Weigl, Zweizig return as national champs

NCRA 2019 Speed Contest winner Jeff Weigl
NCRA 2019 Speed Contest winner Jeff Weigl

Jeffrey Weigl, RMR, CRR, CRC, from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, won the 2019 Speed Contest, held on Aug. 14, during the NCRA 2019 Convention & Expo in Denver, Colo. His overall accuracy rate was 97.54 percent, or 87 errors total. This is Weigl’s third win in the Speed Contest. In second place overall for Speed was Patricia Nilsen, RMR, CRR, CRC, CRI, of Nashville, Tenn., and in third was Traci Mertens, RDR, CRR, CRC, of Belleville, Ill.

Doug Zweizig, RDR, CRR, of Baltimore, Md., is the new Realtime Contest champion. Zweizig previously won the contest in 2006 and 2015. Mark Kislingbury, FAPR, RDR, CRR, of Houston, Texas, earned second place overall in the competition, and Weigl placed third overall.

NCRA 2019 Realtime Contest Champion Doug Zweizig
NCRA 2019 Realtime Contest Champion Doug Zweizig

The Speed Contest consists of three legs: literary at 220 wpm, legal opinion at 230 wpm, and testimony at 280 wpm. Contestants have a total of 90 minutes per leg for transcription.

The Realtime Contest consists of two legs: literary at 200 wpm and testimony at 225 wpm. Contestants must turn in an ASCII file immediately following the end of dictation.

In both contests, contestants must receive 95 percent accuracy to qualify; accuracy also determines the winners.

Educator of the Year awarded

Margaret (Peg) Sokalski-Dorchack, RMR, a court reporting program director for MacCormac College in Chicago, Ill., was given the 2019 CASE Award of Excellence. The announcement was made at NCRA’s Convention & Expo being held in Denver, Colo., Aug. 15-18.

NCRA’s CASE (Council on Approved Student Education) Award of Excellence recognizes the important role student education plays in the court reporting profession and honors educators for their dedication and outstanding achievement and leadership. Recipients are nominated by an NCRA member.

Sokalski-Dorchack has been a member of NCRA for almost 40 years. She is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force. After being honorably discharged, she began the court reporting program at Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) in Cuyahoga, Ohio, under the leadership of Dr. Angela Hergenröeder, the first recipient of NCRA’s outstanding educator award. 

Sokalski-Dorchack earned the Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) certification while still in school and completed her associate’s degree. She worked as an official reporter in one of Ohio’s courts. Dr. Hergenröeder asked her to teach an evening class at Tri-C during her first year as a reporter, and it was clear that this was where Sokalski-Dorchack’s passion lay. She went back to school and finished her bachelor’s degree in technical education and earned her master’s degree in business education. While working as a reporter, she also earned her Registered Merit Reporter (RMR) certification.

Sokalski-Dorchack moved to the Chicago area with her family and taught at Triton College; Career Colleges of Chicago; and MacCormac College full-time, where she has spent a total of 22 years, the last being in her current position as the program director of the court reporting program. She has published Speed Advantage Q&A, two volumes of Q&A tests for speeds of 80 to 130 words per minute. She is currently collaborating with colleagues on an updated version of a theory text.

Sokalski-Dorchack is also a recipient of the Illinois Outstanding Educator Award awarded by the Illinois Court Reporters Association.

NCRF recognizes Mervin Vaughn with altruism award

NCRF Chair Tami Smith presents 2019 Altruism Award to recipient Mervin Vaungh
NCRF Chair Tami Smith presents 2019 Altruism Award to recipient Mervin Vaungh

The National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF) presented the 2019 Santo J. Aurelio Award to Mervin E. Vaughn, RPR, from Runnels, Iowa. The announcement was made at a special Awards Luncheon held at NCRA’s Convention & Expo Aug. 15-18, in Denver, Colo.

The Aurelio Award is given to a working court reporter with more than 25 years of experience who has given back to the profession and to the court reporting community with no expectation of any reward. 

Vaughn is has worked as a freelance and an official court reporter and currently serves as president of Huney-Vaughn Court Reporters in Des Moines, Iowa. He completed graduated on 1965 from the American Institute of Business in Des Moines before serving in the U.S. Army in Vietnam from 1966 to 1968.

He has been a long-time supporter of NCRF and has served in numerous volunteer positions for NCRA at the national level. He is a lifetime retired member and holds the nationally recognized professional certification of Registered Professional Reporter (RPR). At the state level, his volunteer service to the Iowa Court Reporters Association (ICRA) spans more than 50 years.

He has also been a long-time advocate for young reporters entering the profession and is known for hosting student interns or recruiting working court reporters to attend marketing events for a local court reporting school. 

For his military service, Vaughn was awarded the U.S. Army Commendation Medal for “distinguishing themselves by exceptionally meritorious service in support of allied counterinsurgency operations in the Republic of Vietnam.”

His community involvement has included volunteering for a local non-profit that assist families with a child or an adult impacted by Downs Syndrome and has served for more than 20 years in various positions to support his local church.

His selflessness when giving back to others has clearly been recognized by such acts as having a scholarship established in his name, which support students entering a trade school. He has also received letters of recommendations from judges, attorneys, instructors, former students, friends, and family, for having this honor bestowed on him.

In the words of one of his children: “My dad has given his whole life to his career and strongly believes in helping others. From leaving his fiancée to go serve his country, to encouraging any student he counters, he has always put court reporting as his top priority. He has done so while rebuilding his company after a devastating fire and saying goodbye to his best friend and business partner. He’s the only person who encouraged me to pursue my CLVS and the reason we are planning our own VHP day, because he saw a need for our community.”

Highlights from some Convention sessions

Attendees have had great choices this year with learning sessions. Here are some highlights of a few of them.

Student steno speed dating

Students attending the NCRA 2019 Convention & Expo got to try out a twist on speed dating with a session that let them talk to a variety of court reporting professionals.

Student Shaunise Day organized the steno speed dating for her fourth year.

“My concept was to have not just a power point seminar,” she said. She wanted to give people time to interact.

“It’s always great to meet more reporters and get different perspectives,” said Rachel Helm, a student at Green River College from Poulsbo, Wash.

Day said students got the opportunity to network and ask questions that they maybe couldn’t ask in an online conversation.

Emily Deutsch from Bloomington Mn., attends Anoka Technical College.

“Speed dating was a great way to meet such a variety of opportunities that this profession has to offer,” Deutsch said. “I really liked it. I loved it because it involved everyone from CART providers to federal officials, and they were so open about letting us ask whatever we wanted. As a student you don’t always to get those ask those questions.”


Lisa Black, Phyllis Craver-Lykken, RPR, and Liz Harvey, RPR

The NCRA STRONG Task Force shared the work they are doing to promote the profession.

Task force members NCRA STRONG Phyllis Craver-Lykken, RPR, and Liz Harvey, RPR, talked about how the group was formed and what they are doing.

“When you say someone should do something,” Harvey said, “that someone is us.”

The team wanted to put together a tool box of materials and tools to help promote the profession. Those tools include fliers, Power Point presentations, letters, and more.

They also encouraged attendees to use the tools. They said making the tools available isn’t enough, if no one uses them it won’t help.

They also said they are looking for volunteers from each state to represent their state and be a liaison to the task force.

Optimal Recording Formats – Creating the Best Video Record for Depositions

John Jensen, CLVS

John Jensen, CLVS, highlighted the optimal formats for recording a video deposition. He looked at everything from camera needs to audio needs to working with court reporters.

A Guide to Social Media for Post-Millennials

Lauren Lawrence, RPR, and Matthew Moss, RPR, led a session meant to help participants navigate the benefits and pitfalls of using social media.

They pointed out that social media can be used to promote a business or promote the profession of court reporting. They cautioned the need to avoid misrepresenting the profession and being careful about being negative.

Matthew Moss, RPR, Lauren Lawrence, RPR

They gave an overview of each social media platform and gave examples of some people doing a great job at sending out positive posts about the career of court reporting.

NCRA keynote speaker Erin Brockovich shares insights into “stick-to-itiveness”

NCRA 2019 Keynote Speaker Erin Brockovich
NCRA 2019 Keynote Speaker Erin Brockovich

Attendees at NCRA’s 2019 Convention & Expo held Aug. 15-18 in Denver, Colo., heard firsthand about making the movie Erin Brockovich from its namesake during the Premier Session. Brockovich, the renowned consumer advocate and environmental activist, addressed a packed room full of convention attendees and guests. She shared bits of her life story, how she learned to persevere, and who her major influencers were. She attributes those influencers to helping her later in life go from an unknown legal researcher into a 20th-century icon being the persistent force behind the largest medical settlement lawsuit in history.

Brockovich was a divorced single mother trying to make a living until she crossed paths with lawyer Ed Masry, a meeting that would change the course of both of their lives.

After hiring Masry & Vititoe to represent her in a traffic accident case that they won, Brockovich got a job at the law firm as a file clerk. It was while organizing papers on a pro bono real estate case that she first found medical records that would explode into the largest direct-action lawsuit in U.S. history. Utility giant Pacific Gas & Electric was forced to pay out $333 million in damages to more than 600 residents in Hinkley, Calif.

Brockovich began her talk to the session’s attendees by acknowledging the importance of the human court reporter’s presence and role in the courtroom to ensure an accurate record of the proceedings and added that she was always amazed when she had the chance to watch what they did.

She also shared what it has been like since the making of the movie some 15 years ago and told several funny stories about how she is recognized as herself, Erin Brockovich, when traveling, but confused with Julia Roberts, the actress who portrayed her in the film.

Brockovich attributed much of her ability to overcome personal obstacles such as being dyslexic to her mother who taught her the word “stick-to-itiveness.” Raised in Kansas, she said her mother was a journalist who was always there for her.

“I don’t like being told I cannot do this or do that. Because of being dyslexic, I was often teased. Today that is referred to as bullying. My self esteem started to tumble. It took my mom to teach me that just because you are different doesn’t mean you are inferior,” Brockovich said.

“That word altered my life. Life requires us to have it. We are not born with it. We need to develop the habit of perseverance.”

She said a teacher of hers was also one of the most influential people in her life because she thought out of the box. She realized that Brockovich was smart and that she listened — and that she knew the matter that was being taught in the classroom. Brockovich just couldn’t pass a written test. Her teacher figured out that if she gave the same test to Brockovich as an oral test, the student would pass with flying colors. That she said was another life-changing event that boosted her esteem.

“My dad was the other most influential person in my life. He was an environmental engineer. He taught me that health, family, water, and land to grow our food on, and air were the most important things. All of them are our moral compass.”

Brockovich said she is a fan of disruption because disruption causes change. She said that disruption causes people to rise up, look around, become aware, and oftentimes wonder how they can become involved in something bigger.

“Logic is common sense. When you follow it, you will logically do the right thing.”

She also said it is important to recognize how leveraging can be used to build a community in life and in work and that it is important to be loyal to a mission, your neighbor, and your community. By doing so you can make a huge difference in your own life and the lives of others.

Finally, Brockovich urged attendees to understand what motivates them to get up each day such as their families, their jobs, their ability to earn a living, to vacation, and to have homes.

“We love our country, clean water, and our freedom, and that is our motivator,” she said.

Brockovich told the audience that the film that carries her name and tells her story is accurate and that it was not about her but rather the community that leveraged together, motivated each other, and never lost their stick-to-itiveness to successfully win their law suit.

“What happened to those people is real, and it continues to be a problem throughout the country still,” she said.

As for questions unanswered by the film, Brockovich said she did not end up marrying the biker dude in real life, but she would have if he had looked like the guy who played him.

As president of Brockovich Research & Consulting, she is involved in numerous environmental projects worldwide. She has requests for her help in groundwater contamination complaints in every state of the United States, Australia, and other international hotspots. She is currently working on cases in California, Texas, Florida, Michigan, Illinois, and Missouri.

2019 Speed Contest results


Place Percentage
1Jeffrey Weigl, RMR, CRR, CRC 97.54%
2Patricia Nilsen, RMR, CRR, CRC, CRI 97.15%
3Traci Mertens, RDR, CRR, CRC 96.86%


1Jeffrey Weigl1998.27%
2Kathy Cortopassi, RMR, CRR, CRC 3197.18%
3Traci Mertens 3796.63%
4Karen Tyler, RDR, CRR, CRC3996.45%
5Donna Urlaub, RMR, CRR 4396.09%
6Diane Kraynak, RMR, CRR, CRC 4795.72%
6Kathryn Thomas, RDR, CRR, CRC4795.72%
7Patricia Nilsen4995.54%
8John Wissenbach, RDR, CRR, CRC 5295.27%
8Doug Zweizig, RDR, CRR5295.27%


1Patricia Nilsen1598.69%
2Traci Mertens4596.08%
3Jeffrey Weigl5195.56%


1Jeff Weigl1798.78%
2Traci Mertens3097.85%
3John Wissenbach3797.35%
4Patricia Nilsen3997.21%
5Diane Kraynak5696%
6Donna Urlaub6095.71%

* Contest results are preliminary.

Dave Wenhold talks about court reporting in interview from Convention

KGNU radio featured an interview Aug. 16 with Interim Executive Director Dave Wenhold from the 2019 NCRA Convention & Expo. To hear the interview, go to 13:20 in the audio file.

Read more.

There is a national speed competition for court reporters, and it happened right here in Denver

Channel 9 News reported Aug. 15 on the National Realtime Competition happening at the 2019 NCRA Convention & Expo.

Read more.

NCRA Elects 2019-2020 Officers at Annual Convention & Expo in Denver

The National Court Reporters Association announced that the following members have been elected and installed as 2019-2020 officers:

  • President: Max Curry, RPR, CRI, a court reporter and firm owner from Franklin, Tenn.
  • President-elect: Christine Phipps, RPR, a court reporter and firm owner from North Palm Beach, Fla.
  • Vice President: Debra A. Dibble, RDR, CRR, CRC, a freelance court reporter from Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Secretary-Treasurer: Kristin Anderson, RPR, an official court reporter from San Antonio, Texas

In addition, two new members of NCRA’s Board of Directors were also installed to serve three-year terms during the event. They include: Lance Boardman, RDR, CRR, Cleveland, Ohio, and Heidi Thomas, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, Acworth, Ga.

Also installed to serve a two-year term were Keith Lemons, FAPR, RPR, CRR, from Brentwood, Tenn., and Yolanda Walton, FAPR, RPR, from Norwalk, Ohio.

Jason Meadors, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC, from Fort Collins, Colo., was installed to serve a one-year term.

Returning directors include: Meredith A. Bonn, RPR, CRR, Webster, N.Y.; Cindy Isaacsen, RPR, from Shawnee, Kan.; Cathy Penniston, RPR, CRI, from Ottumwa, Iowa; and Sue A. Terry, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC, from Springfield, Ohio, NCRA Immediate Past President. The officers were installed during the 2019 NCRA Convention & Expo being held in Denver, Colo., Aug. 15-18.

Ongoing coverage of the NCRA 2019 Convention & Expo

NCRA 2019 Officers and Board Members

Keep up to date with voting results, award announcements, and more events currently taking place at the NCRA 2019 Convention & Expo in Denver, Colo.

Awards and scholarships

Information about voting

Special events

Media coverage