NCRA member and CART captioner honored

Kristen Wurgler

Recently the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Division of Student Life, honored NCRA member Kristen Wurgler, RPR, with the Wisconsin Idea award, recognizing her work and commitment at the institution for having a positive and significant impact on one or more communities beyond the borders of the campus.

Wurgler, a CART captioner from Cottage Grove, Wis., works at the university’s McBurney Disability Resource Center alongside a team to provide remote services to deaf and hard-of-hearing (DHH) students as an option for their captioning accommodation.

“I was incredibly honored to just be nominated, let alone win,” said Wurgler. “It means the world to me because it came from colleagues for whom I have the greatest respect. I feel blessed to be in the company of people who are deeply committed to being of service to others and believe that all people deserve equal treatment,” she added.

In a speech delivered at the award ceremony, it was noted that Wurgler’s work on campus, while often behind the scenes with little recognition, is integral to advancing access for students with disabilities.   

The benefits of pro bono work

Lisa Migliore Black

By Lisa Migliore Black

The call from the out-of-state attorney seemed much like any other. “We’ll need a court reporter and videographer to cover a deposition. Are you available?” But this call turned unusual.

After obtaining the scheduling information, the next question was, “Do you do pro bono work?”

Now, I’ve done pro bono work before for select parties who couldn’t afford our services, for the Veterans History Project, even offering our services on immigration cases for which our existing clients were providing their legal services free of charge. My only hesitancy here was the lack of knowledge of this particular firm, the case at hand, or any of their history with pro bono work. This left me wondering if I would be agreeing to help promote a noble cause, aid someone truly indigent in seeking justice, or just stupidly discounting our services. Hesitantly, I said, “Yes.”

I provided the caller with a summary of our state association’s guidelines for pro bono work. In part, the pro bono guidelines state, “A volunteer reporter will provide 50 pages of transcript at no charge. All subsequent pages will be billed at the reporter’s regular page rate unless the reporter waives this fee or negotiates a discounted page rate.” The client happily agreed, and the first deposition date was set.

On the eve of the deposition, the reporter assigned to cover the case did a bit of research to prepare for the following day’s proceedings. The search of the case style, “State of Florida v. Clemente Javier Aguirre-Jarquin,” resulted interesting details about the case. Aguirre was serving a sentence on Florida’s death row for the murder of his neighbors Cheryl Williams and Carole Bareis, and his team of lawyers was seeking to have his conviction overturned.

“On the morning of June 17, 2004, Aguirre found the bodies of Cheryl Williams and her mother, Carol Bareis, in their trailer home. They had been stabbed dozens of times. Distressed by the violent scene, Aguirre checked the victims to see if they were still breathing, at which point he got the victims’ blood on his clothing. Realizing they were dead, Aguirre picked up a knife that was near Williams’ body, fearful that the perpetrator was still present, but then panicked, throwing the knife into the yard and returning to his neighboring trailer.

“When questioned by the police, Aguirre initially reported that he knew nothing about the murders; at that time, Aguirre was an immigrant from Honduras with no criminal history but feared deportation from the United States. Later that same day, however, he asked to speak to police again and voluntarily disclosed that he’d been in the trailer earlier that morning and discovered the bodies. The officers arrested him that day and charged him with evidence tampering. He remained a person of interest and was held without bond until he was charged 10 days later with the double murders. Aguirre had no previous criminal history.”

Our witness was to be Samantha Williams, the daughter and granddaughter of the victims. Williams did not appear for the first date scheduled, but ultimately the deposition did proceed. The attorney who hired us represented Aguirre through the Innocence Project, a volunteer organization whose mission is to exonerate the wrongfully convicted and seek justice reform, a mission near and dear to my heart.

Because I am a videographer, court reporter, and firm owner, I was able to pay the reporter in full, donate my time as the videographer, and heavily discount the remaining charges to about one-fourth of the usual cost. The payoff for me, other than the gratification of doing the right thing? Approximately nine months later, our office learned of Mr. Aguirre’s exoneration.

The pro bono work I’ve done has proven to be some of the most interesting and personally rewarding work of my career. This case was no exception. We applaud the efforts of the Innocence Project and take great pride in the role we were able to play in our justice system.

Lisa Migliore Black is a freelance reporter and owner of Migliore & Associates, based in Louisville, Ky. She can be reached at Lisacr99@hotmail.com.

Mixing business with pleasure: Working in an RV

NCRA member Lisa Johnston, RMR, CRR, CRC, casts off ties in Melbourne, Fla., every year to travel across the United States with her husband. Rather than forgo her usual work
as a broadcast and CART captioner, she set herself up to caption from wherever she and her husband parked the RV. Mixing business with pleasure was just right for the two of them.

Johnston spoke to JCR Contributing Editor Deanna Baker, FAPR, RMR, about the journey and all the stops in between.

BAKER | How long was the planning process to make sure you had all the work equipment you needed, as well as possible back-ups?

JOHNSTON | I packed all my equipment as if I were going to an event to work onsite. I have two laptops, two writers, two realtime cables, headphones, etc. Over the years, I have developed a checklist to make sure I have everything before I leave. I also bring the huge notebook of prep I have accumulated over the years. I travel a lot with work, and so, by now, I know what I need.

BAKER | Did you forget anything or wish you had brought something?

JOHNSTON | No, I haven’t forgotten anything yet — hopefully, I won’t ever forget something! I’m not too proud to admit that I now and will always use a checklist to make sure I have everything I need.

BAKER | Was all of your work strictly through the internet, sending data as well as audio?

JOHNSTON | I do remote CART captioning while traveling in our RV using the internet. I have two wireless routers that act as mobile WiFi hotspots, one with Verizon and one with AT&T; and both work really well. In certain parts of the country, one wireless provider may give me a stronger signal than the other, so I use what I feel gives me the most internet strength at that location.

I get my audio by dialing in using my cell phone. I have also used Skype for audio in the past as well. That can be iffy at times, so I always do some testing before an event starts.

BAKER | Any glitches along the way?

JOHNSTON | When I first started this journey of traveling on the road and CART captioning, before there were cell towers everywhere, I had to take my wireless hotspot and check the strength where the RV was “docked,” and if I had bad reception, I would get in my car and drive and see where the strongest service was. Many times, I’ve had to write on my machine, with the laptop on the seat next to me in the back seat of my car (we have a car we bring on our trips, which we tow behind our RV). I’ve been in Nowhere, U.S.A., in some unique locations sitting in my car taking down an assignment! Fun times!

Cell towers are the norm nowadays, so I don’t have to necessarily always be in a “big city” like I used to be to find a strong internet signal strength. I now can get good internet service most anywhere, thank goodness!

BAKER | Are your clients aware of your traveling, or has it been that they haven’t noticed a difference at all?

JOHNSTON | I strive to provide my clients with seamless captioning services and have been able to do so successfully for many years. As long as they are receiving the product they need, they are happy. I provide only CART captioning while on the road; no broadcast captioning which may use a landline and encoders.

I hope my reputation speaks for itself. If I am requested to support someone who needs communication access, I will go out of my way to accommodate. I have been in this profession for 34 years now, I love what I do every single day, and I hope that shows. If I can leave a person or situation and they have a smile on their face, then I’m happy and I’ve done my job successfully!

BAKER | I’m “assuming” your husband was not driving at the time you were working?

JOHNSTON | No way do I work while my husband is driving down the road. First off, it’s not very comfortable doing it that way for me, as not all roads in the U.S. are nice terrain and can get very bouncy and unstable. So, if we’re driving to a destination and I need to stop to take a job, we will pull into a rest area or at a truck stop/gas station and that works well for me. My husband is my fabulous support staff!

BAKER | Was there a particular goal for your travels?

JOHNSTON | We have no goals in our yearly travels. One year we head northeast to Maine, with many stops along the way, and the next year we head somewhere west (last year was Washington state; most years to California) with many stops along the way. We’ve been from one end of Canada to the other. We’ve been to all 50 states, and 49 traveling in our RV. Maine is one of our favorite states, so every other year we enjoy traveling up Maine’s coast and enjoying some lobster!

BAKER | Anything unexpected pop up that you didn’t plan on?

JOHNSTON | Nothing unexpected comes to mind right now. Pre-planning pays off!

BAKER | How many other colleagues were you able to visit on your travels?

JOHNSTON | In our travels across the beautiful United States, I try to reach out to some dear friends and colleagues when I know I will be nearby. In Flagstaff, Ariz., I had dinner with you and Lori Yeager Stavropoulos, RPR, CRR, CRC, and their spouses; in Mobile, Ala., spending time with Alan Peacock, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, and Elliot Carter was such a treat and highlight; in Seattle, I just missed seeing Darlene Pickard, RDR, CRR, CRC, as she was out of state the week I was there. And I keep promising Toni Christy, RPR, CRR, CRC, that we will make a trip to the San Diego area soon! Such good friends that I love seeing!

BAKER | Would you recommend this as a way to travel and work at the same time?

JOHNSTON | For me, this is the best of both worlds. I work a lot with clients who have meetings throughout the week. That is all I want to cover while I’m traveling, so while traveling on the road, I choose to work 2-3 days a week, which is perfect, because I can cover their meetings and yet still “play” and explore the areas my husband and I visit.

I choose to keep my workload light and not be constantly working, because I enjoy my time off sightseeing where we are traveling. We usually stay in a location a few days, so in that timeframe, we like to play tourists and see what the area has to show us, so I don’t want to always be inside working. But I love the flexibility to do what I want and work when I want!

BAKER | What have you seen on your travels that really stuck out for you?

JOHNSTON | We’d both always wanted to see Mount Rushmore, and the first time was such a treat. We love going to the Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Fiesta. Living an hour from Walt Disney World, I’d always wanted to see Disneyland in California, and that was fun to go to. Growing up in Florida with no seasons really, it’s been a treat for us to see the beauty of the United States. Fall is our favorite time to travel; seeing the leaves change their colors is breathtaking!

BAKER | Anything else you’d like to pass along to the readers?

JOHNSTON | My husband and I have been RV travelers for 15 years now and love every single minute of our adventures. Come join me! The United States is a great place to call your office!

Get to know the NCRA Slate of Nominees

NCRA’s Nominating Committee has offered its candidates for the 2019-2020 Board of Directors. The following outlines the candidates’ qualifications for members to prepare for voting. As provided in the Bylaws, additional nominations were possible if received within 60 days after publication of the Nominating Committee slate. The date by which additional nominations were to be received was May 12. No additional nominations were received. The following slate of Officers and Directors will be elected by acclamation to their respective offices during the Annual Business Meeting in Denver, Colo. In accordance with NCRA’s Bylaws, the President-Elect automatically succeeds to the office of the President.

President-Elect
Christine Phipps, RPR
North Palm Beach, Fla.

Christine Phipps, RPR
Christine Phipps, RPR

Christine Phipps is a Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) and president of Phipps Reporting, based in North Palm Beach, Fla. She is the current Vice President of the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA). She received her associate degree in court reporting from Broward State College, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and worked as an official court reporter for the first two years of her career. She spent the next 15 years working internationally as a freelance realtime court reporter.
Phipps is also an Eclipse Trainer, holds the Realtime Systems Administrator certificate, and has served as Chair of NCRA’s Technology and Freelance Committees, as well as on numerous other committees. She participated in the rewrite of NCRA’s Deposition Handbook, is a frequent contributor to the JCR, and has been a speaker at national and at state conventions.

Phipps was awarded the 2014 Most Enterprising Woman of the Year, Game Changer of the Year, and U.S. Small Business Administration’s South Florida District 2017 Woman-Owned Small Business Person of the Year Award. Her company has also made Inc. magazine’s 5000 list every year since 2014, making her the first honorary member of the Inc. 5000 in the court reporting industry. Phipps has also received numerous other business awards and was featured on the cover of Wealth & Finance magazine.

U.S. Small Business Administration’s South Florida District 2017 Woman-Owned Small Business Person of the Year Award.

Vice President
Debra A. Dibble, RDR, CRR, CRC
Woodland, Utah

Debbie A. Dibble, RDR, CRR, CRC
Debbie A. Dibble, RDR, CRR, CRC

Debra A. Dibble is a 28-year court reporter veteran who has worked as a deposition reporter in Salt Lake City, Utah, since 2002. She holds the nationally recognized professional certifications of Registered Diplomate Reporter (RDR), Certified Realtime Reporter (CRR), and Certified Realtime Captioner (CRC); she has also qualified in the National Speed and National Realtime Contests multiple times. She also holds NCRA’s Realtime Systems Administrator certificate. Dibble has also worked as a reporter in Memphis, Tenn. She has been a broadcast captioner and CART provider since 2010.

At the national level, Dibble has served as an NCRA Chief Examiner. She served as a delegate to the National Committee of State Associations from 2008 to 2012, in addition to service on numerous other committees. Dibble also served six years on NCRA’s Board of Directors including a three-year term as Secretary-Treasurer. She has also served as a presenter at the national and state levels.

At the state level, Dibble is a past president of the Utah Court Reporters Association and was honored in 2010 with the organization’s Distinguished Service Award.

Kristin M. Anderson, RPR
Kristin M. Anderson, RPR

Secretary-Treasurer
Kristin M. Anderson, RPR
San Antonio, Texas

Kristin Anderson is an official court reporter in San Antonio, Texas, for Bexar County Civil District Court. With more than 19 years of experience, she has worked both as a freelance reporter in Kansas and Missouri and as an official court reporter for the states of Illinois and Kansas. Anderson worked for the United States District Court Western District of Texas from 2013 through 2017 and holds the nationally recognized professional certification of Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) and has her Federal Certified Realtime Reporter (FCRR) designation with the United States Court Reporters Association (USCRA).

At the national level, Anderson is a past chair of the National Committee of State Associations and served on that committee in various capacities from 2006 through 2014. She also served on the Veterans Liaison Committee of NCRA’s New Professionals Committee, the Membership and Telemarketing Committee, and the Steno Opportunities in the Courts Task Force.

At the state level, Anderson has served in numerous positions and on various committees for the Kansas Court Reporters Association, including as president for two terms. She served on the Texas Court Reporters Association Convention and Ethics Committees in 2015-2016. Anderson is a member of the Bexar County Court Reporters Association, Texas Court Reporters Association, Texas Depositions Reporters Association, The Society for the Technological Advancement of Reporting (better known as STAR), and USCRA.

DIRECTORS
Several people were nominated for directorships of varying lengths in accordance with the changes made to the Constitution & Bylaws last year as well as some directors moving into positions as officers.

Director (three-year term)
Lance A. Boardman, RDR, CRR
Cleveland, Ohio

Lance Boardman, RDR, CRR
Lance Boardman, RDR, CRR

In his 35 years as a court reporter, Boardman has been a freelance reporter, a state official, and an independent contractor. He is now a federal official court reporter for the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division. He holds the nationally recognized professional certifications of Registered Diplomat Reporter (RDR), Registered Merit Reporter (RMR), Registered Professional Reporter (RPR), and Certified Realtime Reporter (CRR).
At the national level, Boardman has served on NCRA’s Education Content Committee and as a regional director on the National Committee of State Associations Governing Committee.

Boardman has been a member of a number of state associations over the years, as well as USCRA, The Society for the Technological Advancement of Reporting (better known as STAR), and Texas Depositions Reporters Association. He most recently served as a district director and then secretary on the Ohio Court Reporters Association Board of Directors.

Director (three-year term)
Heidi C. Thomas, FAPR, RMR, CRR, CRC
Acworth, Ga.

Heidi C. Thomas, FAPR, RMR, CRR, CRC
Heidi C. Thomas, FAPR, RDR, RMR, CRR, CRC

Heidi C. Thomas, FAPR, RDR, RMR, CRR, CRC, has been a court reporter since 1978 and a broadcast and CART captioner since 1989. She holds the nationally recognized professional certifications of Registered Merit Reporter (RMR), Certified Realtime Reporter (CRR), Registered Diplomate Reporter (RDR), and Certified Realtime Captioner (CRC). She is a Fellow of the Academy of Professional Reporters (FAPR).

At the national level, Thomas served for six years on the NCRA Realtime Certification Committee, which developed the Certified CART Provider (CCP) and Certified Broadcast Captioner (CBC) certifications. She was also part of the team that developed the Certified Realtime Captioner (CRC) certification. She also served as a member of the NCRA Captioning Regulation and Captioning Committees. Since 2008, she has been a member of NCRA’s Council of the Academy of Professional Reporters (CAPR), which deals with certification and education issues. Thomas has served for many years on the faculty/training staff of NCRA.

At the state level, Thomas is a former Director and past Secretary of the Georgia Shorthand Reporters Association (GSRA) and former member of the Board of Court Reporting for the State of Georgia. She has also served as a presenter at the national and at the state level.

There are two openings for a two-year term, and the nominees are:

Director (two-year term)
Keith Lemons, FAPR, RPR, CRR
Brentwood, Tenn.

Keith Lemons, FAPR, RPR, CRR
Keith Lemons, FAPR, RPR, CRR

Keith R. Lemons is a freelance court reporter, a former firm owner, and an official court reporter. He has been a court reporter for 37 years. He holds the nationally recognized professional certifications of Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) and Certified Realtime Reporter (CRR). He is also a Fellow of the Academy of Professional Reporters (FAPR).

At the national level, Lemons has chaired NCRA’s Scopists Task Force and has served on the Constitution & Bylaws, Technology, and Realtime Systems Administrator committees. He has been a contributor to the JCR for many years. He has also served as a presenter at the national and at the state levels.

At the state level, Lemons is a past president of the Wyoming Association of Shorthand Reporters and the Tennessee Court Reporters Association.

Director (two-year term)
Yolanda Walton, FAPR, RPR
Norwalk, Ohio

Yolanda Walton, FAPR, RPR
Yolanda Walton, FAPR, RPR

Yolanda has been an official court reporter for Huron County, Ohio, Common Pleas Court for 31 years and is a past president of the Ohio Court Reporters Association (OCRA). She has been instrumental in helping the OCRA stay the course as one of the leading court reporting and captioning associations in the country.

Yolanda has received the OCRA Glenn W. Stiles Distinguished Service, Martin Fincun, and Diplomat Awards for her outstanding service to the profession and association.
At the national level, Yolanda has been a member of NCRA since a student and has served on numerous committees, including as a National Committee of State Associations Committee Delegate. She also has attended every NCRA convention since 1992.

She holds the nationally recognized professional certification of Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) and is a Fellow of the Academy of Professional Reporters (FAPR).

There is one opening for a one-year term, and the nominee is:

Director (one-year term)
Jason T. Meadors, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC
Fort Collins, Colo.

Jason T. Meadors, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC
Jason T. Meadors, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC

Jason T. Meadors is a firm owner who began his career in court reporting while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1975-1978. He has worked as a freelance court reporter and an official reporter and has owned his own firm since 1989. Meadors holds the nationally recognized professional certifications of Registered Professional Reporter (RPR), Certified Realtime Reporter (CRR), and Certified Realtime Captioner (CRC). He is also a Fellow of the Academy of Professional Reporters (FAPR).
During his career, Meadors has reported in nearly two dozen states as well as in China, India, Japan, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, South Korea, and Taiwan.

At the national level, Meadors has served on numerous NCRA committees, as well as on the Board of Directors and as Secretary-Treasurer. He is also a contributor to the JCR magazine and has presented at the national and at the state level.

His volunteer service has included numerous positions with the Colorado Court Reporters Association, including as its president.

Local court reporter lobbies lawmakers for reauthorization of training grants

The Herald-Whig posted an article on May 13 about NCRA’s Leadership & Legislative Boot Camp participant Kim Cottrell, an official court reporter from Quincy, Ill.

Read more.

Cats and Caffeine

NCRA member Angela Sidener, RPR, a freelance court reporter from Henrico, Va., was profiled in an article that appeared in the May issue of Richmond Magazine about Central Purrk, a coffee shop she owns that features adult cats available for adoption.

Read more.

NCRA member interviewed about SPCA benefit

ABC News Channel 13 interviewed NCRA member Penny Wile, RMR, CRR, a freelance court reporter and agency owner from Norfolk, Va., about the third Woofstock event to benefit the local SPCA being held at a local brewery.

Watch the interview.

NCRA member participates in fifth graders Law Day

On May 15, The Frontier and Holt County Independent posted a story about a Law Day that was held for local fifth graders in which NCRA member Kami Hooey, RPR, CRR, an official court reporter from Atkinson, Neb.,  participated.

Read more.

Students and new professionals, don’t miss the chance to apply for these scholarships and grants

The National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF) is accepting nominations for the Robert H. Clark and Frank Sarli Memorial scholarships for students, as well as applications for the New Professional Reporter Grant. The June 1 deadline to apply for each of these awards is approaching fast. Now is the time to make sure you have all your paperwork in order.

The Robert H. Clark and Frank Sarli Memorial scholarships are awarded to high-achieving students nearing the end of their court reporting program who meet a number of criteria, including being a current student member in NCRA, passing at least one Q&A test at a minimum of 200 wpm, and achieving a GPA of at least 3.5 based on a 4.0 standard.

“This has given me an extra boost of motivation and confidence I needed while I head into my final semester,” said Megan Baeten upon receiving the Frank Sarli Memorial Scholarship in 2018. “It will help me with the cost of schooling for this last semester without the added stress of how I will pay for it. It will also help me with some of the start-up expenses upon graduating, as well as the certification fees.”

The New Professional Reporter Grant is given to a promising working reporter in his or her first year out of school who meets a number of criteria. These include maintaining a current NCRA membership, graduating with a GPA of at least 3.5 on a 4.0 standard, and submitting a recommendation from the person’s current employer.

Beginning this year, all NCRF scholarships are open to NCRA student members enrolled in any court reporting program, not just NCRA approved programs. In addition, the New Professional Reporter Grant is now open to qualifying graduates of any court reporting program.

More scholarships and other NCRF programs can be found by visiting NCRA.org/NCRF.

Court reporting featured at local career fair

NCRA Director Cindy Isaacsen, RPR, a freelance court reporter from Shawnee, Kan., was featured in a photo and quoted in an article posted May 10 by The Miami County Republic,  about her participation in a recent career fair held a local middle school.

Read more.