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The Court Reporter Conference 2006
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For Professionals in Electronic / Digital Court Technology

Volume 11, Number 2, Conference 2006 . . .

 

    In this issue: Click here to view in your browser.




Conference 2006
Las Vegas, June 4 - 6

Certification Testing June 7

 

 

 
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    Virginia State Capitol, Richmond




Taking a stand on Virginia's SB 216
a restrictive proposal is put on hold . . . for now . . .
In January a proposal to set up a powerful new Board of Court Reporting in Virginia was introduced in the state Senate (SB216), and it zipped through that body in under a month — without public hearing, and with precious little debate.

This Board would regulate every aspect of reporting and transcribing:   testing, licensing, continuing education — even hearing complaints against practitioners brought by "anyone" in the state, not just potentially aggrieved clients.

Several aspects of this bill were troubling:
  • It would create yet another level of expensive bureaucracy, ostensibly to regulate / control court reporting, yet dominated by one segment of the industry. (Where have we seen that before?)
  • It also imposed highly punitive sanctions against those "practicing court reporting" without imprimatur of this new Board.
  • It actually defined the only methods which the Board could ever find acceptable to license:   machine stenography, voice-writing / stenomask, and manual shorthand.
  • As noted, it would allow anyone in the state to file a complaint in these matters, whether or not that person had ever set foot in a courtroom or been adversely affected in any way.
  • Those currently practicing in any of the "defined methods" (which, of course, pretends E-Reporting does not exist) would be "grandfathered" into full licensure.

Proponents argued that the Board is needed because some who practice in one of the "defined methods" produce unacceptable transcripts, or fail to produce at all.
The theory is that Board licensure would prevent such failures in the future. Unhappily, merely "grandfathering" licenses to these very same practitioners virtually assures that problems will most certainly occur again.

A significant flaw in SB216 is that it would grant a voting majority on the Board to representatives of only a portion of our industry. If it is bad public policy to let an industry commandeer the government's regulatory powers to "police" itself, then it is even worse when only a segment of that industry wields such power. Inevitably, there is less innovation when vested interests control the public's regulatory apparatus, and even write their own rules.

After its remarkably quick trip through the Senate, the bill went to Virginia's House of Delegates, assigned to the Civil Law Subcommittee.

AAERT's Directors concluded this restrictive proposal was both unwise and unnecessary, so asked our members to register their views by letter, e-mail, or phone.

Neal Gross (Washington, D.C.), past AAERT vice-president, appeared before the subcommittee in late February, along with Michele Satterlund (Richmond, Virginia). Together, they presented a persuasive case against SB216 — and provided valuable information to educate committee members. (One legislator admitted that he had never even heard of E-Reporting! Well, now he has.)

The Subcommittee has declined to "report" this measure to the full House, and the legislature has adjourned, so it will not be considered again until 2007, if then.

Thank you all for your input and support!

 

 

 
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Nearly lost  in  by translation

ONLY direct audio recording, whether digital or analog, preserves ALL participants' actual spoken words, regardless of the languages involved, for later authoritative scrutiny.
"Unable to speak English, Juan Ramon Alfonzo stood before a judge and expected to receive probation for stealing a toolbox. To his surprise, the judge sentenced him to 15 years in prison, followed by 15 years of probation, for stealing a dump truck valued at $125,000.

"Now, court officials agree Alfonzo entered the wrong plea because his court-hired interpreter . . . provided an incomprehensible translation." (Daytona Beach News-Journal, Florida, 12 January 2006.)

So, how did anyone know the interpretation was inadequate?

Take a wild guess. You got it:   Florida's Seventh Circuit is among the many forward-thinking court systems which have adopted digital audio recording. Thus, when questions arose in the Alfonzo case, the actual spoken words of both the English-to-Spanish and Spanish-to-English translations were preserved in this case for later review by a qualified interpreter.

As America's courts increasingly come to deal with litigants who speak various languages other than English, this unique benefit of digital recording is becoming increasingly important — a feature not available with older, traditional methods of court reporting.

For example, California has nine "designated languages," according to Charlie Kim, an instructor of interpretation and translation* at UCLA Extension in Los Angeles.
They are Arabic, Cantonese, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Portuguese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, and Mandarin. "Those nine languages have the greatest need for interpreters within the court system," he said.

What the Future Holds . . .

Direct audio recording's value to the legal system, as America diversifies even further, is a simple matter of extrapolation. Again using Los Angeles as an example, the current school-age population there receives instruction in over ninety languages.

Although educators hope a majority of these students will become fluent in English, experience should lead to the prudent conclusion that many will not — requiring, therefore, further interpretation capacity within our future courts.

Additional "designated languages" means a growing group of interpreters, and more frequent use of translation to conduct court business. More non-English testimony given in court proceedings means an ever-increasing need for electronic reporting to ensure justice is actually done — not merely appearing to be done, when based solely upon the English record.

***
And what about Mr. Alfonzo down in Daytona Beach? The good news is, his sentence was vacated and his court process was begun anew — once again electronically recorded, of course!
* Usage note:   although it is common (and acceptable) to interchange them, strictly speaking, translation is more properly limited to written texts, and interpretation to spoken words.
— Monterey Institute of International Studies (California)

 

 

 
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Vice-President's Message
Living the vision of a few . . .

As this issue goes to print, Janet Harris, AAERT president, is on a period of personal leave, and I was asked to write the column for this edition of The Court Reporter.

It's odd to me that Webster defines vision as skill in anticipating the future, yet the kindest meaning allotted to visionary is given to fanciful or impractical ideas, views or schemes — "a visionary enthusiast."   Odd, yes, but an accurate reflection of how those words are viewed. Don't ever forget that a handful of founders and early Board members proudly wore the "visionary" stamp, so that we could live the vision together.

When I look around the industry today, it is both challenging and affirming to see the technological and administrative advances in electronic court reporting.   Throughout the country electronic court recording equipment continues to be installed at record rates.   It has been encouraging to see court administrators hire professional staff to run the equipment and ensure a clear digital court recording and, if required, a transcript.

AAERT certification has continued to be added to job announcements as "preferred," and this is a marked accomplishment of the vision and work of our founding members who realized the need for a national certification long before it was required.

We have seen increased membership in our Association, along with both formal and informal gatherings of electronic court reporters at the State level.   In our ever-evolving culture we have seen the rapid increase of non-English-speaking residents, and again electronic court reporting rises to meet a need by recording not only English content, but any language spoken.

Two years ago we met with some of our counterparts from Asia and Australia who wanted to model an electronic court reporter association after AAERT. This past year that goal was realized, and members of their association will be in Las Vegas to share their accomplishments with us. Come to our 2006 conference and take a moment to live the vision.

And from all of us to the few of you who put action to ideas twelve years ago — thank you!

Gillian Lawrence,  CERT
AAERT Vice-President
GLawrence@SeminoleCountyFL.gov

 

 

 
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The Nature of Words

This is the time of year when those of us who enjoy growing things are working the soil, digging trenches to add soil amendments, to plant new stock, to divert rainwater.

Trench comes from the Old French trenche, a path made by cutting.   A bit removed from gardening is trenchant, incisive or cutting, a participle of the Old French trenchier, which comes from the Latin truncare, to lop.   A club lopped off of a larger piece of wood is a truncheon.

Those who don't garden but who transcribe are likely to run across another cousin of trench, tranche, a class of bonds; literally, a slice.

The trunk of a tree may be a truncated bole, with limbs and branches lopped off, or at this time of burgeoning growth, a trunk may be lush with new shoots; burgeon comes from Middle English burgeonen, through Old French burjon,, a bud; from Latin burra, a shaggy garment.   Trunks used for storage were so named because they were commonly made of wood from tree trunks.

Laurel H. Stoddard, CET
On The Record Reporting & Transcription, Inc. (Texas)
laurel@ontherecordreporting.com
www.ontherecordreporting.com

 

 

 
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  Interactive Quick-Quizsimilar, yet different

Here is a ten-question quiz on homophones, words which (usually) sound alike, but are often confused.
The quiz is self-scoring while you take it, yet its results are entirely private.  See how you fare by clicking here.

 

 

 
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Why are we called court  reporters,
and not secretaries, clerks, scribes, or something else?


Battle of Hastings, 1066, The Bayeux Tapestry, detail          
The kingdom was already an ancient one, but now, during an eventful week in mid-October, it fell suddenly to a foreign invader. Defeat was bad enough, but even worse, he brought with him a vast, permanent army of occupation and a rapacious entourage of new nobles, none of whom, including the conqueror himself, spoke the people's language or knew their local customs and laws.

William of Normandy, once a mere French duke, now King of England, faced a dilemma: he was determined to establish absolute Norman control over these resentful Anglo-Saxons in his newly annexed realm — but how?

Knowledge is power, so he commissioned a census / inventory of everyone and everything in the land, down to the chickens, ducks, and pigs on each farm. And as a sop to local sensitivities, William and his successors allowed prior legal arrangements to continue operating as before, under the people's "customary," "from time immemorial," or so-called "common law" — on condition that judicial decisions of any importance be reported to the king's "chief justiciar," who could then review and overrule them if he disagreed with the results.

At first, local judges and magistrates prepared their own notes to summarize the facts of cases they heard and the decisions they rendered, and these reports were forwarded quarterly to London — somewhat akin to taking minutes of meetings for some chairman of the board's final approval. No one should conclude that these findings of fact and opinion, or court activity reports, were equivalent to what we now think of as "verbatim court reporting," but it was certainly reporting. And it was a start.

Of course, in these early years not all local officials were fully literate. Thus, a trusted clerk or someone else of good reputation in the community (not to mention superior literacy!) might attend court sessions and jot down the essential elements of the cases heard and the decisions rendered.

These quasi-official writers who did the note-taking became, in time, the court's reporters. True, they may have been called secretaries, notaries, scriveners, scribes, or clerks in other settings, but year after year, as the system evolved, those who wrote the reports to the king's officials became generically known as reporters.

Subsequent monarchs continued the reporting requirements. Thus, the notion that a central authority should keep tabs on what judges in various lower courts were up to became deeply engrained in English legal theory and practice. And benefits accrued from this system. For one, the king's chief justice became a powerful figure: he knew what was going on, and could intervene to prevent gross miscarriages of what was then viewed as "the king's justice" or "the king's peace." For another, aggrieved litigants had at least some basis for appeal if they believed a case had been wrongly decided.

Having a central repository or library of written reports also meant that prior decisions could be read and discussed. They could then serve as precedents, cited as authority for current rulings, or could be tweaked to fit novel elements in an unusual case. Thus, legal principles developed and enlarged over time as judges made new law and the king collected it in one place.

The many tomes containing the published opinions of our courts are still referred to as "reports." Indeed, the Supreme Court's website cautions that "Only the printed bound volumes of the United States Reports contain the final, official opinions of the Supreme Court of the United States."

Today, "court reporting" means so much more than just publishing volumes of final court decisions. That said, the fact that we use reporting and reporter to describe our profession, and not something else, testifies to the ancient heritage of our law, now a thousand years in the making.

 

 

 
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Product Preview:
Introducing   FTR HearingsTM
a recording / management system for meetings, hearings, conferences
Well, a major public hearing has popped up on your calendar, but at a hall you've never reported in before, and it's not clear how many will attend, and nobody can tell you anything about the PA system — or if there even is one — and they want the transcript ASAP, so you'll probably engage two, maybe three transcriptionists, which means you'll need to divide things up and then reassemble them quickly . . . and probably won't sleep well the night before.   Been there? Done that?

As a comprehensive solution, FTR presents a versatile recording / reporting management package, FTR Hearings — release date during April 2006. It's designed to look, work, and act like a standard tape recorder, yet solve the dilemmas so often faced by reporters at public meetings and hearings.

Its 2-channel recording software can record directly from microphones to a PC or laptop. It can also capture audio by interfacing with portable digital recording equipment.   (Note: currently, FTR Hearings is only compatible with certain Marantz devices, such as the Marantz® PMD671 portable digital recorder pictured to the left, below.   However, other digital audio recorders are now being tested, so further equipment compatibilities are expected soon.)   Digital notes are synchronized with direct OR interfaced audio for instant playback or retrieval.
 

A portable digital recorder or microphones can be part of the FTR Hearings solution.
 
The FTR Hearings package includes a number of FTR software products, all of which run on Microsoft's primary operating systems: Windows 2000 (at the Service Pack 4 level), or Windows XP Home / Professional (SP1 or SP2).   These programs include:

TheRecord Recorder2xTM, AnnotatorTM, PlayerTM, and ProducerTM — as well as WordLink® (an add-in to Microsoft Word), the iMicTM audio adapter, audio connector cable, and an FTR headset. This package configuration is now priced at $995.

The above package, plus a Marantz® PMD671 portable digital recorder, is currently available for $1,995.

Get more from your recordings with FTR Hearings:   edit, share, manage, copy, and annotate your work product, so accessing and managing it becomes easier and more efficient than ever.   Knowing your reporting system is ready for whatever a meeting venue will demand of it can also let you sleep a lot better the night before.

Call (877) 650-0958 or visit www.fortherecord.com for more information on any FTR product, or for an Authorized Reseller in your area.   FTR's United States offices are located in Phoenix, Arizona.

 

 

 
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Notice of 2006 Annual Business Meeting

As our bylaws require, notice is hereby given to all AAERT general, corporate, and apprentice / intern members that the Association's annual business meeting will be held at
10:45 a.m. Monday, June 5, 2006, at The Westin Casuarina Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada.

Click here for a downloadable proxy form.
Send your proxy to:

AAERT
23812 Rock Circle
Bothell, Washington   98021-8573

by Friday, May 26, 2006
.

 

 

 
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  AAERT's 13th Annual Conference Agenda
Las Vegas






 
  Sunday evening, June 4, through Tuesday evening, June 6, 2006
Certification Testing Wednesday, June 7
Click here to view current agenda details.


For Conference registration click here.
 
   








Conference Sponsors
 
    GOLD    




Your Eyes And Ears In The CourtroomTM



    SILVER    

J & J Court Transcribers, Inc.
Hamilton, New Jersey




    BRONZE    

Absolute Video, Inc.
Miami, Florida

Gal Friday Reporting & Transcription
Maricopa, Arizona



 

 

 

 
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AAERT Certification Testing
— Wednesday, June 7, 2006, Las Vegas


Examinations are scheduled in conjunction with our Conference at The Westin Casuarina Hotel.

Click here to see the day's testing schedule or for an application form.

A pre-test packet will be mailed prior to the Conference. The packet will explain what materials you should bring with you.
Note that an overview meeting is set for the day before the test, Tuesday, June 6th, at 4:00 p.m., at the Conference.
Anyone who would like to attend may sit in.

Steve Simon, CERT — ctadss1@ocnjcc.org — (407) 836-2104

 

 

 
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A warm welcome to our new members
since the January 2006 issue of The Court Reporter


AAERT members can go to our on-line Directories by clicking here.



CORPORATE MEMBERS

Anthony Douglass
Auscript Australasia Pty Ltd
tdouglass@auscript.com.au
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Cindy Sumner
National Court Reporters
ncrdepo@aol.com
Dallas, Texas


MEMBERS

Winifred Baker
      — Detroit, Michigan
Amy Barton
      — Canton, Connecticut
Helen Bell
      — Dallas, Texas
Jessica Berta
      — Edmonds, Washington
Ouida Carpenter
      — Georgetown, Delaware
Adolfo Delacuesta
      — Nutley, New Jersey
Val D'Odorico
      — Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Diane Lancaster
      — Fort Worth, Texas

Gayle Martin Lutz
      — Nampa, Idaho
Lynn Martorell
      — Rockford, Michigan
Kathy Ann McCaulou
      — Sunnyvale, California
M.J. Mitchell
      — Frenchburg, Kentucky
Gaye Monaghan
      — Lakeland, Florida
Kathy Rehling
      — Coppell, Texas
Davette Repola
      — Chandler, Arizona
Linda Rinaldi
      — Bethlehem, Connecticut
Thomas Runfola
      — Delaware, Ohio
Cherie Schierl
      — Flagstaff, Arizona
Phyllis Sullivan
      — Chicago, Illinois
Marilyn Steede
      — Southampton, Bermuda
Laurice Stevens
      — Jefferson City, Missouri
Letha Wheeler
      — Eustis, Florida

 

 

 
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Tracy Gribben-Cali, CERT,  of New Jersey
—— Reporter of the Year

I became a partner in Terry Gribben's Transcription Service in 1995.   However, long before that I was working for my mother, Theresa Gribben, who started our electronic transcription business back in 1973.   As I child, I used to pull apart the carbon copies as well as collate transcripts for her.   Then, in high school, I started doing retypes.   (Mom kept a copy of every transcript she produced, so when there was a re-request, I would retype it — yes, I was a human Xerox machine).

I attended college at Seton Hall University, where I received my B.A. in political science in 1985.   After graduation, I worked for United Airlines in their computer division, while still working for mom on nights and weekends.   In October of 1994, due to a heavy work load, she called me at my office in New York City and said, "It's time," so I handed in my notice and came on board in our family business full time.

During the third of a century since mom hung out our shingle in the early '70s, there have been many changes in the industry:   from typewriters to computers, the introduction of digital recording and now video,




enhanced software capabilities to allow transcript compression and word indexing, the advent of e-filing.   Looking back, it's been a non-stop learning curve: absorbing, adjusting, tweaking favorite old programs like WordStar — to mention just some of the intangibles which make ours a rewarding profession.

Over the years our firm has handled all types of cases:   criminal, family, medical malpractice, discrimination cases, DUI, et cetera.   I believe this is the most interesting job anyone can have.   And I wouldn't be surprised if the whole idea of "reality TV" got its start from the real-life dramas played out daily in courtrooms throughout the country (— remember Divorce Court).

***
Tracy and her husband, Joseph, live in Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey.   The Gribben firm's office is also in New Jersey, at Monmouth Beach.

 

 

 
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Elizabeth "Betty" Eastman, CERT,  of Maryland
—— Transcriber of the Year

When I was in my early teens, a friend of my mother's became a court reporter, and I became fascinated with the profession. Consequently, while I was in high school, I went to Stenotype school at night and graduated in the late '50s. However, I got sidetracked and took a different career path in government.

Meanwhile, for extra income, I transcribed part-time until I retired from Capitol Hill in the mid-'80s. At that time I became a full-time, independent court reporter for a new company called Deposition Services, Inc., being established by a dear friend, Doris Goldstein. I chucked stenography in favor of electronic reporting. It was a move I never regretted.

Somewhere along the line, my security clearance was updated from my old days on the Hill, and that began my subspecialty of working on government national security and sensitive cases. I've worked for several independent counsel, the first one on the Iran Contra scandal, and the last one as Ken Starr's court reporter for everything outside of the courthouse. I've been to the White House a dozen times taking the testimony of the president or first lady. I've worked on several spy cases, the most notable one being the Robert Hanssen affair.

Recently, a lot of my work has centered around 9/11 and its aftermath, including the 9/11 Commission and subsequent terrorism investigations. Unfortunately, many of the cases are still classified, and even the subject matter hasn't been made public yet.





But it's been quite an experience administering an oath to, or being in the presence of presidents, vice-presidents, cabinet officers, White House staffers, and such infamous individuals as Monica Lewinsky, Linda Tripp, and even the Shoebomber. This sounds like boasting, but it truly isn't. It's simply longevity in the business and having the good fortune of being in the right place at the right time. But most importantly, it is as a result of adhering to the time-honored tradition of all professional court reporters and transcribers: provide accurate, quality, timely transcripts, and keep your mouth shut.
***
Editor's note:   When not busy on court reporting or transcribing assignments, Betty supervises the training of all new court reporters and transcribers for her employer, Deposition Services, Inc.   The AAERT member who nominated her for this award wrote, "Betty will retire soon, so I feel now is the time for her to be recognized for all her past and current work in the court reporting industry." Well said.

Betty, we wish you all the best in your future retirement!
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www.aaert.org


Contact the Editor




The Court Reporter is published by
The American Association of Electronic Reporters & Transcribers, Inc.
All rights reserved, whether electronically or in print.   © 2006.

Gillian Lawrence, CERT, Chair, Publications Committee,
GLawrence@SeminoleCountyFL.gov

AAERT   /   23812 Rock Circle   /   Bothell, WA 98021-8573.

 

 

 
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