Will in-person depositions vanish due to COVID-19?

On Nov. 18, JD Supra posted a blog by Esquire Deposition Solutions that addresses whether in-person depositions will return after COVID-19.

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Tips for avoiding awkward videoconferencing malfunctions

An article posted by Law.com on Nov. 20 offers five tips for avoiding awkward video conferencing malfunctions in courts and depositions.

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Remote depositions in state court: Can they be compelled?

Law.com posted an article on Nov. 2 that discusses the few New York state cases that have addressed the issue of remote depositions.

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State courts cut budgets by using digital recordings instead of live reporters — risking relitigation of cases

NCRA members Ryan White, RMR, CRR, and Bonita Shumway, RMR, CRR,  official court reporters from Portland, Ore., were quoted in an article posted by the Portland Monthly magazine on Oct. 29 about why live court reporters are better at capturing the official record than digital recording systems.

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Working together to further court reporting in Oklahoma

By Allison M. Hall

Allison M. Hall

In Oklahoma we are fortunate enough to have a Preserving the Record Task Force that is compiled of Oklahoma Supreme Court justices, judges from across the state, staff from the administrative office of the courts, and court reporters. The task force has been in existence for the past three years. It has been an honor to serve on that task force. We have been able to collectively put our heads together to come up with many great ideas including: creating court reporting programs, changing current law and administrative rules that apply to students and temporary court reporters, raising the salary of a temporary court reporter, and Certified Shorthand Reporter (CSR) payment and testing regulations.

Oklahoma Supreme Court Chief Justice Noma Gurich has been a champion for stenographic court reporters in the state of Oklahoma. We are so fortunate to have her. In talking with Oklahoma District Judge Jon Parsley and some local attorneys at a social event about the dire situation of filling officialships in rural areas of the state, the idea of a grant was formed. The law firm of Burns & Stowers out of Norman, Okla., was instrumental in the process.

They were able to request that a $500,000 distribution be directed by Judge Parsley to the Oklahoma Bar Foundation as seed money to develop a scholarship, grant, and assistance program to encourage qualified court reporters to work as official court reporters in rural Oklahoma.

The grant was generated from money remaining from a class action suit. Funds that go unclaimed in such suits are typically placed in a trust fund by the legal firm representing the plaintiffs. Once the funds have been disbursed, any remaining money is either distributed as grants to nonprofit and charity organizations or, in some cases, returned to the defendants.

In early 2020, our committee was formed. Over the next several months of working as a committee with like-minded goals, we were able to finalize the policies and procedures and the application process. There are two components: One is an educational block grant that existing court reporting programs in the state of Oklahoma can apply for; the other is an employment grant that a court reporter who is an Oklahoma CSR and is willing to commit to working in rural Oklahoma can apply for to help with relocation costs. Currently, the court reporting schools in Oklahoma are going through the application process to request the educational block grant.

I am hopeful for what this means for court reporting education and the reporting job market in rural Oklahoma. I am so grateful to Chief Justice Gurich, District Judge Parsley, the Oklahoma Bar Foundation, and all who were involved in the brainstorming process and serving on the committee. The hope is that, in Oklahoma, this is the first of many grants used to further court reporting in rural areas of the state.

Allison M. Hall, RMR, CRR, is an official state court reporter from Tulsa, Okla. She can be reached at allie441@gmail.com.

Texas’ first Zoom civil jury fizzles

The first totally virtual civil jury trial to be held in Texas was delayed for a little more than a month because no lawyers consented for their cases to be heard before a virtual jury, according to an article posted by Law.com on Aug. 9.

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Last chance for early access savings for NCRA Connect 2020!

Last chance to catch the early access savings on full and half registration package fees for the NCRA Connect Virtual 2020 conference happening Aug. 7-9. These savings end tonight at midnight.

Full registration to the NCRA Connect Virtual 2020 includes access to all three days of activities, including all non-CEU activities and 16 CEU sessions of the registrant’s choice for a total of 1.6 CEU credits. The early access member cost for full registration is $300. The regular price is $325 for regular registration. A half registration package is also available that includes access to all three days for all non-CEU activities and seven CEU sessions of the registrant’s choice. The member cost for half registration is $180 for early access and $200 for regular registration. The special rates for students are $60 for members and $75 for nonmembers.

“In a field where we are constantly learning, continuing education is essential. Whether I’m presenting the seminar or attending the seminar, my hope is always that every attendant will take away at least one relevant concept when the seminar is finished,” said Allison Hall, RMR, CRR, an official court reporter from Tulsa, Okla., who is presenting a session called “Work Smarter, Not Harder,” at the NCRA Connect event.

“Continuing education isn’t about a requirement; it’s about learning and molding yourself into the professional you want to be, one seminar at a time,” Hall added. Her session will offer attendees ways to up their efficiency, increase their profitability, and reduce the amount of stress they often experience in this high-stress field.

Over the course of three days, attendees will have the opportunity to choose from sessions that address being audited by the Internal Revenue Service, teach best practices for marking exhibits electronically during remote proceedings, and more. In addition, there are sessions geared toward students, such as the one on understanding the profession after they graduate. There are even two yoga sessions being held on Saturday and Sunday to help attendees get their day off to a great start.

Attendees also will have the opportunity to participate in a number of fun networking parties, including specialty ones geared toward officials, freelancers, captioners, firm owners, new professionals, and students and teachers.

“Networking is essential in our profession. Attending an NCRA convention will put you in the right place at the right time to meet the right people that can help you advance in your career,” said Teresa Russ, CRI, a captioner and freelance court reporter from Bellflower, Calif.

“Oftentimes you never know what to expect when you accept a job, whether it’s captioning or covering a depo. The seminars are designed to meet the needs of the challenges court reporters, CART and broadcast captioners, and students will possibly encounter,”  she added.

Other learning session highlights include a presentation by Matthew Moss, RPR, an official court reporter from Denver, Colo., who will present “Motivation, Beating Obstacles, Achieving Goals, and Growth Mindset,” and “What Every Court Reporter Should Know About Punctuation to Transcribe Correctly,” being led by the renowned Dr. Santo “Joe” Aurelio, FAPR, RDR, (Ret.) from Arlington, Mass.

NCRA member Karen Peckham, RMR, CRR, an official court reporter from Westminster, Calif., said she is looking forward to NCRA Connect Virtual 2020 because the last time she was able to attend an NCRA Conference was when it was held in San Francisco, Calif., in 2014. She signed up for the virtual event, she said, because she wants to earn her CEUs.

See the complete schedule of sessions, including networking opportunities, exhibitor showcases, and the virtual vendor hall, at NCRA.org. For more information about registration and nonmember registration pricing, visit the NCRA website. Remember, sessions will be available to view through midnight, Aug. 25, after the event, so you won’t have to worry about missing a minute of this virtual experience.

Register now.

Jury trials in the midst of a pandemic

LegalNews.com posted an article on May 26 that examines how jury trials can resume in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Has the legal system been knocked out by coronavirus? Ask the lawyer

In a blog posted May 5 by the Daily Breeze, El Segundo, Calif., attorney Ron Sokol addresses the impact COVID-19 has had on the legal system by writing: “In sum, it is going to take time for the courts to get up to speed after reopening, but the ingenuity and dedication of court staff will make sure the wheels keep turning. Patience has been and will be tested, but our legal system will certainly survive. … Bottom line: Do not underestimate our judges and their staff.”

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Growing number of state supreme courts meet remotely

An article about the growing number of state supreme courts meeting remotely was recently posted in @TheCenter, the official newsletter of the National Center for State Courts.

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