Jeff Weigl new speed champ; Dee Boenau wins realtime

Jeffrey Weigl, RMR, CRR, CRC, from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, won the 2016 Speed Contest, held on Aug. 3, during the 2016 NCRA Convention & Expo in Chicago. Weigl turned in a 220 Literary with six errors, a 230 Legal Opinion with 26 errors, and a 280 Q&A with 20 errors to earn the crown. In second place overall was Melanie Humphrey-Sonntag, RDR, CRR, CRC, of St. Charles, Ill., and in third was Karen Tyler, RDR, CRR, CRC, of Shreveport, La.

Dee Boenau, RDR, CRR, CRC, of Sarasota, Fla., took top honors in the Realtime Contest, the second time she has earned the title. Boenau’s 200 Literary leg had only four errors and the 225 testimony had seven. Ron Cook, RDR, CRR, CRC, of Seattle, Wash., took second place overall in the competition. Amanda Maze, RMR, CRR, CRC, of Brighton, Colo., placed in third for the Realtime Contest.

The Speed Contest consists of three legs: literary at 220 wpm, legal opinion at 230 wpm, and testimony at 280 wpm. Contestants have a total of 90 minutes per leg for transcription. The Realtime Contest consists of two legs: literary at 200 wpm and testimony at 225 wpm. Contestants must turn in an ASCII file immediately following the end of dictation. In both contests, contestants must receive 95 percent accuracy to qualify; accuracy also determines the winners.

Catching up with the Realtime Contest winner

DougDoug Zweizig, RDR, CRR, a federal official court reporter for the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, in Baltimore, won the 2015 Realtime Contest in New York, N.Y. It’s his second time as NCRA Realtime Champion. The JCR Weekly caught up with him back on the job to find out a little more about his practice methods and what it’s like to be a part of the competitions.

What appealed to you about competing in the speed or realtime contest?

2005 was the year of my very first NCRA convention. I figured I’d enter the Realtime Contest. I never thought I could compete with anyone. Lo and behold, I won third place. I had a suspicion that I did well and was very nervous about the awards luncheon, so I didn’t go and stayed in my room. Big mistake – one I vowed never to make again, despite my feelings on how well I did or didn’t do. Lisa Feissner, from my home state of Pennsylvania, tracked me down in my room and made me get downstairs right away! I still apologize to Teri Gaudet for not being there on time to this day.

How did you train for this competition?

To be honest, I didn’t have time, unless you count all my time in court. The Tuesday night practice session went unusually well for me. It’s normally awful. [Ed. Note: Traditionally, the Speed and Realtime Contestants have been invited to a practice session on the Tuesday before the convention. It gives both the contestants and the dictators a chance to get used to the venue and troubleshoot any problems before the Speed Contest begins on Wednesday.]

You compete in the Realtime Contest pretty frequently. Was there anything you did differently this time?

I wasn’t pleased with my performance last year, so basically I just had to be in the zone and calm down. I don’t like to chitchat too much before, which is difficult for me since I’m always running my mouth. That’s part of staying in the zone for me. After the dictation is over, all bets are off, and my mouth is running like always.

Were you surprised that you won, or did you have a good feeling about the contest as you were writing?

Literary – whether in speed or realtime – has always been my strongest, so I had a very good feeling about that. The Q&A, however, was extremely challenging, to say the least. Since it has to be written in mixed case, things that are not capped but should be are marked as errors. I used my cap stroke a total of 13 times in that file. They got tricky with this one, which is a good thing. They gave us a word list ahead of time but didn’t tell us which take it applied to. I think they all applied to the Q&A. “Great Northern Airlines,” I made up about five different briefs for that. But then they’d say “Great Northern,” which is where my cap stroke came in. Same with “Southeast Jet Airlines” suddenly becoming “Southeast.” It kept me on my toes, that’s for sure! I think it helped that I’ve taken several airplane crash trials, so I had some good briefs. And as for being surprised, I knew I did well, but you can never gauge how well someone else did.

How does this win compare to your Realtime Championship in 2006?

I remember the literary in 2006 being really good with a three-way tie. The Q&A that year was very challenging as well. I remember something about veterinary medicine and anaphylactic shock. I had quite a number of errors on that take. 2006 was surreal. I remember my teacher, Cathy Logan, was waiting for me off stage after she got wind that I might win. That was pretty awesome to see her right away. It was one of the best moments of my life.

Winning this year was particularly emotional for me. I lost my mother suddenly last year. The past year and a half has had more ups and downs than I’ve ever had in life, including moving states for a new job that I love. I wanted to be able to call my mom to tell her, of course, as anyone would, but I do feel she was with me in spirit. So if anyone wondered why I was so emotional, that’s why. This year was made very special as well because my friend and classmate Marla (Lahr) Vargas was there to see me win. She’s always been a big cheerleader.

You’ve competed in both the Speed and Realtime Contests at a national level. Do you practice for or think about them differently, or do you use the same techniques for both?

I never thought I could compete in the Speed Contest as realtime is my thing. I was shocked to place third overall in 2012 in both contests, but especially the speed. I never thought I’d be able to switch gears and had never tried until 2012. With realtime, I need to write as perfectly as I possibly can, including punctuation. With speed, it’s a matter of getting it down. Funny how I can still read my notes when transcribing, such as having a split stroke or a stack. It’s fun figuring it out and getting a big smile on my face when I do. I technically qualified in the speed Q&A in 2014, but I had some drops. I beat myself up about that for a long time, but I said to myself that I was going to nail it this year, and I did. My arms started to turn to rubber in the middle of it, but I held on. I had five errors, so I’m very happy with that.

NCRA 2015 Convention & Expo kicks off in New York City

A record number court reporters, captioners, and legal videographers helped kick off the 2015 NCRA Convention & Expo this morning, the highest number of registrants in four years. Nearly 1,200 are registered for the event. The first day includes day-long pre-convention intensive CAT vendor workshops hosted by Advantage Software/Eclipse and Stenograph, the Association’s Annual Business Meeting, and the first day of the Realtime Systems Administrator Workshop.

It also marked the first day of the Certified Realtime Captioner three-day workshop. This workshop is required to earn the new certification that combines the educational training of the Certified Broadcast Captioner and the Certified CART Provider certifications. NCRA members who currently hold the CBC and the CCP certifications will automatically become CRCs as of Jan. 1, 2016. Participants in the CRC Workshop will have the opportunity to take the written knowledge portion of the CRC test.

Other highlights for day one of the convention include the National Realtime Competition, the National Committee of State Associations Meeting, the Only New Once Reception, and the Opening Reception in the Expo Hall.

Court reporting champ has great hands and ‘nerves of steel’

The ABA Law Journal Now posted an article online on Aug. 20 showcasing NCRA member Jo Ann Bryce, RMR, CRR, who won both NCRA’s National Realtime and Speed contests earlier this month. The article cites the recent Wall Street Journal article that featured the competition.

Read more.

‘Michael Jordan’ of court reporting suffers upset defeat

An Aug. 20 post on The Wall Street Journal Law Blog, which covers the legal arena’s hot cases, emerging trends, and big personalities, focuses on the recent Wall Street Journal article that featured NCRA’s 2014 National Realtime and Speed Competitions held at this year’s convention in San Francisco.

The blog’s lead writer, Jacob Gershman, notes that while Jo Ann Bryce, RMR, CRR, didn’t win any medals in Sochi, in the Olympics of court reporting, she’s a champion, having swept both the realtime and the speed competitions, upsetting the heavy favorite Mark Kislingbury, RDR, CRR.

Read more.

Fingers fly at court-reporting championships

An Aug. 19 article in The Wall Street Journal covered the National Speed and Realtime Contests at the 2014 Convention & Expo, held July 31- Aug. 3 in San Francisco. The article compares the stenographic styles of Mark Kislingbury, RDR, CRR, who is famous for his use of briefs, and Jo Ann Bryce, RMR, CRR, who uses a more traditional method. Bryce ultimately won all five legs of each contest. “I am still in shock,” says Bryce in the article. “I know I did it—it just sort of seems surreal.”

The article, which includes a video with interviews from contestants, also discusses the rising demand for court reporters, as well as the importance of grammar to reporting, citing Teri Gaudet’s joke if next year’s committee members should wear shirts that say “Does anal-retentive have a hyphen?”

Read more.