that permit the notary to see and hear the person signing a document in realtime.

Michigan — pending implementation

Minnesota – Effective January 1, 2019, the Minnesota Legislature enacted remote online notarization pursuant to Minnesota Statutes 358 and 359, allowing a notary public who is physically located in this state to perform a remote online notarial act as defined in Minnesota Statutes 358.645.

Mississippi – All persons qualified to administer an oath in the State of Mississippi may swear a witness remotely by audio-video communications equipment for purposes of readily identifying the witness until otherwise ordered by the Supreme Court of Mississippi.

Missouri – Effective March 25, 2020, until otherwise further ordered by the Supreme Court of Missouri. The Court hereby suspends any local or Missouri Supreme Court rule that may be interpreted to require administering any oath or affirmation in-person when such oaths or affirmations can be administered remotely by available technologies, including videoconferencing or teleconferencing, and is not otherwise prohibited by any statutory or constitutional provision.

Montana – Effective October 1, 2019, Montana Notaries are permitted to perform remote notarizations for signers outside the state.

Nevada

New Hampshire — Effective March 23, 2020. Governor Sununu in Emergency Order #11, Pursuant to Executive Order 2020-4, has temporarily authorized the authority to perform secure online notarization.

New York – Effective March 7, 2020, through April 18, 2020, any notarial act that is required under New York State law is authorized to be performed utilizing audio-video technology provided that certain requirements are met. As of 2017, the New York Department of State, with regard to CPLR 3113(d), stated that “…with respect to civil depositions, a notary may under the specific provisions of Article 31 of the CPLR and in compliance therewith, swear in a remote witnesses. …” 

North Dakota – The webcam notarization law took effect August 1, 2019. The statute permits the Secretary of State to publish rules for remote notarization, but the Secretary of State is not required to do so.

Ohio – The Ohio Notary Public Modernization Act took effect September 2019. An online notarization is permitted by an Ohio notary public who has been authorized by the Ohio Secretary of State’s office to perform online notarizations. With regard to remote oath administration during depositions, the Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure contemplates the use of remote depositions (See Ohio R. Civ. P. 30(b)(6)). However, the rules do not state that the oath has to be administered in person. The Ohio rules regarding notaries public (see Ohio Revised Code 147) do not address the in-person administration of oaths at a deposition.

Oklahoma 

Pennsylvania – Effective March 21, 2020, the requirement of physical presence of notaries who are court reporters/stenographers participating in criminal, civil, and administrative proceedings is suspended as pertaining to notarial acts and oaths of affirmations and will only last the duration of the declared disaster emergency.

South Dakota – The state’s remote notarizations are currently limited to paper documents only and signers for remote notarizations may only be identified through the Notary’s personal knowledge.

Tennessee

Texas – The Texas Supreme Court issued Emergency Order No. 1 allowing for all participants in a civil or criminal proceeding – including a Texas Certified Shorthand Reporter – to appear remotely until it expires on May 8 or is extended. 

Vermont – Notaries public holding a commission to perform notarial acts in Vermont may perform a Remote Notarial Act while physically located in Vermont and only under specified conditions.

Virginia

Washington — Effective March 24, 2020, until midnight on April 26, 2020, Senate Bill (SB) 5641, An Act Relating to Electronic Notarial Acts by Remotely Located Individuals — which was to initially take effect October 1, 2020 — is to take effect immediately, from March 27, 2020, until midnight on April 26, 2020.

West Virginia – Effective March 25, 2020. The statutory regulation with respect to the provisions of the Code applicable to court reporters and other notaries, the requirements of personal appearance for a notarial act that relates to a statement made in or a signature executed on record is suspended for the duration of the State of Emergency.

Wisconsin – Effective March 25, 2020 until April 30, 2020. Pursuant to the Supreme Court of Wisconsin’s administrative and superintending authority, court reporters qualified to administer an oath in the State of Wisconsin may administer an oath to a witness at a deposition remotely via audio-visual communications technology from a location within the State of Wisconsin, provided the person administering the oath can see and hear the person and can identify the witness. It is further ordered that if a witness is not located within the State of Wisconsin, the witness may consent to being put on oath remotely via audio-visual communication technology by a court reporter qualified to administer an oath in the State of Wisconsin pursuant to this order. It is further oredered that (1) this order does not alter the ability of parties, by written stipulation, to provide that depositions may be taken before any person, at any time or place, upon any notice, and in any manner pursuant to Wis. Stat. § (Rule) 804.04; and (2) the parties to an action or proceeding may, by written stipulation, modify the procedures provided by this order. It is further ordered that the remote administration of an oath at a deposition via audio-visual communications technology pursuant to this order shall constitute the administration of an oath “before” a court reporter under Wis. Stat. §§ (Rules) 804.03(1) and 887.01(1) or any court order authorizing a deposition upon oral examination; and any other rule of procedure, court order, or opinion applicable to remote depositions that can be read to limit or prohibit the use of audio-visual communication equipment to administer oaths at depositions remotely is hereby suspended.

Still to come

A few other states have enacted remote notarization laws, but these have not taken effect. If you work in one of the following states, be sure to check with your State Notary, Secretary of State, or other regulatory agency for your state’s specific remote notarization or oath administration laws.

Arizona, effective July 1, 2020.

Iowa, effective July 1, 2020.

Maryland, effective October 1, 2020.

Nebraska, effective July 1, 2020.

Washington, effective October 1, 2020.

As a final reminder, if any of your licenses are set to expire in the next few months, taking action early could help you keep working in case the situation worsens.

Please note that the information provided includes condensed summarizations, descriptions, and opinions regarding recently enacted statutes. The information is not intended, nor should it be construed, to be legal advice. Members with particular needs concerning the specific issues mentioned should seek the guidance or retention of competent counsel.

Working through COVID-19

Here’s a collection of materials to help you through the days ahead. We’ve also collected some from other websites.

Working remotely for court reporters and captioners

Tips for captioners about working through coronavirus

Helpful how-tos for remote depositions

Tools for web conferencing

What states allow remote and/or online notarization?

Stenograph’s blog offers tools for working during COVID-19

Your home office

Working from home while parenting

Setting up a home office

Legislative information

How the Federal stimulus bill affects the court reporting and captioning industry

What’s happening at NCRA headquarters

Stay in the know: NCRA event updates, webinars, and more

Message from NCRA President Max Curry

NCRA events that are canceled

March and April Written Knowledge Test registration and testing

March 27 and 28 spring CLVS hands-on training and production exam

May 17-19 2020 Leadership & Legislative Boot Camp

Public resources

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) World Health Organization

United States Department of Health & Human Services

As various areas of the United States, Canada, and other countries have been affected at different rates and in different ways, please also consult your local and state health departments as well as your personal physician about the latest updates in your region.