Deadline for NCRA photo contest extended

The deadline to submit photos for NCRA’s contest has been extended to July 27. It’s your chance to help NCRA find great images of court reporting, captioning, and legal video situations for potential use in marketing and other promotional materials.

NCRA is looking for talent among the membership to help provide high-quality, creative photos featuring steno machines and video equipment that can be used in various print and online marketing and promotional materials to promote the court reporting, captioning, and legal videography professions as well as NCRA’s overall mission. To help in the search, NCRA’s Communications & Marketing Team is kicking off the first in what could be several contests open to all NCRA members.

Prizes of $50 Amazon.com eGift cards for the winning photos will be awarded. The categories include: funniest, I love steno, most clever, best work environment, most interesting, and creative photos of CLVSs. Winners will be notified by email.

To assist with the task at hand, guidelines regarding how to submit entries, tips on backdrops, layout, lighting, samples, and more can be found on the NCRA website. All submissions must include a signed release form, which can also be found on the contest page. All submitted photos will be considered for use in print and online marketing and promotional materials, whether they win in their category or not.

Go ahead and take your best shot. You might just find yourself credited with a photo in one of NCRA’s promotional materials or even in an issue of the JCR Weekly or JCR magazine.

Owner of Alaris to be recognized for diversity and inclusion efforts

According to a July 7 press release, NCRA member Debbie Weaver, owner and CEO of Alaris, will be honored at the Missouri Lawyers Media Diversity & Inclusion Awards for her efforts in educating legal professionals on the importance of supporting diversity and inclusion.

Read more.

NCRA member participates in virtual career day

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle posted an article on May 27 about a virtual career day held by a group of court employees from the Kings County Supreme Court, including NCRA member Kiyoko Panzella, RPR, an official court reporter from Brooklyn, N.Y.

Read more.

NCRA member recognized in the news

A press release issued by NCRA was posted by The Montgomery Independent May 1, announcing that Tracye Blackwell, Montgomery, Ala., recently earned the Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) certification.

Read more.

New Professional Spotlight: Meghan Minnick


Meghan Minnick with her husband, Clayton, and their dog, Louie

By Emily Bergren

Meghan Minnick grew up in Ottawa, Kan., and is now a freelance reporter living in Kansas City, Mo.  She honed her determination and self-discipline to the fullest while attending an online program called Court Reporting and Captioning at Home (CRAH).  She has been an NCRA member from the time she was a student.  She is newly certified, having received her RPR this past fall, and has a real passion for the profession.

JCR | Do you have any advice for reporting students?

MM| Don’t play the comparison game! No one’s court reporting journey looks the same.  Also, practice every day.  If you miss a day, don’t beat yourself up, just don’t miss two. 

JCR | What’s your “can’t live without” item in your steno bag?

MM| My depobook! Yes, I’m still using paper. I love having names, case information, spellings, dates, orders, and business cards all in one spot. I have enough to worry about without having to track down all that information.

JCR | What is your biggest challenge as a new reporter?

MM| Learning how to be bold and to stand up for myself and the record in depositions.  I am a very shy and soft-spoken person, and it is against my nature to interrupt.  But I learned very quickly that it is absolutely necessary in order to create an accurate record.

JCR | How do you maintain a healthy work/life balance?

MM| I give myself an allotted amount of time to work, and I try to eliminate all distractions (mainly scrolling on my cell phone) during that allotted time in order to get as much work done as possible. I then put a hard stop at 5 o’clock so I can enjoy the rest of my evening with family.  Of course, there are always unavoidable circumstances that prevent this from being feasible every time, but it helps on most days. It is so easy to continue to work all through the evening just to “get it done,” but then you miss valuable “life” time.

JCR | What do you like to do when you’re not reporting?

MM| I love spending quality time with my husband and my dog.  I also paint landscapes, make earrings, and play the ukulele.

JCR | What do you love about your career?

MM| Every day is different; different testimony, buildings, cities, and people. I am never bored!

Emily Bergren, RPR, CRR, is a freelancer in Kansas City, Mo.

NCRA member is Ironman World Championship competitor

Ashley Zaccaro

NCRA members are known to be driven to succeed in their professional areas of work, but often they are also just as driven to succeed in their chosen hobbies and activities outside of work. Case in point is NCRA member Ashley Zaccaro, a 25-year-old official court reporter who resides in Brooklyn, N.Y. Originally from New Jersey, Zaccaro is also a certified yoga instructor, a published writer, a fur mom to two beautiful cats, and a bride-to-be with a wedding planned for October. But that’s not all. In between work and her other activities, Zaccaro, who took up running in 2011, is also an Ironman World Championship competitor.

The Ironman World Championship is a series of triathlon races that include a swim, a bike ride, and a run. The event is grueling, requiring competitors to cover a total of 70.3 miles over the course of the three legs of the race for a half Ironman and 140.6 miles for a full Ironman race.

The JCR Weekly recently caught up with her to find out more about what motivates her and what it’s like to be a world championship competitor.

JCR | How did you get involved with the Ironman World Championship?

AZ| I was training for my second full distance race when I was selected to go to the 2019 Ironman World Championship in Hawaii as the 2019 Women for Tri Inspirational Woman of the Year! Women for Tri is a nonprofit organization within the Ironman Foundation, Ironman’s giveback initiative, which seeks to remove boundaries that keep more women from becoming involved in triathlons. Part of how they do this is through grant funding to tri clubs and organizations that are doing more to involve women.

JCR | What year did you compete, and where was it held?

AZ| I became a runner in 2011 and, within a few months, began training for my first marathon, the New Jersey Marathon in Long Branch in 2012. My first triathlon ever was a women’s-only super sprint in New Orleans, La., that my running partner and I did sort of on a whim in 2014. But it wasn’t until 2017 that my triathlon ‘career’ really began. I competed in the New York City Triathlon that July, my first half Ironman the following year, 2018, in Lake Placid, N.Y., and then my first full Ironman in Patagonia, Chile, in December 2018, with many races in between and since.

JCR | Was 2019 your first time competing in this championship?

AZ | It was my first time competing in the World Championship!

JCR | What did you have to do to qualify?

AZ | I believe it’s something like 95 percent of participants qualified through placing 1st, maybe 2nd or 3rd depending on the race, in their age group in one of the Ironman races the previous year. I got in through a special slot, so I did not qualify that way. I raised more than $25,000 for Women for Tri as part of my entry. My goal is to qualify the traditional way in four years, but it’s really challenging!

JCR | How did you place in the 2019 Ironman World Championship?

AZ | I finished in 13 hours, 7 minutes, and 50 seconds. I came in 1869th place out of 2446 starters, 464th out of 610 females, and 45th out of 50 in my age group.

JCR | What motivates you now?

AZ | Training and racing are extremely therapeutic to me. It is the best thing for my mental health as well as my physical health, and it’s an outlet for me to deal with the stressors in my life. It builds my self-esteem. It gives me an amazing, supportive, strong community, and it just makes me so happy. Now more than ever I am grateful to have this outlet. Even though races are getting postponed, I’m finding myself and many of my triathlete friends are used to dealing with extreme conditions and are coping pretty well with it, generally.

JCR | Was this your first time competing?

AZ |This was my second full distance race, but I believe I’ve competed in 22 triathlons total, if my count is correct.

JCR | How long did you practice for?

AZ | For a full Ironman distance race, my training load averages around 20 hours a week. The winter is “off season,” so I focus more on strength and conditioning and recouping, but I train all year round.

JCR | Describe what a typical practice day was like for you.

AZ | During the week I usually have two workouts that last an hour and a half to two hours total. This could be a 45-minute swim and 45-minute weightlifting session, an hour bike and a half-hour run, for example. Saturdays are my long bike day, followed immediately by a shorter run; that’s called a “brick,” to do a bike straight into a run. For Ironman training, my long bike ride peaks at about a seven-hour ride. Sundays are usually a long run, which peaks around three and a half hours, a short easy bike session, and a recovery swim.

JCR | What would you say to others considering competing at this level?

AZ | I think most people competing in these sorts of distances would agree there are sacrifices you have to make, and you have to love the training. It’s a lifestyle. It’s not easy. But it builds so much more than muscle. For me, it is so worth it.

JCR | Do you think your profession as a court reporter, where you have to practice every day, aided in your being disciplined to practice for this competition?

AZ | I definitely think that everyone who made it through court reporting school has accessed that same part of your brain that we use as endurance athletes. Court reporting school is so tough and unforgiving, and it can feel never-ending, but to make it through we all had to push past the desire to give up, and that is something triathletes do as well. So yes, I’d say it either aided — or maybe it just makes sense that the kind of brain that would be drawn to court reporting would also thrive in an endurance event.

JCR | What is your best event?

AZ | I was naturally the best at cycling, but much to my surprise, my run has been where I’ve placed the highest overall lately! My transitions aren’t too shabby either.

JCR | What is your favorite event and why?

AZ | Of swimming, biking, and running, it honestly depends on the day, but I love how simple running is. Throw on shoes and go.

As far as which race I’ve done which is my favorite, that’s really tough. Patagonia was the experience of a lifetime. It was an extreme 140.6 race, so the swim was in cold water, the bike was up a mountain, and the run was a trail run that also went through a small lake at mile four of the run randomly. It was such a beautiful, special experience, and I’ll love it forever.

The world championship in Hawaii was such a celebration of triathlon. The whole week, Kailua-Kona just becomes triathlete village, and it was unbeatable. Also being in Hawaii was wonderful.

Chattanooga 70.3 in Tennessee I loved more than I can really understand. It was so open and free, and as someone who lives in a city, it was a great relief.

Lahti 70.3 in Finland was cool because it started at 4 p.m. but the sun stays up until midnight. I had a pretty rough race that day, but afterward my fiancé and I stayed in a yurt. Every race is a crazy adventure.

And Lake Placid 70.3 is a beautiful course, and there’s Olympic village stuff everywhere. It’s very inspiring to be there. The morning of the race the air was 30 degrees, but the lake was 70 degrees, so it was steaming like a hot tub and one of the coolest sights.

JCR | Do you plan to compete again? If so, when?

AZ | Oh, yes! I love competing. My next race was supposed to be Florida 70.3 but that was postponed due to coronavirus. Tulsa 140.6 in Oklahoma was after that and that got postponed. I’m planning to do Steelhead 70.3, age group national championships in Milwaukee, Wis., some other local races, and my hope was to qualify this year for the 70.3 World Championship in New Zealand, but everything is up in the air right now.

JCR | How did you learn about the court reporting profession?

AZ | I was working at a real estate law firm as an administrative assistant after abruptly deciding on my first day of university that I didn’t want to go to college. I was interested in law but didn’t want to be a lawyer. I had always typed really fast as a child and never expected that skill to come in handy. And I was obsessed with the Jodi Arias trial. I discovered court reporting existed from watching that. Two years later when I was planning to move to New York City, I was deciding whether I wanted to get a full-time job there or go to school, and I went to the court reporting school to inquire more about it. When I was there, the program director told me “It’s like playing a musical instrument,” and as an avid musician in high school, that sold me. I made my decision to enroll.

JCR | What court reporting program did you graduate from?

AZ | I graduated from New York Career Institute, now known as Plaza College.

JCR | How long have you worked as a court reporter?

AZ | Just over four years.

JCR | Have you always worked as an official?

AZ | I started at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office in New York as a grand jury stenographer in 2016 and went to Manhattan Family Court in 2018.

JCR | What court do you work in now?

AZ | I recently started at Manhattan Supreme Court Criminal Term, but because of the quarantine I haven’t actually begun working.

Ashely Zaccaro can be reached at ashleyczac@gmail.com.

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.

Hearing aids might be the key to my RPR

Callie Sajdera

By Callie Sajdera

My hearing problems were a huge challenge for me. I have been irritated and upset because I am constantly asking “what” to people all the time or asking them to please repeat themselves or just not answering. I have severe ringing in my ears, and it has affected the way I feel about getting up and going to work on any day. I noticed the ringing more prominently when I was in school. I have become a pretty good lip reader and a very context-focused person.

I decided to go get treatment when my boyfriend, Matt Moss, was helping me scope a rather large transcript that I needed help with. He suggested to me that maybe I have a really difficult time hearing women’s voices and that I should try to get my ears checked. He wasn’t wrong. I already knew that I struggled hearing women’s voices over men, and it was also difficult for me to comprehend fast-speaking people.

My official diagnosis was tinnitus (which I was already aware of) and moderately severe irreversible hearing loss. This came as a shock because now they can do several things to help improve people’s hearing, such as cochlear implants and so on. The doctor sent me straight next door to the hearing aid specialist and told me to start there. He didn’t really tell me he could do anything for me, although he is concerned that I am so young with such significant loss. I asked for a copy of my audiogram and the results showed that on the speaking scale I went from “normal range” straight down to “moderately severe hearing loss.” There really was no middle ground.

I was disheartened by the fact that I am 26 years old and needed to get hearing aids. I was nervous that people would see them and that it would be obvious. Not only was I concerned about the physical hearing aid, they are a small fortune. Getting my hearing aids have been the most life-changing thing I’ve done in my whole life. I never knew what I was missing out on because I could never hear it in the first place. With my hearing aids, I can listen to conversations and tune in without asking anyone to repeat what they said or try to piece it together on my own. They are so small, and they match my hair color so no one can even tell.

My practice and everyday work life have improved tenfold. I could instantly tell that my hearing was a huge barrier for me, and now that it is resolved, I feel like I can take on anything that work throws at me. I am in a practice club that has seen my frustrations with getting several 94 percent scores on my RPR speed legs. I have started practicing with over-the-ear headphones that cover my hearing aids, and I am so amazed with the progress already, and it’s been a week!

I am registered again for my RPR coming up in March. I already have the written leg, just need to get the speeds down. I have registered for all three tests (180, 200, and 225) to take this time around, and I am hoping to seal the deal on at least one of them! I am very positive and optimistic that it will happen for me this time. My ultimate goal for getting my full RPR is by the end of this year or sooner. Ideally, I’d love to get it before the NCRA Convention, so I can finally get an RPR sticker to put on my name badge!

I know a lot of students and working reporters have and do struggle with tinnitus. It is a huge barrier, especially in our career. I just want to add that barriers come in all shapes and sizes, but if you love what you do, you’re willing to do whatever it takes to constantly improve.

Callie Sajdera is an official reporter with the Denver District Court in Denver, Colo.

New Professional Profile: Tatelyn Noda

Tatelyn Noda, RPR

My name is Tatelyn Noda, RPR, and I am an official court reporter for the First Judicial Circuit of Alabama. I graduated from Prince Institute in Montgomery, Ala., in 2014 and worked briefly in Alabama as a freelance reporter before moving to Miami, Fla. I continued in freelance until I accepted an officialship in August of 2018.

JCR | How did you hear about court reporting and what made you choose that career path?

TN | My mom had a friend who freelanced, and she mentioned it to me in the seventh grade. At the start of my eighth-grade year, my parents and I toured Prince Institute. I fell in love with the profession. I immediately started college after finishing high school and never looked back. I could never sufficiently repay my mom for guiding me in the right direction and for always being by my side through college, freelancing, and official reporting. 

JCR | What is your next career goal?

TN | I’m currently practicing daily for the RMR and CRR. After that, on to the RDR!

JCR | When you’re not behind your steno machine, what do you do with your free time?

TN | My husband, Carlos, and I spend all of our free time with our boys: Harrison, Everett, and Walker. We enjoy traveling, visiting family, and renovating our historical home.

JCR | How has being involved with state or national associations benefitted you?

TN | Being involved with your state and national association is key to creating long-lasting friendships within our industry. Being involved has kept me up to date on topics and advances surrounding our profession and has even helped me implement new techniques in the way that I write.

JCR | Tell us about your favorite depo and/or location you’ve worked.

TN | My favorite job was a deposition of a very well-known restaurateur. I had absolutely no idea who the deponent was until I scoped the file. Looking back, he was so humble and just an overall nice person. I will never forget that deposition. My favorite location? The Florida Keys! I would never turn down an opportunity to write in paradise! I’d always make sure to stop by and pick up a key lime pie before heading back to Miami.

JCR | After freelancing for a couple of years, what was something you had to get used to when working in your role as an official?

TN | I had to get used to the criminal testimony and domestic matters. Before becoming an official, I only dealt with civil matters. Going from white-collar disagreements to crime scene photos took a little getting used to.

JCR | Who is your mentor, and how have they helped you along the way?

TN | Renda Cornick is my steno hero. She’s a phenomenal writer, reporter, wife, mom, and friend. She never passes up an opportunity to cheer me on in my career and in my personal life. As a newer reporter, she has really been an inspiration to me.

Janet Russo has helped shape me into the reporter I am today. She took me under her wing and has taught me so much. She always made time for me when I had a question and would always look over any work I was unsure of. I am forever thankful — and grateful — for all of the time and knowledge she has shared with me.

Rhonda Hall-Breuwet, RDR, CRR, a freelancer in Lakeland, Fla., has always been there for me when it comes to all things reporting, especially Florida reporting and realtime. She really pushed me to get my certifications and has always helped me whenever needed. I dream of being on her realtime level. She is a phenomenal reporter!

JCR | Any advice for students?

TN | Strive for perfection, but please know that no one is perfect. Learn your software, retain a seasoned accountant, always be professional, and start testing for certifications as soon as possible. Be nice to everyone you meet and always wear a smile!

In NCRA member’s sixth mystery novel, legal secretary Jamie Winters is at it again

Jamie Winters, a legal secretary and amateur sleuth, is at it again in Death by Diamonds, the recent installment of a mystery series authored by NCRA member Kelly Nasuti, RMR, CRR, CRC. The latest installment, released Feb. 25, marks the sixth mystery by Nasuti, a full-time captioner who writes under the pen name Kelly Rey. The novel is published by Gemma Halliday Publishing.

In this latest crime novel, Winters realizes that diamonds are not always a girl’s best friend when a dead body shows up on her boyfriend Curt’s patio … with a pocket full of diamonds! The dead woman was an old college friend of Curt’s, and the deeper Winter digs, the more it appears someone was out to get her. With the help of her teenage sidekick, Maizy, Winters tries to determine if Amber, the dead woman, was an innocent victim or a jewel thief. And as the case leads them to a shady pawnshop and its shadier staff, Winters realizes no one is whom they appear to be, and everyone is a suspect. Was it the wannabe-mobster owner, his long-suffering wife, his spoiled daughter, the gold-obsessed clerk, or the inscrutable security guard? Or possibly it was the owner’s hired muscle nicknamed the Disposer … who just may dispose of Winters and Maizy. One thing is for sure: The killer will stop at nothing to reclaim those diamonds, and if she isn’t careful, Winters could just be the next target in the way!

Nasuti said she has written stories ever since she could write. What keeps her motived is that writing has always been a constant for her and “a source of both absolute joy and teeth-gnashing frustration at various times. At this point, writing about Jamie and Maizy and company is like revisiting old eccentric friends. And while I have other projects lined up, I’m really fortunate to be able to keep dipping into their lives and relating their latest adventure.”

Motion for Murder, Nasuti’s first mystery novel released in 2014, introduced readers to Winters in a story laced with humor, wit, a dose of romance, and a murder. In Nasuti’s second novel, Motion for Malice, Winters solves the murder of Dorcas Beeber, a psychic medium who was found dead from an apparent blow to the head by her own crystal ball.

Winters tracks down clues to solve the murder of Kay Culverson, a low-budget cable talk show host who is found dead in her office in Motion for Madness, the third novel in the series. In Motion for Mischief, Nasuti’s fourth novel, Winters solves the murder of Oxnard Thorpe, the Adult Diaper King of New Jersey and one of her firm’s most important clients, after he is found dead in the swimming pool of his sprawling mansion on his wedding night.

In A Playboy in Peril,  Winters has never heard of Virtual Waste, a local New Jersey Pinelands area band, until their drummer is murdered backstage at a show and Winters’ teenaged sidekick, Maizy, sees the killer. While Winters’ landlord, Curt, fills in with the band, Winters and Maizy must deal with the victim’s disgruntled bandmates, discarded groupies, an ex-Marine bouncer, an unhinged Einstein look-alike, an emotionally overwrought agent, an ill-tempered giant, and even the Jersey Devil, as they track down the killer before Maizy becomes the next victim.

Nasuti, who is an official USA Today bestselling author, said she has no set number of books she plans to write in the series but plans to keep on writing as long as people are reading them.

Along with the Jamie Winters series, she’s also been co-authoring the Marty Hudson mysteries with New York Times bestselling author Gemma Halliday. The second Marty Hudson mystery, Sherlock Holmes and the Disappearing Diva, was released in late 2018.

Nasuti, who has been a court reporter since 1983, operated as Regional Reporting Inc. until 2005 when she joined VITAC. Nasuti is also a member of Sisters in Crime, a group that promotes the ongoing advancement, recognition, and professional development of women crime writers.

All of Nasuti’s books are available in e-book format for Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, iBooks, Kobo, and Smashwords. They are also available in paperback at Amazon.comCreateSpace.com, and other online retailers.