New look and navigation for NCRA’s TRAIN Web pages

By Michelle Kirkpatrick

NCRA’s grassroots project, Taking Realtime Awareness and Innovation Nationwide, has been ever-evolving over the last few years but with the same goals from its inception:  To create an influx of realtime reporters to meet marketplace demand and to allow court reporters to differentiate themselves from other methods of making the record.

The TRAIN program was designed for delivery in small group settings at the local level, and that continues to be the case. The TRAIN program relies on state associations and individual members to carry the message to reporters, which is the ideal way for court reporters to make the transition to realtime.

The new layout of the TRAIN pages on NCRA’s website offers several advantages:

  • Explanations and visual cues help users find specific content; e.g., information in the TurboTRAIN section helps individuals fast-track their personal learning experience regarding realtime, still divided into the original four strategic categories of Hardware Tips, Software Tips, Writing Tips, and Fighting Fears Tips, but with more structure and embedded hyperlinks for easier navigation.

Two of our newer sections lay out references and guidance for State Association Leaders interested in starting their own state realtime committees, and information and PowerPoint presentations for TRAINers and those creating small local TRAIN groups.

Clicking on either of these two folders will lead the user to step-by-step suggestions on how to start small TRAIN groups, including the original TRAIN videos, as well as a few other added gems for our state leaders.

The original TRAIN Dropbox folder has been phased out. Instead, all TRAIN materials are now accessible from the TRAIN home page through these folders mentioned above.

  • All content beyond the home page is now laid out in PDF documents, which makes it possible to save, share, and/or print those pages with ease.
  • The PDF pages have active hyperlinks embedded within them, making access to references still available to users even after downloading to their own computer.
  • All of the inner pages now have a “revised” date in the lower right-hand corner. This will aid users in being able to compare a document they may have printed or saved to their hard drive with the most current one on the NCRA website.

The TRAIN app for phones and tablets is still available for download from the NCRA TRAIN page with the credit going where credit is definitely due for that incredible piece of work. Thank you, Sue Terry!

And finally, in addition to hyperlinked lists of other useful outside realtime resources, there is a link to NCRA’s Realtime TRAIN Facebook page. If you are not a current member of the group, the TRAIN Task Force encourages you to join for some very worthwhile realtime-related discussions!

The TRAIN Task Force is currently hard at work revamping the content of the TurboTRAIN pages. It is a labor-intensive project, and we appreciate your patience! Realtime awareness is alive and well at Come check it out!

Michelle Kirkpatrick, RDR, CRR, CBC, CCP, is a member of the NCRA TRAIN Task Force and an independent realtime reporter based out of Denver, Colo.


TRAIN: Favorite tips and tricks

TRAIN: Favorite tips and tricks


The JCR asked TRAIN committee members and participants to share a realtime tip that they heard from someone unexpectedly. Several of the committee members said that it is often the tips or tricks they hear from other reporters as they are having conversations that can turn into the greatest asset – and that the tricks can range from a better way to write something to an easier way to remember how to set up your realtime kit.


Quick-and-easy troubleshooting

Here are just a few of the things other court reporters have learned.

  1. Make sure your realtime is working before you hook up your judge’s computer.
  2. If you see gibberish on your judge’s computer, that means you are communicating.  The problem lies on the baud rate you have chosen, and you need to change it.
  3. Naming your realtime files beginning with the year-month-day keeps them organized nicely in folders for each year, so that you can find those files quickly several years later.

Mary Oralia Berry, RMR, CRR

San Antonio, Texas


Tucking letters

The best realtime tip I have learned from another reporter is tucking letters. I read about it on Facebook. I started with the final G (ing) and then moved on to final R (er), and it has grown from there. I have started tucking as many letters as possible without generating conflicts. This has been one of my favorite tips lately!

Tammy Clark August, RDR, CRR, CCP, CBC

Florence, Ala.


Briefs galore

Here are a few of my favorite brief forms. I have collected them from a few friends who are great at coming up with these things.


psychotropic medication STROEPGS     
psychotropic medicine STROEPD     
psychotropic meds   STROEPDZ     
freely, voluntarily, and intelligently FROIL 
freely and voluntarily FROL 
signature bond SNAUB  
signature bonds SNAUBS    


Another tip I recently picked up involves the asterisk. When you create a new brief form, always throw in the asterisk in the outline. That way you will not have to waste time wondering if the brief has an asterisk or if it doesn’t.

Mary B. Burzynski, RPR

Medford, Wis.


Use profile settings

One I use regularly is using the profile settings in my software. I can save my translate setting for return clients or repeating jobs to remember my com ports, selected dictionaries, my output settings, my layout, and so on. This makes setting up a realtime job quick and easy because instead of combing through every setting to make sure it’s right (and risk missing a step), I can click one button and all my settings are set! Sometimes when you’re in a pinch, avoiding a few extra clicks of the mouse is a huge time-saver.

Merilee Johnson, RMR, CRR, CBC, CCP

Realtime Systems Administrator

Eden Prairie, Minn.

Define briefs on the fly

I learned from a very gifted captioner several years ago how to shorten dates, i.e., N-N for 199 and then add appropriate ending number – which I have then translated into the 2000s with an initial TW- and made up my own applicable endings.

I also learned to one-stroke speakers with a -Z ending, rather than the traditional two-stroke ID of the first syllable of the last name. Example:  MR. SMITH:  is written SMIZ, and so on.  Reducing strokes down to one as often as possible for high-frequency phrases or words is a lifesaver and results in cleaner writing … for me anyway.

This is my favorite trick of all: Learn how to define briefs, etc. from your writer, as you are writing on the job – impresses the attorneys when they can see, in realtime, a term transcend from an untranslate and/or mistranslate to the perfect spelling!  And, of course, decreases your edit time exponentially.

Mary Mitchell, RDR, CRR, CCP

Minneapolis, Minn.

Finally, the most important tip to remember is this: Sometimes the best tip can come from an off-handed comment or a chance encounter that brings a new perspective to your job.

Thanks to NCRA’s TRAIN Task Force for collecting the tips and tricks from TRAIN participants and task force members.

More gadgets for the job

At the 2014 NCRA Convention & Expo, TRAIN chair Lisa Knight, RMR, CRR, presented a session on new technology and gadgets as recommended by reporters. The session, titled “Treasure Hunt: Top Gadgets,” offered suggestions that freelancers might want to incorporate into their kits.


  • Google Nexus
  • Galaxy Tablet
  • Asus tablets and Lenovo Tablets, which, at a cost of $150-$500, can make a decent investment in stand-alone realtime tablets to offer unprepared clients
  • Surface Pro 3
  • iPad
  • Bamboo Stylus for iPad – There are many different models on the market, including some that combine the pen and the stylus. Any stylus is better than using your finger.
  • iCVN by Stenograph
  • myView by Advantage Software
  • second monitor (recommended with MIMO, ormultiple-input and multiple-output, which allows for sending and receiving more than one data signal on the same radio channel at the same time via multipath propagation.)
  • can be downloaded and installed on a Mac, a personal computer, an iPhone, or an iPad. And, if the client uses a screen-capture software on the other end, the depo can be played back as a movie, started, paused, and stopped. doesn’t allow the client to make annotations in the file, but an expert can view a depo from his office, make notes as the testimony is going on and then replay after the depo is over … all free!
  • Evernote
  • mobile hotspot, such as your cellphone’s data connection, a Cradlepoint connection, or Verizon’s MiFi
  • travel router/adapter with USB port
  • portable scanner
    • Doxie Go is wireless and portable. You can just scan and upload the document.
    • Fujitsu’s ScanSnap is a big scanner, but it works in the field
    • NeatDesk and NeatReceipts are two hardware scanners, one that sits on a desktop and one that is portable. The best thing about Neat is it will automatically categorize receipts on scan with their software.  You can also use software with Fujitsu scanners.
  • Andrea PureAudio Sound card can be used as an external sound card and is helpful if you set up an extra throw-down laptop to provide sound sync. If you need this kind of audio support, you can also consider Boosteroo for listening amplification.
  • backup system: Seagate GoFlex Wireless, Clickfree, Carbonite, and Crashplan are a few that work through a WiFi connection. Some of these systems may be little more expensive, but these programs are well worth it.
  • surge protector
  • iPad stands
  • USB fan
  • 360-degree swivel stand for iPad
  • Dymo 450 label maker (for exhibits)
  • surge protector extension cord
  • gaffers tape (or SafCord Cord Cover)


  • juice defender – helps keep the life in your battery by managing what is using up the power on your smartphone
  • Google Keep – manages checklists, voice notes, and photos with annotations
  • Onavo – compresses data on your phone to reduce data usage
  • Screebl – an app for saving battery life on your phone
  • SnapPea – moves stuff from your phone to your PC and vice versa


  • If you proofread on an iPad app, look into one of these apps: PDF pen, iAnnotate PDF, and Goodreader for iPad. PDF Pen is a Mac App. iAnnotate and Goodreader are PC/Mac.
  • Recordium Pro, a voice recorder app for iPhone, lets you record and share sound while taking notes and memos.
  • Voxie ProRecorder
  • TRAIN’s app (

What I carry in my bag

We asked the members of the Technology Committee what they carry in their bags (in addition to, of course, their steno machines). Here’s what they keep in their bags. See how your bag matches with theirs.

  • USB-to-serial cables
  • wireless router
  • iPad
  • Belkin SurgePlus swivel charger
  • iPad charger
  • power cords for computer and writer
  • a wired realtime kit with multiline block, just in case somebody wants or can only have a wired connection

Anthony D. Frisolone, RDR, CRR, CBC, CRI

Staten Island, N.Y.

  • equipment case: Tutto steno case – regular size, now available in fashion colors
  • power strip: Socket Sense with adjustable outlets
  • laptops: Surface Pro 3, which stenowriter connects to via Bluetooth or one USB port, and Dell laptop for LiveDeposition
  • realtime viewers: Asus netbook w/webcam (also loaded with my CAT software as backup), Dell netbook (1), iPads (2) in covers with stands


  • Bridge Mobile command cards customized with my company logo
  • Laptop stand w/tripod
  • Cisco Linksys EA4500 router with power cord (with “router” written on cord with silver Sharpie per Sue Terry’s brilliance – see photo)
  • Verizon MiFi w/power cord (with “MiFi” written on cord with silver Sharpie)

I use the internal microphone on my laptop but have the following backups in one of my zipper bags:

More zipper bags:

  • Belkin 4-port USB hub
  • Anker 5-port USB charger station and extra cellphone charger
  • multiple jump drives and SD cards
  • fashionable zipper bags to hold accessories (see photo)
  • Ethernet cable and a prayer for an Ethernet port in the conference room
  • headphones and earbuds

If I’m getting fancy:

  • Wifi portable hard drive (share digital exhibits in conference room)
  • Brookstone Pocket Projector (in theory to project exhibits from laptop; in reality, for grandkids to watch movies in backyard)

For editing at home or away: Asus external USB monitor, Logitech Bluetooth keyboard, Windows wireless wedge mouse, and Urban Junket laptop bag (I got it with a Groupon, I think, at a fraction of the cost).

This bag has saved my bacon more than once. It has a Joey charger and is designed so that charging cables can access the various pockets holding laptop and devices. And it’s made from 48 reclaimed plastic bottles. And it’s cute.

Robin Nodland, RDR, CRR

Portland, Ore.

In addition to my machine and computer, I carry:

  • cables for machine to computer
  • MiFi
  • iPad
  • extra 4MG SD card
  • three microphones in case two don’t work
  • USB mic for the computer
  • Depobook
  • flat extension cord
  • MonsterPower mini extension 4-plug cord
  • Notable
  • two tripods
  • Belkin surge protector device with two USB slots
  • iPad cord
  • mini USB power cord and extra plug-in mini USB power cord
  • Sennheiser NoiseGuard earphones
  • ear buds
  • cough drops
  • my business cards
  • tape
  • paperclips

Keith Lemons, RPR, CRR

Brentwood, Tenn.

In my everyday bag, outside of the ordinary:

I have a small bag that carries the Logitech C920 webcam with the Panasonic tripod that’s about eight inches.

  • I carry the Wand scanner (love whipping that out to scan something – not that apps aren’t great and better – but because counsel every time has the impression of, “Damn, that girl is prepared!”)
  • always have two iPads or one iPad and iPad mini
  • 100 GB wireless USB
  • office supplies: stapler, tape, Sharpies and highlighters in every color, rubber bands, paper clips, binder clips, Post-its in a variety of sizes
  • extra legal pads
  • Verizon hotspot – 4G gives me ten connects
  • USB mic from Sound Professionals on half golf-ball stand
  • variety of other types of mics (that I rarely ever use but carry around)
  • Ethernet cable
  • 6-plug surge protector, but in my side pocket, I have a variety of other types of plugs for varieties of situations including 8-foot extension cord.
  • dictation headphones – I like the small, light ones I can quickly snatch off or snap on my ears
  • extra SD cards and USBs for my writer

I do have a separate realtime bag that is for major realtime jobs or trials in which I have:

  • up to 10 more iPads
  • four throw-down netbooks
  • Stenocast with seven red/seven blue
  • USB keys with software and drivers on the key
  • extension microphones that can connect into my main USB mic for wiring to get sound at sidebars to avoid running to a corner for people to whisper up towards the judge in a circle around me
  • gaffer’s tape
  • extension cords up to 30 feet
  • plug-in USB hub
  • All kinds of little adapters and connectors to convert a large male end to a smaller one, a female adapter that accepts five male plugs
  • Extra tripod with two separate tables; one is square with rubber (great for making more secure), plus another table that extends out and has a cup holder.
  • HHDMI cables, and HDMI connects and cords for Apple products
  • extra Verizon hotspot

Christine Phipps, RPR

West Palm Beach, Fla.


  • laptop
  • iPad with charger
  • pens
  • pencils
  • Post-its
  • rubber bands
  • paper clips
  • lightweight notebooks

(I’m wireless, but I carry the items below for backup.)

  • two extension cords
  • extra machine battery charger
  • portable router with charger
  • realtime cables
  • lightweight rug
  • large roll of tape for cords

Teresa Russ, CRI

Lynwood, Calif.

Thanks to the members of NCRA’s Technology Committee for their help in creating this article.

Reporting: In the thick of it … life, that is

By Ruthanne Esparza

There is a time in life from post-college to pre-empty nest years when we’re in the thick of it all. Up until this age, we’re children, adolescents, teens, then young adults. During that time, we are learning about the world and life, then creating our identity as an adult, whether by default or design (most of us definitely by default).

As we enter the thick of it all in life, however, we make critical decisions: career, marriage/significant other (or not), children (or not), our relationships with our family of origin, friends, colleagues, and many others.

When we are smack-dab in the thick of it, the conveyor belt that is our path in life speeds up. It gets tough; it gets blurry; it gets overwhelming for sure. But it’s also a time in life for the most spectacular life events you’ll experience.

For most of us, when and if we get a chance to pause and consider our lives during these crazy years, they can feel like an uncomfortable blur. The feeling of contentment and being grounded can be an elusive longing, seemingly just beyond our grasp. So we put our heads back down and carry on. There are always crucial things that need our attention right this moment, necessary things: our work, our home lives, our bodies/health, our finances.

Well, I’m here to tell you there is a way to be present by design rather than default.  It is possible to find your flow through these years and not look back feeling as though life passed you by in a blur.

I love this quote: “Your outer journey may contain a million steps; your inner journey only has one: the step you are taking right now.”

Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

One great tool to use today is to begin to live in the now. If you’re fully present in the now, giving your attention to this moment only, you have the luxury of giving your full attention and energy to one thing. What a concept, right? We have so many different areas we’re trying to balance in life. We all know that juggling all the balls in the air gets precarious. What if we only had to juggle one ball at a time? Imagine throwing only one ball up and then catching it, instead of five or six or 99 balls all at once!

An easy way to begin to live in the now is to practice presence. This is where we get out of our head and into the moment as many times as we possibly can throughout the day. This is not easy! We have so many thoughts running around in our heads every day, it does take work to slow them down and bring our minds to the present moment. The goal is to ultimately be conscious of being in the present moment, or at least have the ability to pull ourselves back into the present moment for the majority of our waking hours.

A baby step to begin practicing presence is to consciously listen when speaking with others. Look into their eyes; hear them; stop the mind chatter and really listen. You can use this trigger to snap into the moment; it’s easy because of all the conversations we engage in during any given day. This goes for conversations with our colleagues and coworkers, family members, friends, and even our children.

As a former court reporter, I’d say this is the difference between taking testimony when you’re on autopilot, planning the rest of your day, and taking tough technical testimony when you literally don’t have a second to think about anything but the next word spoken from the witness’s mouth.

Think about what normally goes on in any given verbal exchange with another. As we listen, we have an agenda: We’re simultaneously crafting a response, what we’re going to say back. That is, we listen in a reactive state, constructing our reaction/response to what the person is saying.

Try listening with no thought in your head; clear your head, stop analyzing, stop mentally reacting. Concentrate solely on the person’s words, his or her expression – his or her eyes, voice, and mannerisms. At first it’s difficult, but with practice, it becomes a relief. You begin to notice how letting your guard down and not being ready to react feels like a reprieve: “Oh, wait, I can just listen here. I can pretend I’m watching a video and there’s no need for me to respondWow, how freeing is this?”

After the initial discomfort, you’ll be amazed at the sense of freedom this gives you. You’ll also be amazed at getting to the end of the other person talking and then just responding from a pure and natural place. It’s really the art of listening. The beauty of being a reporter is that we master the art of listening in our professional lives; we can simply transfer this skill to our non-reporting interactions by being fully conscious and present in the now.

Ultimately, this practice allows us to be so much more effective and confident in our exchanges with others. By practicing presence, you’ll see how your responses to others become natural and meaningful. You give your brain time to relax, and that’s when a sort of magic happens: You become much more effective in conversing with others. You are empowered. You feel confident.

Learning to live in the now, in the present moment, slows the conveyor belt down a bit, and with practice, it actually gives us access to a sense of control of our lives. We can find our flow while being right in the thick of it all!


Ruthanne Esparza, now a life coach, is a retired court reporter. She worked in the reporting industry for more than 27 years. She is now trained and certified to work as a coach-advisor for the Robbins-Madanes Coach Training Program. She currently practices as a certified strategic intervention life coach. You can reach her through her website






Reporting: Save yourself time and avoid errors

By Denyce Sanders

In the February 2013 issue of the JCR, I wrote an article on saving time using Case CATalyst. This year I would like to follow up on that and ask: Have you looked for ways to save yourself time and avoid errors? If you have, fantastic! If not, no worries. You can always start. If time is an issue, do one thing at a time or “schedule” yourself an hour of Case CATalyst time. You can make these changes anywhere – kid’s soccer game, coffee shop, watching TV.

Syncing with Dropbox

I use two computers. I have one that is strictly my depo computer with Windows and a home desktop that is a Mac and runs Parallels so I can access Windows on the Mac. For years, I would have to back up and go home and put the job on my home computer.

In 2014, I crashed two Windows 8 computers. I lost everything. Fortunately, I had my notebook so I could keep working, but I also had my system files and personal dictionary backed up to Dropbox. Dropbox is much more reliable than a flash drive, a CD, or Livebook. I thought I was protected but guess what? My Livebook wasn’t backing up properly. I also write units of every job to Dropbox. That way, I have a third copy of my job. For those of you with just one computer, writing units to Dropbox is an extra protection and safe, from, a theft, car accident, coffee.

Using Dropbox, whatever I write on my notebook automatically shows up on my desktop. Advantages? My rush job didn’t sign properly, my notebook crashed, I forgot to turn in my paperwork on my job but I scanned it and it’s sitting on my home computer. As of 2014, situations like these are no longer a problem for me. I still back up my job to a flash drive (old habits die hard), but I can now go home and work on that job just by sitting at my desk in my office. Didn’t finish my app page? No problem. Anything I might need at a job, I have synced with Dropbox. It has saved my bacon more than once! If I have an Internet connection, I can be anywhere and my computers will sync.

New field additions

I have since added a videographer field and time fields. I used to have a time caret. Now I no longer have to go the beginning and end of a file to find the start and end time and manually type it in. I replaced my time caret with the new field, and I modified a stroke that came with a new version of the Case CATalyst realtime commands dictionary and made it my own. Copy and paste is a wonderful thing!

Before every job, I create my job dictionary. I enter in everything from the caption, including witness name and lawyer names and whatever else I have. If the witness is an expert, I try and Google him and job define the usual things – schooling, type of work, etc.

I have a naming system for my apps and job dictionaries so that I can find them later on. For example, if the case name is Smith v. Jones, my app will be appsmith v jones and my job dictionary will be jdsmith v. jones. I do this for a few reasons. It saves time trying to figure out who the witness I took six months ago was; or, if the case sounds familiar, a couple key strokes will tell me. It is then very easy to find my previous witness and copy and paste those job dictionary entries into my job dictionary. The less I have to define, the more time I save and the cleaner my transcript – especially if they tell me that they want a rough draft … at the end of the day.

My app pages are separate because it saves time on filling fields. Using F8, I can just scan and fill them in versus having to clear them from the page. If a location changes, I have a caret in my master app file next to my Firm1 and Firm2 just in case I wind up at the courthouse instead of a law firm. The caret is an easy reminder and can be deleted quickly, saving a location error.

To save more time and to build on my personal system, I will do cert pages for continuing cases. For example, if I am working for both sides in a case, I create a cert page for each attorney with all the important parts filled out – who gets the original, bar number (field), etc. – and I name each cert file with the name of the taking attorney. So when I am putting the job together, all I have to do is choose that cert file and voila, done! Everything auto fills in –the date, the witness name, the attorneys. The only thing that I should be filling in on a cert page is the caption and that should be copy and paste! Everything else should be a field or a placeholder.

However, I rarely fill in my witness_name field anymore. I have discovered the Define Fields tab on the translation screen. Here I hit “w” for witness name, and I predefine it. I also predefine my exhibit placeholder, too, so when I write realtime, Smith Exhibit 1 comes out Smith instead of my wit_name exhibit field.

Using a briefcase

I use the little black/yellow briefcase at the top of my tool bar for continuing cases, which has a number of advantages. All my witnesses are in one location. My dictionary now becomes a “case” dictionary and that means that any define using k-define will go into that specific dictionary. I do, however, use j-define per witness for things like home addresses and children’s names, etc., that are not part of the case and really only specific to that one witness.

Core lists

I create a core list for my scopist/proofer on large cases or depos with lots of spellings. A core list is useful because it allows me to have all my spellings in one file that I can save and edit. A core list can be used on any job, is easily uploaded to Dropbox, and can be named anything I wish.

To create a core list simply be in the job I would like to create the core list for, go to tools and create core list. It is that easy. Once created, it’s a .txt file so I can modify it and save it/rename it, whatever I need.

There are various ways to do things, and this is my system. I know some reporters do every job as a case. I know some reporters who cut and paste from a previous witness (shudder) to do their beginning and ending pages. This is a tremendous time suck. Some reporters rely on their scopist to do their front and back pages.

Give yourself a time-saving gift certificate this year! I promise you, it will pay off.


Denyce Sanders, RMR, CRR, is a freelancer in Houston, Texas. She can be reached at




The last page: When time isn’t money

It’s all relative

Q. So Shenika — your mother is sisters with Shenika’s mother?
A. No, sir.
Q. Your mother is brothers with Shenika’s dad.
A. No, sir.
Q. You tell me what the connection is.
A. My dad’s sister is Shenika’s mom.
Q. I totally missed it. So your dad is brothers with Shenika’s dad.
A. Mom.
Q. All right. I’ll get it right in a minute.
Sherry Ruschell, RMR, CRR
Canton, Ga.

Timing is everything
Q. Were you present when she passed away?
A. It was questionable.
Q. What do you mean by that?
A. I don’t know.
Q. Do you have an understanding that you were present when she passed away?
A. I honestly don’t know.
Q. Do you understand that at some particular point she passed away?
A. Yes. Oh, yes.
Q. At the time that she is said to have passed away, were you with her?
A. I don’t know if she was passed away when I was with her or not. I’m being totally honest with you. It’s not clear.
Q. Did you think you were with her before she passed away or after she passed away?
A. I guess when she passed away.
Q. I wasn’t trying to ask a trick question. I understand that you don’t know if she passed away when you were there, but when you were in the room, did you have an understanding when you walked in that she was alive, or did you have an understanding that she had already passed away?
A. That she had already passed away.
Carol Jackson Schillberg, RPR
Stoughton, Mass.

A matter of perspective
Q. Are you married?
A. Nope.
Q. Ever?
A. Yup.
Q. How many times?
A. Once.
Q. How did that marriage end?
A. Good.
Q. How did it end?
A. Good.
Q. It ended good?
A. Yeah.
Q. Okay. Did it end in divorce?
A. It ended in divorce. That doesn’t mean it was bad.
Q. Okay. I didn’t say it did.
A. Well, you said it ended good like you was presuming it was bad.
Q. Well, I’ve asked that question probably for 13 years and I’ve never got “good” for an answer, so that’s —
A. It’s good. Good. Parted as friends, like we are today.
Q. Fantastic.
Michele L. Fontaine, RPR
Leicester, Mass.
How advertising works
A. Safeway is primarily a grocery store.
Q. How about Chick-fil-A? What does Chick-fil-A do?
A. They encourage everybody to eat more chicken.
Q. That’s right, the cows do.
A. They pay the cows.
Therese Casterline, RMR, CRR
The Colony, Texas
We’ll never be royals
Q. Can you please read Mr. Smith’s e-mail to you, sir, dated November 4, 2011?
A. “Dear Mr. Wellington.”
Q. That’s a distinguished name.
A. But he didn’t put “Duke” in front of it.
Elizabeth A. Tubbert, RPR
Southfield, Mich.
What it is
Mr. Smith: It’s not contrary.
Ms. Jones: It is.
Mr. Smith: It’s not.
Ms. Jones: Very much.
Mr. Smith: It’s not.
Ms. Jones: It is.
Mr. Smith: Okay.
Ms. Jones: It is very much so.
Denyce Sanders, RMR, CRR
Houston, Texas
Once and done
A labor and delivery nurse who is also a flight nurse was deposed.
A. Our missions were usually within the state of New Mexico, and if they’re within 150 miles, that was a rotor transport, or a rotor mission. Beyond 150 miles is usually fixed-wing, depending on the sending hospital and what their facilities look like. You can land that helicopter on that road or on the dirt, but you can’t land that fixed-wing in the dirt. I mean, you can land it once in the dirt, but then you can’t use it again, so…
Mary Seal, RDR, CRR
Albuquerque, N.M.
Everyone is awesome
Q. Well, what did he tell you about me?
A. You’re awesome.
Q. Well, I doubt that he said that. My wife doesn’t even say that.
MR. SMITH: Just for the record, John is blushing now —
MR. JONES: It’s a rare occasion.
MR. SMITH: — and I might be too.
Chelsey A. Horak
Omaha, Neb.


Kathryn Thomas photographed with Sen. Tom Harkin

Kathryn Thomas photographed with Sen. Tom Harkin

Currently resides in: Caseyville, Ill. (suburb of St. Louis, Mo.)

Position: CART captioner

Member since: 1998

Graduated from: Sparks College, Shelbyville, Ill., in 1998 and Johnson Bible College (now Johnson University), Knoxville, Tenn., in 1993

Theory: I learned Stenograph Computer-Compatible Theory, but now it’s a hodgepodge of that, Magnum Steno, and my own ideas.

Why did you decide to become a CART captioner?

I’d finished my associates’ degree in Bible from Johnson but had no idea what to do career-wise. My mother had finished the court reporting program at Sparks College but does not report. Sparks was much closer to home, so I decided to enroll in the court reporting program since it encompassed the secretarial program as well, giving me more options. The first day of theory class, I fell in love with the machine.

Do you have a favorite gadget? If so, what it is, and why do you like it?

Aside from my LightSpeed, good ol’ Text on Top. I’ve used that for one-on-one CART as well as projecting it onscreen.

What book are you reading right now?

In fiction, I have the privilege of being an advanced reader of the novel Wings of Hope by a new author named Elizabeth Liberty Lewis. Keep your eyes open for her!

In nonfiction, I’m reading Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?: Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World by Brian D. McLaren.

What are you most proud of in your career? Can you tell us what that experience was like?

Going after the Guinness speed record at NCRA’s convention in Nashville in 2013 was incredible. The most valuable benefit wasn’t so much about the attempt as it was about the year and a half spent training beforehand. Jobs have never been so easy nor so accurate as when I was practicing material in excess of 500 wpm. I hope to try to break the record again soon! If you’re interested in more details about my journey towards that attempt, I blogged about it at with the tag “The Impossible Goal.”

What advice or tips would you offer to new reporters?

Write short, practice fast, believe you can do it, and seek the Almighty.

Did you overcome a challenge in your career?

I passed the Illinois and Missouri certification tests the first time, but it took me seven times to get the RPR, three times to get the RMR, and nine times to get the CRR/CCP (when both skills tests were the same). Did I spend a lot of money? Yes. Was I frustrated many times? Yes. Did persistence finally pay off? Yes.

STUDENT REPORTING: Get up, get out, and get writing!

By Sarah Maksim

Let’s face it. Mock trials and depositions are no easy task. They demand a great deal of planning for students, and they also require a lot of chutzpah to even accept one; however, they are a bottomless well of information, and every time I attend one, I always end up learning something new. Even as a student, there are unlimited possibilities to meet influential people, get more comfortable in a “real depo” setting, and even come away with some lifelong friendships.

Being timid about attending these mocks has never been an issue for me, but I know that a lot of students suffer from anxiety, and they feel unqualified to participate. But nothing could be further from the truth! Mock settings are the perfect time to get your feet wet and get used to speaking up! During my first depo, I was so nervous about interrupting, but then it dawned on me that the law students’ grades are riding on this and mine isn’t. This really helped me come out of my shell and learn to speak up. Now that I have a few years of these mocks under my belt, I can honestly tell you that I have zero reservations about stopping attorneys if they are going too fast. More importantly, the more you are comfortable speaking up as a student, the more comfortable you will be speaking up as a professional reporter.

One other thing that helped me relax more in these mocks was the fact that the law students don’t know that we are students! Can you believe that the very first mock depo I attended, I was referred to as “Madam reporter”? I couldn’t stop myself from smiling and blushing a little bit, but in that moment, I felt like a certified reporter.

Putting steno skills aside, these mock depos are also a great way to advance your career before you become certified. I have had the chance to rub elbows with famous trial lawyers as well as judges and legal professors. In addition, it is refreshing and surprising when these impressive people come up to me and shake my hand to thank me for the service I provided. I’m always at a loss for words because, if anything, I should be the one thanking them for the opportunity. People may think that being in a room with all these important people is intimidating, but I always have the time of my life. Not only do I have fun, but these experiences may lead the way to promising (and lucrative) job opportunities in the near future.

In short, if there is one thing I would hope you take away from this, it would be to swallow your fear and take the plunge. Get your name out there! Jump in with a friend or go with your mentor for support, but know that the service we provide is as close to the real deal as we can get. While it is stressful the first time, the amount of knowledge you come back with outweighs any anxious feeling. I can’t tell you how many times law professors will ask for me to attend the next mock depo. We may be student reporters, but we provide an extremely useful service for law students. After my friend’s first mock depo, she told me something that I will never forget: “It was the most stressful and exciting thing I have ever done, and I can’t wait to go to the next one!”

Sarah Maksim is a graduate of court reporting school from Santa Clara. She can be reached at

Letters to the editor: Comment on “Jetsetting reporters”

I wanted to add a comment to your “Jetsetting reporters” article, which misrepresented the abilities of British and Australian reporters to cover depositions and other U.S. court work, in particular the paragraph quoting Jodi Harmon.

I am a British stenographer with 20 years’ experience, and I can assure you that British reporters are perfectly able to apply a U.S. spellings job dictionary and produce a transcript with U.S. spellings accurately rendered. I have a 2,500 work U.S./deposition job dictionary containing the -ize endings quoted by Ms. Harmon, as well as words such as theater and center, and both the verb and noun form of practise being spelt the same (in U.K. English, the noun is –ce and the verb is –se). It has been standard practice since I started reporting to apply U.S. spellings to U.S. cases, and doing so is well-known in the industry.

I also take issue with Harmon’s point that “many” legal cases are destined for U.S. courts. We receive a case caption for every job we do, and that will identify whether a case is being heard in a U.S. court, in which case U.S. spellings should be used, or a British court, in which case U.K. spellings should be used. The legal systems of the world do not all feed into the United States of America!

Your readers may be interested to know that depositions do not exist in the British legal system, and any depositions taking place in the U.K. are part of a U.S. court case. Therefore it’s not difficult to identify which cases are U.K.-based and which U.S.

I have taken hundreds of depositions throughout Europe, and I agree that travel is an exciting and challenging part of our role. But don’t assume Americans have to go to Europe because nobody there can make an accurate record — we can!

Claire Hill, RPR, CCP
London, England