Serving as the honorary bailiff for the Kansas Supreme Court

By Mary Kay Howe

Mary Kay Howe

It was a great honor to be chosen to be the honorary bailiff for the Kansas Supreme Court for a special session it was having in Lawrence, Kan. 

Since 2011, the Kansas Supreme Court has conducted 16 special sessions throughout the state where court representatives have traveled to all areas of the state to argue some Supreme Court cases, which allowed members of that community to come see them in action. Since 2015, those have been evening events, which brought a bigger attendance. Prior to our event in Lawrence, the largest crowd was 700 people. The attendance in Lawrence was more than 800 community members.

Whenever the Supreme Court has one of these special sessions, they reach out to the chief judge in that city and ask that the chief judge pick a person who would be a great example of the judicial system, someone who has long-standing employment with the state and would be willing and able to take on the role of “honorary bailiff.” Consequently, having worked for the Kansas judicial system as a court reporter for over 43 years and my love of the court system and all it stands for, I was asked by the chief judge if I would be willing to do the job.  Well, I am always about promoting court reporting, and I thought this would be another great opportunity for just that. Our Office of Judicial Administration contacted me and asked if they could do an interview of me that they would then do a media blast on. I, of course, obliged, once again to get the career of court reporting promoted. 

Following the interview and my approval of the same, the published article went on the state judicial website, and it also was sent to our local newspaper that was published online and in print. It was then put on my own Facebook page, as well as our KCRA Facebook page and the NCRA Facebook page. So based on all of that, hopefully, a few or a lot more people saw “court reporting” in a positive light.

As far as the event itself, my job was to pronounce the entry of the Supreme Court justices: “All rise.”  (Then a rapping of the gavel three times.) Then I said: “Hear Ye, Hear Ye, Hear Ye, the Supreme Court of the State of Kansas.” There was further text they had me say, but it was in front of me, and I don’t remember it all. At that point, the chief justice took over and then honored me as a loyal Kansas employee and a court reporter for our state since 1975. I’m sure there was some gasping when people heard that, because they probably think I should be dead by now. At the adjournment, they had me further say, “All rise” to the crowd as they exited. 

Following the session, there was a reception for all of the justices to meet and greet the community members. There were many from the legal community especially that came up to me to congratulate me for my service.

This was the first time I’ve ever been invited to do such a thing, and I felt honored to be chosen. Following that, I received a very nice thank-you letter from the Kansas Supreme Court chief justice for being the honorary bailiff and for my state service.

If any opportunity like this ever presents itself to any of you, please take it. There is no better way to present ourselves publicly and what we do. The only regret I have is that they didn’t ask me to bring my machine because we all know how that always intrigues people and they want to know how it works.

I love court reporting!

Mary Kay Howe, RMR, is an official court reporter based in Lawrence, Kan. She can be reached at mhowe@douglas-county.com.

Angel Donor Profile: Marjorie Peters

Marjorie Peters

The National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF) supports the advancement of the court reporting and captioning professions through education, scholarship, recognition, and programs critical to preserving the past, enriching the present, and securing the future of the profession. NCRF is able to do the great work it does with donations from individuals and organizations through various donor programs, including the popular Angels program.

Each month, NCRA will highlight one of the more than 100 Angels who support the National Court Reporters Foundation year after year. This month, the column kicks off with a profile of Marjorie Peters, RMR, CRR, who also holds NCRA’s Realtime Systems Administrator certificate.

JCR | Let’s begin with learning where you are based and what you do.

MP | Based in Pittsburgh, Pa., covering Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Washington D.C., and Maryland. I am a freelance reporter and small firm owner covering complex realtime and all types of litigation, large and small.

JCR | How long have you been an Angel?

MP | Since the Angel program started, nearly 15 years ago!

JCR | Clearly being an Angel is important to you. Why?

MP | I did not attend college, but having a skilled trade that has become a career has offered me the opportunity to achieve goals and work in places with people I never would have imagined. It has given me freedom of choice and flexibility in my life. I want everyone to realize their own goals as well, and the Foundation programs offer those opportunities to others as well.  How can I not support that!?

JCR | Are you involved with the Foundation in other ways?

MP | I am on the Angels Gatherers Committee! Ask me about being an Angel! It’s not as hard as you think. After I was an Angel for the first couple of years, I realized it was a commitment that I would always make to myself and others because NCRF’s programs really do help others. Foundation programs empower!

JCR | What is your favorite NCRF program?   

MP | Well, the easy answer is the Oral Histories Project. It is a labor of love and the best day you will ever have. The Foundation programs support education through scholarships, support reporting firms by offering legal education resources, and of course the Corrine Clark Professionalism Institute supports fledgling reporters and firms. The Foundation lifts students, reporters, and firms to success personally and professionally.  

Learn more about the NCRF Angel Donors program, or become an Angel.

Lawmakers agree to boost court reporter pay, in face of ‘crisis’

The Idaho Press reported on Feb. 25 that members of the Idaho Legislature’s joint budget committee voted unanimously in favor of boosting pay for court reporters in the state after learning that the state is facing an unprecedented — and critical — lack of court reporters.

Read more.

From intern to official

By Callie Sajdera

Callie Sajdera

In theory, I couldn’t wait to get to Realtime VI (200-225 wpm). In Realtime VI, I couldn’t wait to intern. While I interned, I couldn’t wait to work. Here I am, six months later, working my dream job in my dream city. I’m Callie Sajdera, an official reporter for the Second Judicial District of Denver, Colo.  I graduated from Anoka Technical College in Anoka, Minn., in June of 2018. I have been an official reporter since October of 2018, and all I can say is that I truly love my job. 

In March, I did part of my internship in the very courthouse where I am now currently employed. I knew after I finished my internship that Colorado, specifically the Lindsey-Flannigan Courthouse, was where I wanted and needed to be. I was going to get there some way, somehow. Everyone has experienced the transition from a student to a professional, whether it be freelance, official, CART, or captioning, and we all know how terrifying it was at the very beginning. There’s no doubt that you will make a mistake along the way, there will be questions you’ll feel silly for asking, and you will fall into a “newbie  trap.” 

The hardest part about my transition to an official was finding a job. Like I said before, I knew I wanted to be in Denver and I knew I’d get there, but I didn’t expect it to happen right away. A challenge that I came across while job hunting was the intimidating factor of holding the Registered Professional Reporter (RPR).  So many times as I was filling out the application for a job, there would be a box that you check to confirm that you held your RPR. If you didn’t check that box, your application was terminated and you couldn’t move forward. That was discouraging since I was currently working on my RPR and still am, but I was not going to let that stop me.

A month later, I received an email from the Court Reporting Administrator for Denver, who is now my boss, and she informed me of a position that became open and encouraged me to apply. I was open and honest about not holding my RPR certification, and she said: “I want you to apply.” I applied; I got an interview; I got the job. I later learned the impression that I made as an intern here in March helped me land my job. My boss fought for me. She knew hiring a new grad with only internship experience could be a risk, but that was a risk she was willing to take.  

For students who are reading this, being a new professional is hard. The amount of knowledge you learn is astronomical, and at times it can be scary. As a new professional, it has been so important for me to know that it’s OK to make mistakes, just don’t hold onto them for long.  Ask every question that comes to mind, because having the correct answer is always better than trying to guess.  As for the “newbie traps,” they are unavoidable, but I have an amazing work family that picks me up and helps me through them. As I’m sure everyone has been told throughout school: “If you’re comfortable, you’re not growing.” If there’s one piece of advice through this article, it would be to push yourself to be uncomfortable, grow in this profession, and always practice to be the best professional you can be.  

Callie Sajdera is an official reporter for the Second Judicial District of Denver, Colo. She can be reached at callie.sajdera@judicial.state.co.us.

NCRA member aids in animal rescues during California wildfires

Sherri Kuebler and her horse Taylor

When the Woolsey fire northwest of Los Angeles, Calif., burned nearly 97,000 acres before it was finally contained, it left in its wake not only a trail of devastation and heartbreaking loss of life but also stories of courageous volunteerism. NCRA member Sherri  L. Kuebler, RPR, a retired freelance court reporter from Chino Hills, Calif., was one such volunteer.

According to Kuebler, the ranch manager where she, her husband, and several of their friends board their horses, was contacted by a rescue group asking for volunteers with horse trailers to pick up various livestock in the Calabasas area where the Woolsey fire was headed.

“We had four horse trailers and approximately 12 volunteers who drove approximately 70 miles to a staging area where we coordinated with the Lost Hills Sheriff Department who escorted us into the danger zone and to one particular address where the owner was not able to get his animals out,” said Kuebler, a court reporter for 19 years who recently retired from her assignment to a felony trial courtroom at the North Justice Center in Fullerton.

“At this particular address, we rescued pigs, horses, peacocks, roosters, hens, guinea pigs and huge 400-pound turtles. We picked up two sheep who were running loose on the streets, and another homeowner just handed her horse to my ranch owner and said: ‘Please take her’,” she added.

Loading the scared animals into their slant-load horse trailers was pretty difficult, said Kuebler. “There were no cages to take from the property and these huge pigs were not cooperating. We finally got them into modified cages and trash cans on wheels and loaded them that way.

Kuebler said the volunteers were only able to make one trip due to the emerging fire and heavy smoke, but all the animals they did save were brought back to the ranch where they keep their horses. There, she said, some of the boarders bought cages and food for the rescues to help make them as comfortable as possible because they were very scared.

“Our ranch owners were kind enough to allow these rescues to stay as long as needed until they were reunited with their owners. Thank goodness all of them survived and have all been delivered back to their owners,” she said.

Kuebler, who can be contacted at sherrikuebler@verizon.net, said that donations to help support rescues such as the Woolsey fire one can be made directly to the El Rodeo Equestrian Center at 4449 Carbon Canyon Road, Brea, CA 92823.








A court reporter shortage: Critical field faces lack of new recruits

NCRA member Melissa Grimes, RPR, an official court reporter from Calhoun City, Miss., is quoted in an article posted by The Dispatch on Dec. 1 about the current shortage of court reporters. The article also mentions NCRA’s A to ZTM program.

Read more.








Take your German depositions to Amsterdam

A blog posted on Nov. 26 by JD Supra addresses the benefits of taking German depositions to The Netherlands.

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Griffin & Associates announces name change to Griffin Group International

Griffin & Associates, Arizona’s largest court reporting firm, announced in a press release issued Nov. 1 that the firm has changed its name to Griffin Group International and has introduced a new captioning service.

Read more.








Official or freelance? Internships help students decide

Internships are an opportunity for students to get out of the classroom and into the real world. During their internships – which do not start until after they have reached at least 180 wpm – students are required to complete a minimum of 40 hours of actual writing time. Working with practicing reporters in a variety of settings helps students choose the right path. These students from South Suburban College in Oak Forest, Ill., share their internship stories.

By Amy Priestly

My court reporting internship experience through South Suburban College has been wonderful. I could not have asked for a more satisfying experience. I had never shadowed or interned with a reporter before this experience and had never gone out to see the real life of a working reporter, so this was something completely new for me.

In the beginning of my internship, I didn’t know what to expect while shadowing a reporter. I didn’t know what to expect from lawyers, judges, etc. To my surprise, the reporter, and every reporter I would go out with after that, was very friendly with the lawyers and judges for the most part. Also to my surprise, the reporter, most of the time, didn’t have to clarify the spelling of a name or ask for a spelling of the attorneys’ names; they had already taken the initiative to spell it for the reporter. The depositions in the beginning of my internship were not as long as I had anticipated them to be. I had the opportunity, though, not long after, to shadow a reporter on a longer deposition. It is so intriguing to be on the job and observing activities or processes that I have learned in school, and to be seeing those processes in action.

One of the processes I observed was an interpreter in a deposition, translating questions from English to Spanish and Spanish to English. It was actually not as difficult as it had sounded to me in school; it was exciting.

My favorite part of the internship was going to the courthouse. I was able to see two bench trials and motions. As I was shadowing a reporter for one of the bench trials, it was something that I knew in my heart: not only do I want to become a court reporter, I would like to one day be sitting in her position as an official court reporter recording these trials. I couldn’t have asked for a more profound and magnificent experience during my internship.

Amy Priestley graduated from South Suburban and currently works for McCorkle Litigation Services, Inc., in Chicago, Ill.

 

Jaclyn Dluski

As a student of court reporting, I spent my summer on a court reporting internship shadowing various reporters from many different agencies and courthouses. Since I have never been to a deposition or a trial, this experience has been enlightening and enjoyable. I have been able to learn which form of reporting I would like to do in the future upon graduating school. I have decided I would like to be a freelance reporter.

After shadowing many different freelance reporters, I quickly realized that I enjoyed the flexibility of their schedules. Each reporter that I shadowed had a different number of days they worked a week, usually dependent upon their lifestyle. Some of these women were mothers, some were married, and some were single. Each was able to adapt their schedule to fit the needs of their lifestyle. Since I would like to one day be a mother, it will be extremely beneficial to be a freelance reporter with a flexible schedule.

Unlike in a courtroom, in a deposition freelance reporters have full control over the room. They conduct the entire deposition starting with swearing in the witness to asking for the lawyers or witness to repeat what they just said. The atmosphere is less hectic as there are not many people coming and going. It is a much easier atmosphere to work in and focus. Beyond the flexibility of schedule and the atmosphere, working for an agency allows me to have coverage if needed, to not go the same place every day, to sit in on depositions about all kinds of different topics, and to stay far away from criminals in custody.

Overall, this internship has been trying and exciting. I have found out what a small agency is like and what a large agency is like. I have seen the ups and downs to reporting. I have only found an even larger appreciation of the field and my ability to join this small society of intelligent individuals who can do what I do. I look forward to joining them.

Jaclyn Dluski is working on her 225 wpm.

 








Real estate. Record contracts. Smoothies. Court reporting?

Randy Wolpin

Students come to court reporting school straight out of high school, as military veterans, or quite often, as career-changers. Randy Wolpin, a student at Atlantic Technical College in Coconut Creek, Fla., has a number of successful careers on his résumé. Now he’s ready to take on one more. Wolpin shared his story with Up-to-Speed.

My background is in sales and marketing, business acquisitions, real estate, historic preservation, zoning, and community development. I’ve been a business owner for more than 19 years. I’m a licensed real estate managing broker in Florida, Georgia, and Illinois.

My professional background started in the music business, exclusively representing Thin Lizzy, EMF, Corey Feldman (actor), Leif Garrett (actor), and countless others and receiving album credits from Thin Lizzy and Mike Tramp’s White Lion. I secured record contracts for more than a half a dozen artists, including a demo and rarities from Marilyn Manson and Paul Di’Anno (front-man for Iron Maiden).

In addition, I was cited by Dave Thompson, the editor of Rolling Stone and U2 biographer, in his book Alternative Rock, as creator of a critically acclaimed tour: The Social Chaos Tour 1999, credited as one of the top 75 tours of all time. I have been mentioned in the credits on the Howard Stern Show twice, as well as in two pages in Paul Di’Anno’s best-selling book, The Beast. Following my exit from the music industry, I owned a Smoothie King Franchise in Plantation, Fla., as well as an Assist-2-Sell Franchise in Atlanta, Ga. I’ve been a re-developer and a historic preservationist. I am very inspired by the program at Atlantic Technical College and look forward to bringing my business skills and applying them in the court reporting industry.

UTS | How did you get interested in court reporting?
WOLPIN | While residing in Atlanta, Ga., one of my real estate clients introduced me to court reporting. She is a firm owner who has made quite a name for herself in the industry. I had never been exposed to the court reporting industry, even though my sister is an attorney in the state of Mississippi.

UTS | What kind of support system do you have at home or at school?
WOLPIN | After closing my Assist-2-Sell Franchise in Atlanta, I sold my home and moved to South Florida. I presently care for my 81-year-old mother who I stay with in Tamarac. I am a full-time student and spend about 4-8 hours a day practicing with little interruption, while learning to master my new interest in stenography. My family loves and supports my new endeavor.

UTS | Do you have a mentor?
WOLPIN | My instructors, Ms. Debra Hill, CRI, and Ms. Susan Williams, are the best in the industry. Their combined experience has allowed me to move forward at a significant pace, while learning the fundamentals, developing proper work ethic, and striving for the accuracy that is required in this amazing industry.

UTS | What do you enjoy most about court reporting school?
WOLPIN | Court reporting school has been a very challenging and rewarding experience. The concepts and the implementations of the program become easier with practice. I am always challenging myself to grow with the applied theories that continue to build upon each lesson. It is a very tactile and unconventional educational program that could be compared to learning and perfecting a musical instrument.

UTS | What’s the best advice you’ve been given so far?
WOLPIN | Practice, practice, practice.

UTS | Who or what inspires you?
WOLPIN | Freethinking, intelligent professionals who have a love for historic preservation, the arts, and the pursuit of happiness.

UTS | What is your dream job?
WOLPIN | Continuing my entrepreneurship as a firm owner while being closer to my daughter.