14 years after Fulton County Courthouse killings, security improvement efforts continue

Alcovy Circuit Superior Court Judge Samuel Ozburn, Fulton County, Ga., spoke with WABE on March 11 about improvements in courthouse safety throughout the state since a courthouse killing 14 years ago that took the life of NCRA member Julie Ann Brandau and others.

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Lexitas acquires Barrister Reporting Service

Lexitas, Houston, Texas, announced in a press release issued March 14 that the firm has acquired Barrister Reporting, headquartered in New York.

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Grab your bucket!

Dave Wenhold

By Dave Wenhold

During my 20 years of being an advocate for the court reporting and captioning professions, I am consistently impressed with those members who step up and serve on a committee or the Board. I would personally like to thank every one of you who has served (at NCRA or on the state level) and tried to make a difference for their fellow reporters. It’s not an easy task and not for the faint of heart for sure. 

What most people don’t know about Board or committee service is the hundreds or thousands of hours these members give back to the profession, with zero compensation. Yep, they get nada, zip, nil, nothing, zilch! These dedicated souls also tend to give us their vacation or personal time to participate in conference calls or meetings at night and over weekends to try and make your profession better. Who in their right mind would sign up for that? Really great and dedicated people, that’s who!

Additionally, to help these dedicated Board members with their role, NCRA is fortunate to have a dedicated and committed staff. Together with the Board, they implement the policies and directives of the Board. The enormous amount of work that is accomplished by staff is truly impressive, and in my role as Interim Executive Director, I get to see that volume up close and personal. Think about what it takes to support just the 13,000 individual members and their needs (certification, CEUs, payments, invoices, communications, training, conventions, the JCR, student programs, maintaining membership records, responding to negative PR about the profession, as well as supporting the Board, lobbying decision-makers about the profession and assisting state associations, and so much more). With a very small staff, they get a lot accomplished. As they say in politics, this is how the sausage is made.

So why do I tell you all of this? Because this is your profession, and you need to play an active role in it. I can’t tell you the number of times that I have heard “Well, NCRA (or insert a state association) should take care of that or someone needs to do something about it.” This is the tough love portion of this article: You are that someone! The profession is only as strong as its members and the perceptions of those in the field that the public interacts with. Believe it or not, you– and every court reporter and captioner — are NCRA (and your state association) and are the image of profession. That is the truth. Every time you show up to a deposition, in court, providing CART or captioning, you are the ambassador of your profession and by default your associations. 

Often an interaction with a reporter ingrains an image into a person’s mind of what they think a court reporter does. We both know that most people have no idea what you do or how difficult it is. Then think about it: If you took just one minute every day to educate a lawyer, judge, witness, child, or a potential reporting student about what you do and the importance of the record what a difference you could make as that ambassador. You have 1,440 minutes in every day, can’t you spare one? You might say “that’s not my job”; but, in the end, if you don’t help influence people that can help you, it could cost you a job. It’s really that simple. If you don’t try to improve your situation, who will?

I am also going to let you in on a little secret. NCRA and your state associations are really there to help you. There is no ivory tower, no conspiracy theories, no star chamber where the Board members plot the downfall of the association. These are your colleagues and working reporters doing their very best to make the best decisions for the industry as a whole. They face the same day-to-day challenges you do with their paying jobs, and in their not-so-free time, they attempt to make your lives better by helping lead the Association and industry into the future.

As the Board and NCRA staff work to move NCRA forward into version 2.0 of the Association, I ask that you raise your hand and offer to help in some small way. Everyone has something to contribute. Everyone has a great idea or can offer some constructive advice or, better yet, be part of the solution and serve on a committee or the Board. 

I came back to NCRA to serve in this role for one reason: I love the profession. I definitely didn’t need to for my own business, but I believe in the people and the role you play in the system. But we all can’t do it by ourselves. We need you.

In closing, I am going to use a line from yet another person that came back to help NCRA steer the ship. NCRA Board member Jason Meadors, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC, reminded me that when a storm hits, and the ship is leaking a little bit, you make a choice to bail out or help save the ship and bail water. We have many people grabbing a bucket to help us get to 2.0. I’ve got my bucket. Can I hand you one to help out? I hope so.

Dave Wenhold, CAE, is NCRA’s Interim Executive Director & Chief Executive Officer. He can be reached at dwenhold@ncra.org.

Huseby Announces Acquisition of Discovery Litigation Services

In a press release issued March 11, Huseby, based in Charlotte, N.C., announced that the firm has acquired Discovery Litigation Services, headquartered in Atlanta, Ga.    

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Legal scopist makes the top 10 best work-from-home jobs in 2019

In an article posted March 10 by MoneyInc.com, legal scoping was named as one of the top 10 best work-from-home jobs in 2019.

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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.

Call for 2019 DSA nominations: Recognize that special professional

Has a peer or colleague gone above and beyond to support NCRA and the court reporting and captioning professions? Then consider nominating that person for NCRA’s 2019 Distinguished Service Award (DSA). The deadline to nominate someone for NCRA’s 58th DSA is March 15.

The DSA is the highest honor NCRA can bestow on a member. It 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 or service at a state court reporters association or in the field of public relations or public affairs. Award winners are recognized at the NCRA Convention & Expo.

“While attending the convention I had no idea I would be receiving this great honor. I do recall that about four years ago my dear friend Louis Rennillo sent my name in to be nominated. But not having heard about it again, I didn’t think about it,” said 2018 DSA recipient Heywood (Woody) Waga, FAPR, RMR, CRR (Ret.), a retired court reporter from Montclair, N.J. “I just thought the DSA Committee had so many more names of people more deserving of this great honor. I still feel that way. There are great reporters who have been overlooked,” he added.

“When the description of the recipient was being announced, all of a sudden I realized they were talking about me. My daughter, Lauren Schechter (a great CART reporter), was sitting next to me and smiling; she said, ‘Dad, go get your award.’”

Only voting members of NCRA or recognized court reporting associations can submit nominations that will be eligible for consideration. In addition, nominations must include information supporting why the nominee should be considered. Finally, DSA candidates cannot be an active member of the DSA Committee or the NCRA Board of Directors.

The purpose of the Distinguished Service Award is to encourage and recognize work amounting to distinguished service by individual members for the benefit of the reporting profession. A recipient of the DSA:

  • Must be a Registered Member of NCRA in good standing or a Registered Retired Member who was a member in good standing upon retirement
  • Cannot be an active member of the DSA Committee or an active officer or director of the Association
  • Must have been involved in NCRA affairs on an extensive level, along with service to state and other reporting associations, public affairs and public relations, writing for association publications, and the advancement of the profession

“Receiving the DSA has meant the depth of accomplishment to me. There is no greater reward than to be recognized by your peers. It came to me at a particularly sensitive period in my career. I had retired a short while ago, and I truly missed the involvement and challenges to overcome. I guess that’s for others to do their own way. I respect that,” Waga said.

“I hope that other professional members would think of worthwhile candidates to receive this great award in the future and send in their nomination. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to say, ‘I love the profession of court reporting as well as this great association representing the interests of all its members.’”

Voting members of NCRA may submit nominations through an online form, by email to dsa@ncra.org, or by mail to NCRA, Attn: DSA, 12030 Sunrise Valley Dr., Reston, VA 20191, by March 15. Click here for more information.

Attorney explains how court reporters make a difference

Joe Fulton

In a tweet during 2019 Court Reporting & Captioning Week, attorney Joe Fulton, a partner with Martineau King, PLLC, in Charlotte, N.C., showed some appreciation for court reporters. JCR Weekly reached out to him for more details.

JCR | What prompted you to tweet during Court Reporting & Captioning Week?

JF | I was really glad to see that the NCRA had gotten folks rallied around the idea of bringing attention to the important work done by court reporters. It is not a career choice that many people think about, but they should. I am a civil litigator, and my wife is a prosecutor. In my wife’s job, they have at times actually been unable to keep a sufficient number of courtrooms running for the simple fact that not enough court reporters were available. In my job, I’ve been very lucky to work with a lot of great court reporters who are always punctual and who I can rely on to get the job done. There are lots of things about my job that are complex, but reliable court reporters make one of the most important parts, preserving the record at something like a deposition, easy.

JCR | What has been your experience working with court reporters?

JF | I have worked with court reporters in depositions and court proceedings. One of the most enjoyable things about being an attorney is getting to work with a lot of different people. Whenever I show up to a deposition and see a court reporter that I know, I enjoy reminiscing about old cases we were both involved in and it always puts me at ease.

JCR | What do you think they add to the judicial process?

JF | Court reporters are an essential part of the American system of justice. Whether in a deposition or at a trial, the creating of a permanent and accurate record is essential to protecting the rights of all of the parties. There is no better way to do this than with an actual, live, in-person court reporter. If you have never had to rely on an audio recording to review a record, it might be difficult to believe that the record created by a court reporter would be much better. After all, the court reporter is “just writing down what people say.” I have had personal experience in proceedings where only an audio recording was used. I can say without a doubt that a transcript created by a court reporter who was actually there is vastly superior to any audio recording.

Dear NCRA members,

As part of NCRA 2.0’s commitment to review our programs and projects, the Board has diligently analyzed the current corporate partnership program and determined that it is not a good fit for NCRA at this time. The program was implemented for a year with the hopes that it would fit into our association model, but it does not. To that end, the Board took the following action: “MOVED, seconded, and carried that the Board of Directors approves the phasing out of the NCRA corporate partnership program. All corporate partnerships executed in 2018/2019 shall terminate at the end of their one-year term.”

Thank you for your membership and continued support of your NCRA!

Sincerely yours,  

Sue A. Terry, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC
NCRA President
On Behalf of the NCRA Board of Directors