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.

2019 Realtime Contest results


Place %
1Doug Zweizig, RDR, CRR  98.4%
2Mark Kislingbury, FAPR, RDR, CRR 97.45%
3Jeffrey Weigl, RMR, CRR, CRC 97.3%
4Traci Mertens, RDR, CRR, CRC 96.5%
5Linda Riffle, RDR, CRR, CRC 95.45%


Place Errors %
1Dee Boenau, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC 899.2%
2Jeffrey Weigl1498.6%
3Doug Zweizig1598.5%
4Mark Kislingbury1898.2%
5Patrick Mahon, RMR, CRR2897.2%
6Karla Ray, RMR, CRR, CRC, CRI3097%
6Traci Walker, RMR, CRR, CRC3097%
7Kathy Cortopassi, RMR, CRR, CRC3796.3%
7Traci Mertens3796.3%
7Patricia Nilsen, RMR, CRR, CRC, CRI3796.3%
8Ron Cook, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC3996.1%
9Linda Riffle4195.9%
10Sheri Smargon, RDR, CRR, CRC4595.5%


1Doug Zweizig1998.31%
2Mark Kislingbury3796.71%
2Traci Mertens3796.71%
3Jeffrey Weigl4596%
4John Wissenbach, RDR, CRR, CRC4995.64%
5Linda Riffle5795%

* Contest results are preliminary.

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.

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.

Bruce A. Matthews Honored with NCRA 2019 Distinguished Service Award

Bruce Matthews, FAPR, RDR, CRR, and Sue Terry, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC

The National Court Reporters Association announced Bruce A. Matthews, FAPR, RDR, CRR, a retired court reporter from Lakewood, Ohio, as its 2019 Distinguished Service Award winner. Matthews was honored at a special awards ceremony held at NCRA’s annual Convention & Expo taking place in Denver, Colo.

The NCRA DSA recognizes the distinguished work and service by an individual member for the benefit of the court reporting profession, including service to NCRA as a member, a committee member, a director, or an officer of the association. Other displays of distinguished work include contributing to the JCR, service at the state or local court reporters association, or in the field of public relations or public affairs. Award winners are nominated by their peers and are recognized at NCRA’s Convention & Expo.

Matthews began is career in 1973 after graduating from Clark State College. Among Matthew’s most notable reporting assignments have been covering  Kent State Grand Jury hearing, the bankruptcy trial of American businessman Daniel H. Overmyer, numerous toxic shock syndrome cases, a lower Lake Erie Antitrust case, and patent depositions. He also took the deposition of Art Modell, former owner of the NFL Cleveland Browns on why the NFL Oakland Raiders should not move to Los Angeles, Calif.

Matthews has also presented numerous seminars about technology, ethics, and realtime.

Active at the national level, Matthews is a past president of NCRA and has served on a number of the Association’s committees as a member or as chair including the Legislative, Resolutions, Finance, Nominating, Realtime, Contests, Convention and Constitution & Bylaws committees. He has also served on numerous advisory and task forces, and is a past NCRA Secretary-Treasurer, and past chair of the National Court Reporters Foundation Board of Trustees.

At the state level, Matthews is a past president of the Ohio Court Reporters Association (OCRA) where he has served on numerous of its committees. He is also involved in the state’s A to Z(TM) Intro to Machine Shorthand program.  

He is the recipient of numerous awards including the past president’s awards from OCRA and NCRA, and the Past Chair Award given by NCRF. He is the only member of OCRA to have received the Glenn Stiles Distinguished Service Award and the Martin Fincum Award in the same year.

Matthews and his wife, Deborah, have three daughters and one son.

NCRA member is candidate in local council race

NCRA member Mindy Moore, a freelance court reporter and firm owner from Warren, Mich., was quoted in an article posted by the Macomb Daily profiling candidates running for the local city council.

Read more.

Local college launching court reporter program in response to growing shortage

NCRA members Jennifer Dunn, RPR, an official court reporter from Creve Coeur, Mo., and Cindy Taylor, a freelance court reporter from St. Charles, Mo., are featured in a story aired by KMOV Channel 4 on July 30 about the launch of a new court reporting program at St. Charles Community College in response to the nationwide growing shortage of professionals.

Read more.

NCRA member making her dream a reality with Stenovate

Lauren Lawrence, seated, with Karen Fenaroli of the Fenaroli Minverva Fund and Karen’s husband, Paul.

Lauren Lawrence, RPR, from Kansas City, Mo., recently started a new business, Stenovate. She told JCR Weekly more about it.

JCR | Can you give us a little information about Stenovate?

LL | Stenovate is the only organization and collaboration platform built specifically for legal transcript professionals. There are two major benefits: First is streamlined project management. We designed a tool that allows reporters, scopists, and proofreaders to work together seamlessly on a single platform. Second, we’re in the process of building a freelance marketplace for finding help and picking up extra work. The marketplace will include professional profiles, ratings and reviews, and a job board so that it’s easy to find good help. The idea for Stenovate has been in my mind for years, but we’ve only been in development since December of 2018.

JCR | What made you see a need for Stenovate?

LL | Over the last six years, as I hunted for the perfect unicorn scopist and proofreader, I started to get really frustrated with the process. It takes effort to find good help. You can spend a lot of time vetting someone, and it still may not be the right fit. Then add in all the disjointed tools we needed to collaborate: Facebook, email, Dropbox, text, PayPal, etc. Everyone has a slightly different system, so it was tough to get on the same page and be truly efficient.

Finally, when I learned about the reporter shortage, I realized how important it was that reporters maximize their time doing what they do best: reporting. I started talking to a lot of people on the phone, asking about the tools they used, what they would like to improve about their process, and what the “perfect” tool would look like. Their feedback was fantastic, and the need for a new solution was clear. I just had to figure out how to make it happen.

JCR | Tell us about the big news of a new investor.

LL | When I started looking into creating Stenovate, I had no idea the amount of capital and connections it would take to make it successful, but I was determined to help reporters. So I started self-funding the project, but I knew that wouldn’t be sustainable if we wanted to make a great product. I knew the court reporting community was supportive. After all, we have more than 500 people on Stenovate’s waitlist, but there comes a point when you have to go out on a limb and look to the business community to see if anyone believes in you and your idea enough to back you up financially. Karen Fenaroli, my initial investor, is a crusader for small, women-owned businesses, and she was the first one to take a chance on Stenovate and on me. We all have to start somewhere, but if we have capital and support, it allows us to be user-focused. This opens the door for other opportunities that help us improve our product faster.

JCR | What will the new investment allow you to do?

LL | It takes a lot of brains and a lot of hours to build something like Stenovate. I’ve recently brought in a few amazing women to help me. While I know and love everything about court reporting, I’m not a software designer, a business analyst, or a client success manager. Those are really important roles, and our new investment is allowing Stenovate to establish a solid team of smart, compassionate, and innovative leaders who aim to help our community thrive.

JCR | Are you still looking for investors?

LL | The short answer: Yes. I’d be happy to talk to anyone seriously interested, especially if they can offer industry insight in addition to capital. We’re looking for strategic investors who can help guide us to do what is best for our users and the transcript community as a whole. Our industry is at an inflection point. With Stenovate, we have an opportunity to empower our users and benefit the industry at the same time.

JCR | What are next steps for Stenovate?

LL |We’re launching Early Access for our beta users Aug. 6! For the next 30 days, we’ll be hanging onto their every word of feedback and making continuous improvements. Then we will open up the platform to the public so that everyone can work better together. The current version of Stenovate has the project management component, but we’re furiously building the freelance marketplace as we speak. We have lots of other little features up our sleeve that we can’t talk about quite yet. We’re working as fast as we can, and we’ll keep you updated as we launch new features. If you haven’t already, join the waitlist at www.stenovate.com to stay in the loop!

JCR | What is your court reporting background, and are you still working as a court reporter?

LL |I graduated from AIB College of Business in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in court reporting and moved straight to Kansas City to start freelancing. I remember getting my first reporting job from a phone interview without a résumé. They really needed the help! Since then, I have focused on building my dictionary and getting realtime ready. Providing realtime has allowed me to cover big trials, have a transcript about Trump in the Huffington Post, and even travel abroad to places like Italy and Peru. It’s been a total whirlwind!

Now, I’m reporting very little due to Stenovate’s major time demand, which means I’m not getting paid either! Startups are not a walk in the park or for the faint of heart, but if I can keep my team paid, I can skip vacation and live on PB&J. Have you ever tried something and then wondered how you ever lived without it? I know that’s going to be Stenovate. I’m so inspired by the court reporting community’s work ethic. My sole purpose right now is to save us time and headaches. I know how hard we work. I know how bad we need this. As my mother always says, “I’m here to help.”

Melinda Walker honored in Congress

NCRA member Melinda Walker, RPR, CMRS, was recognized in the July 24 Congressional Record by Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland on the occasion of her retirement as Chief Reporter of the Debates. She was also recognized on July 22 by Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California.

See Rep. Hoyer’s speech here.