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

Retired Lifetime NCRA member Terry Lynn Jones passes

The Jackson Hole News & Guide reported on April 3 that retired NCRA member Terry Lynn Jones, Jackson Hole, Wyo., an official state court reporter for 38 years, passed away on March 26.  

Read more.

NCRA members find working as extras helps promote the profession

Working as an extra on a TV show or movie is a great way for NCRA members to promote the wonderful work being done by court reporters and captioners every day. It can also be a lot of fun. Two NCRA members recently told the JCR Weekly about their experiences being extras.

Helga Lavan

Helga Lavan

Helga Lavan, RPR, is a freelancer in Woodbury, Conn.

JCR | What show were you an extra in and when?

HL | The Code, premiering April 9 on CBS. It was filmed in November of 2018.

JCR | How long were you part of filming?

HL | The courtroom scene was filmed for 13 hours on one sitting. One of the leading actors (Anna Wood) had to walk past me as she cross-examined a witness in a courtroom scene.

JCR | Can you give us a description of the scene?

HL | It was a courtroom scene at Judge Advocate General Headquarters in Quantico. Everyone was in Marine uniforms. A star witness is being examined and cross-examined, and the jury is given closing arguments. I kept writing everything I heard, and new words and names of places would come up that weren’t in my dictionary. Of course, I wasn’t plugged in and by the tenth hour my battery died. But it was the same lines over and over again. It brought me back to my school years practicing the same tapes to get it perfect!

JCR | Did you provide your own equipment?

HL | Yes, I provided my own equipment. I get a “bump” of extra compensation by bringing my own equipment. After being in holding for quite some time, I was called down and directed to set up behind a huge square desk, far, far away from the witness stand! I already was dismayed at that. The scene director pointed me to my place, the far end of the room near to where the bailiff was stationed. Clearly not a good setup in the real world but this was TV land, and so I began setting up. He asked me to set up the machine on top of the table. This may sound funny, but I told him it’s not done that way. I have a tripod. And so I set up, and the table I was at totally blocked everything from my chest down. If I would’ve set the machine up on the table (without the tripod), it would’ve been at neck height. Set director came back around and said, “Oh, is that how it’s done? It’s on a tripod?” I said yes. So the whole scene was shot and my machine was under and behind a huge desk the whole time!

JCR | Can you give us more details about how filming went, if you interacted with the actors, would you do it again, and anything else you would like to share?

HL | I would totally do this again. I had to be fitted and wore a Marine uniform complete with medals. I haven’t been able to accept other casting calls, one of them Billions, because of the busy lifestyle I have of owning a business. I’m still freelancing as well as training for marathons. But if another opportunity presents itself, I surely would do it again. Some of the cast members, especially Wayne Duvall, were so intrigued when they realized I was a true court stenographer. Many of the cast members saw me, a new person, on set and went out of their way to introduce themselves and welcome me. They had so many questions and couldn’t believe a real court reporter was on set. What I noticed most was how energetic, gracious, and professional cast members were, filming into the wee hours of the night, and yet they kept a positive attitude, had fun between takes by making each other laugh, and never complained. They had perseverance. I got to see the not-so-glamorous side of filming, and at the same time everyone cooperated and did their jobs. A truly wonderful yet exhausting experience!

Kate Cochran

Kate Cochran

Kate Cochran, RPR, is a freelancer and CART captioner in Decatur, Ga.

JCR | What show were you an extra in and when?

KC | The show is Insatiable, a Netflix series still on today. It was March 22, 2017. A friend and colleague of mine shared on social media that a casting agency was looking for a court reporter. Heck, why not?

JCR | How long were you part of filming?

KC | I was lumped with all the extras. We were there all day. Super early for the hair, wardrobe, and makeup people to assess you. However, you bring your own clothes and makeup for them to decide on. It was at least 12 hours, most of which was waiting in the wings. Similar to how it can happen at work, there was a lot of downtime. I was prepared with transcripts and proofreading that kept me busy the whole day.

JCR | Can you give us a description of the scene?

KC | It was a court scene in a rather large courtroom. I was to sit in an old wooden chair in front of the judge, witness stand, etc., which was a real place of prominence over all the other extras, who merely filled a row or two in the room. Ironically, I’ve never worked in court, but this was just pretend, of course.

JCR | Did you provide your own equipment?

KC | Yes, I brought my own equipment, for which I was compensated a very small amount. I was told they had a writer that was probably older than myself. But, honestly, the whole point of my signing on to do this was to promote an accurate image of our profession and show that we don’t all look like old librarians.

JCR | Can you give us more details about how filming went?

KC | I was actively on set for about two hours, during which they filmed the same two-minute scene over and over again. In this instance, every time you get a new camera angle in a given scene, it was another shoot with another lens. It makes for a very tedious process. My biggest surprise: The actors’ microphones are so sophisticated that they barely spoke above a whisper. I couldn’t hear half of the lines! My solution was to create my own dialogue in my head and just keep typing away. Again, pretend.

While on set, nearly the whole production team (first director, second director, etc.) came up and said hey to me. They all said, “You really do this for a living? That’s amazing!” Everyone was impressed despite not seeing me actively doing anything but typing on my keys. If only I could have given them a realtime feed! 

We were fed really well on set. Morning meant breakfast and coffee. Lunch and dinner were nice catered events (extras go through last). And midday meant snack time of hot quesadillas. Oh, and there’s a candy stand too!

Spending all day with full-time extras was entertaining. It was a funny collection of 20-somethings and retirees. They loved sharing stories about their experiences, rattling off lists of what shows or movies they’ve participated in. Us newbies were cautioned to not expect to get in the frame. No matter how close you get to the actors, it just never happens. Atlanta has a huge movie/TV industry, so you can really fill your schedule being an extra. The casting company said they’d love for me to register at their office, as there is steady work being a court reporter extra. However, I felt like I paid my dues for now. I really give the production company credit for making the effort of filling the spot with someone authentic.

Did I get on the show? The show didn’t drop on Netflix for at least a year. I haven’t watched it because it looks kind of silly. My husband found my episode and discovered that I did earn a brief shot on screen.

Register for the WKT by March 31

There are only four days left to sign up for your Written Knowledge Test for RPR, CLVS, RDR or CRC certifications. Register by March 31 to take the test between April 9 and 23, 2019.

“May is NCRA’s Celebrate Certification Month, a time for each of us to showcase our certifications and feel the pride that comes with holding them,” said Allison A. Kimmel, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, Chair of the Written Knowledge Test Committee. “Now is the perfect time to register for a WKT and be ready to celebrate your certifications with your peers in May. The members of the  Written Knowledge Test Committee encourage everyone, whether this is your first move toward certification or your fourth, to register now and test. You will be glad you did.”

Keep in mind that for the upcoming April WKTs, NCRA has released new RPR and RDR Job Analyses. The Job Analyses describe the domains, associated tasks, and knowledge essential for working in the field every day. The Job Analyses serve as the blueprint for the Written Knowledge Tests. Candidates must review NCRA’s Job Analysis for the appropriate certification. Questions on the WKT are directly tied to the Job Analysis for each credential.

Check out these tips for passing the test. Register today to take the test in April and be ready to celebrate Certification Month in May.

NCRA member named honorary bailiff for Kansas Supreme Court special session

A press release issued March 25 by the Kansas County Courts Office of Judicial Administration announced that NCRA member Mary Kay Howe, RMR, an official court reporter from Lawrence, Kan., has been named an honorary bailiff for a special session of the state’s Supreme Court.

Read more.

Nominate someone special to be CASE Educator of the Year or a Fellow of the Academy of Professional Reporters

Now is the time to recognize someone special! Every year, NCRA offers members several opportunities to bring attention to the people who are contributing to the profession in important ways. The Council on Approved Student Education (CASE) is seeking nominees for Educator of the Year, and the Council of the Academy of Professional Reporters (CAPR) wishes to recognize court reporters and captioners who have made significant contributions to the professions. CASE and CAPR are committees supported by NCRA.  

CASE Educator of the YearThis special award is for a court reporting instructor. Was there someone special who inspired you, who got you through the ups, downs, and plateaus of your court reporting classes? If your teacher was an incredible influence in your getting started, now is the time to say thank you by nominating that special someone for the CASE Educator of the Year Award. Nominations close April 1.

Fellow of the Academy of Professional ReportersIf you know a dedicated court reporter or captioner who has contributed to the profession in a big way over the years, nominate that person as a Fellow. Candidates must be active practitioners in the field and have at least 10 years of experience. Criteria for nomination include the publication of important papers, legislative or creative contributions to the field, and service on committees or boards. Nominations close April 1.

Apply for NCRA scholarships, including the all-new NCRA A to Z scholarship

Each year, NCRA offers members several scholarships to support students as they work to become professional court reporters and captioners. In addition to offering the annual scholarships managed by the Council on Approved Student Education (CASE), the National Court Reporters Foundation has initiated an all-new scholarship to help students who have completed the NCRA A to Z™ Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program with the next step in their training.

Applications must be submitted for these two scholarships by April 1, so don’t hesitate!

CASE scholarships. Five scholarships are available. Students attending an NCRA-approved court reporting program and writing between 140 and 180 wpm are encouraged to apply for this scholarship. Teachers and mentors, let them know that you see their potential. The application period closes April 1.  

NCRA A to Z ™ scholarshipsUp to 10 students will receive a $500 scholarship. Qualified applicants must have completed the NCRA A to Z™ Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program as well as pass a skills test writing between 60 and 100 wpm, among other eligibility requirements. Nominations close April 1.

Scholarships are supported by funds from the National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF).

Is your information for the 2019-2020 NCRA Sourcebook correct?

If you don’t know the answer to this question, it’s time to check your listing on

If you have moved, started a new job, or just haven’t looked at the new site recently, it’s time to review your print and online NCRA Sourcebook profile.

NCRA provides both the print and online NCRA Sourcebook to help lawyers, paralegals, court reporting and captioning firms, members of the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, and other court reporters find NCRA members. Don’t be left out of these important resources. Update your profile today!

The deadline to update your information for inclusion in the print NCRA Sourcebook is April 15. You can update your online NCRA Sourcebook listing anytime you have a change in circumstance.

Instructions for updating your information

  • Log on to using your NCRA ID# and your password. Forgot your password? Scroll down to the section “Need help signing in?” and follow the instructions.
  • Hover over your name and click on “My Profile” below your name.
  • Update your contact details.
  • Update any services you offer by clicking on “Manage My Services” at the bottom of the screen.
  • Click “Save” to update your contact details and services.
  • Click on “My NCRA,” then on “My Sourcebook Listings.” Click on the green “Edit” box to the left of your listing.
  • Update the details you want to appear in your NCRA Sourcebook listing and click on “Save.”

Please check your information under both “My Main Profile” and “My Sourcebook Listings.” The “My Sourcebook Listings” information is used for both the online and print NCRA Sourcebook.

If you wish to purchase additional member listings in the Member Directory, premium or box listings in the Business Directory, or display advertising for the print 2019–2020 NCRA Sourcebook, please contact  by May 1.

A few last notes about updating your Sourcebook listings.

Your credentials can only be updated by NCRA staff, and state credentials are not listed in the NCRA Sourcebook. For accuracy and security purposes, we cannot accept verbal changes over the phone. If you have questions about your information, please email

Natalie Dippenaar is  NCRA’s Director, Membership & IT. She can be reached at

NCRA announces 2019-2020 slate of nominees

NCRA announced the slate of nominees selected by its Nominating Committee to serve in 2019-2020. The upcoming year includes nominations for president-elect, vice president, secretary-treasurer, two director seats for a three-year term, two director seats for a two-year term, and one director seat for a one-year term. The current president-elect, Max Curry, RPR, CRI, Franklin, Tenn., automatically ascends to the presidency.

Additional nominations are possible if received within 60 days after publication of the Nominating Committee slate. Petitions should include the member’s name, credentials, and the position they are considering. For the director positions, please indicate the term length; that is, three-year, two-year, or one-year. The date by which additional nominations must be received is May 12. Please refer to Article VIII, Section 3, of the Constitution and Bylaws for more information.

The slate of officers includes:

  • President-Elect: Christine D. Phipps, RPR, North Palm Beach, Fla.
  • Vice President: Debra A. Dibble, RDR, CRR, CRC, Woodland, Utah
  • Secretary-Treasurer: Kristin Anderson, RPR, San Antonio, Texas

Nominated to serve Director terms are:

Two nominees for a three-year term:

  • Lance A. Boardman, RDR, CRR, Cleveland, Ohio
  • Heidi Thomas, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, Acworth, Ga.

Two nominees for a two-year term:

  • Keith Lemons, FAPR, RPR, CRR, Brentwood, Tenn.
  • Yolanda Walton, FAPR, RPR, Norwalk, Ohio

 One nominee for a one-year term:

  • Jason Meadors, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC, Fort Collins, Colo.

Due to changes to NCRA’s Constitution & Bylaws put into effect in 2018, members will now be able to vote for a time period of 24 hours. In addition, voting will occur at least 30 days before the Annual Business Meeting, which is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 15, in Denver, Colo. More information on how and when to vote will be provided in the coming weeks.

New NCRA member Darcy Thornburg wins Echo Dot

Darcy Thornburg is the winner of the February NCRA membership promotion. She was chosen from a random drawing of new members who joined in February and won an Echo Dot. She is a scopist from Graniteville, S.C., and owns Thornburg Proofreading, LLC.

JCR | Why did you choose this career?

Darcy Thornburg

DT | I became a scopist because I was interested in all aspects of what happens to a transcript after the reporter has taken down the steno. I had never even heard of scopists until after I was working as a proofreader for a few months, but I knew as soon as I did hear of them that I wanted to become one.

JCR | What interested you about it?

As someone with a degree in linguistics (specifically having learned phonetics/phonology), I liked learning to read steno, even though I am not sure I could type on a steno machine. I’ve been ten-finger QWERTY typing for so long that I feel it’s one of those habits that will be too difficult to bend for a new type of keyboard.

JCR | Why do you think being a member is useful for scopists?

We have access to not only the directory of reporters, but also the same resources those reporters need in order to do their jobs well. This access for scopists helps us to make certain we are providing what our clients need, as well as what they want.

JCR | Has anything not been what you expected?

I did not have any expectations going in, but I can certainly say that winning an Echo Dot was unexpected.

JCR | Any fun things happened as an NCRA member?

I won a cool smart speaker device thing.

JCR | What advice do you have for future court reporters and scopists?

Talk to people who aren’t native speakers of English or who speak different English dialects. Listen to the words they say, and ask them what they mean if you aren’t certain. This practice will help you to take down as many different dialects and/or accents as possible accurately.