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The Court Reporter Fall/Winter 2005
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For Professionals in Electronic / Digital Court Technology

Volume 10, Number 4, Fall / Winter 2005 . . .

 

    In this issue:

  • Features

      >     Video Integration in the Legal Field

      >     TeleJudging

      >     CTC9 - Seattle

      >     CTC9 - a personal view

  • Departments

      >     President's Message:   The future is now . . .

      >     The Nature of Words

      >     Interactive Quick-Quiz for Reporters / Transcribers

  • Technical

      >     Product Preview:   WriteLink, a note-able development

      >     Burning CDs = hot stuff

      >     E-Transcripts / RealLegal

  • The Association

      >     Florida Digital Court Reporters

      >     Arizona's Keeping the Record Committee --- an update

      >     Welcome New Members

      >     Membership developments --- 2006 Renewals




Conference 2006 in
Las Vegas, June 4 - 7

 

 

 
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VIDEO INTEGRATION IN THE LEGAL FIELD
--- videotaping depositions:   some crucial considerations


(Drawn from K. Lynn Packer's presentation at AAERT's 2005 Conference, expanded upon by editorial committee;
Mr. Packer is a trial consultant in Salt Lake City, Utah [photo below].)

The adage "A picture is worth a thousand words" is usually true --- unless the picture is distorted, badly chosen, or smothered in extraneous material.  Obviously, we're talking here about videotaped depositions, and how they can be used, well or badly, in subsequent proceedings.

It was long feared that having cameras present might distract or intimidate witnesses, or lure attorneys into theatrical grandstanding.  Experience has proven otherwise.  As described by Judges Ira Brown and Robert Well in California Practice Guide: Civil Procedure Before Trial, videotaped depositions can actually reduce abuses by counsel, make witnesses more candid, preserve a visual record of real-life demeanor --- critical when weighing credibility --- and, in fact, provide "a far better record of the examination than any transcript or audiotape" standing alone.

Typically, depositions are taken to (a) discover information important to the case and (b) preserve testimony for trial.

How does deposition testimony get presented at trial?  A lawyer can read a transcript out loud, or two lawyers can "play act" reading the questions and answers in turn, or an audio recording can be played in open court, or a presentation can be made using video excerpts.  Listening to a dry reading or disembodied voices is boring.  People are used to television, and tend to remember (and believe) what they see more than what they merely hear --- plus, watching a witness testify is far more revealing than answers printed out on paper.  A witness who gets caught in a lie and blushes reveals more than the transcript can show.  Witnesses who fidget betray their discomfort in ways impossible to transcribe, or even hear on audio alone.

That said, video depositions present unique problems which need attention:
  • Shots are often framed too wide;
  • The video camera's audio output may be marginal, unless additional microphones are used;
  • Documents and exhibits tend to get short shrift.

Resolving the problems

Have a plan, and accomplish it by arriving early enough to set up properly.  When thinking about your initial setup, realize that the video may be used in court, either in its entirety or by excerpts.

Conference room tables are traditionally long and relatively narrow.  If you are at one end and the witness is at the other, the visual frame may suffer.

It is critical to frame your shot so the deponent occupies the viewing screen --- in other words, don't let the primary focus of your shot be all those shelves loaded with law books, or artwork on the wall behind the witness.  Keep the background simple.  And speaking of walls, keep the witness away from bright white backgrounds, which tend to "bloom" when viewed on badly calibrated courtroom monitors --- if necessary, reposition chairs.  (The best backgrounds are dark, or at least neutral, with the deponent facing a light source.) Do not let the witness sit in front of a brightly sunlit window --- the "backlighting" effect will overpower your shot.








(Left) Backlit "dark face"; not recommended.

 
 









Improved lighting (right).



Lights, camera, action

The witness should, very soon into the deposition, forget [s]he is being taped.  Trundling in a full panoply of Hollywood-type production equipment can defeat this goal.  Thus, when possible, work with the lighting at hand --- and if fluorescent fixtures make the witness look sickly greenish, adjust your camera's white balance.  However, certified videographers recommend having at hand a portable backdrop apparatus and video halogen light, just in case.

To ensure proper audio recording quality, EVERYBODY GETS A MICROPHONE --- including a translator.  If you want to minimize the equipment at hand, Lavaliers may be an option --- but choose inexpensive ones, because people tend to walk off with them.
To move or not to move?

Do NOT pan around the room --- you are not making a documentary film.  Frame the shot so the witness' face and torso are visible --- if possible, also the hands, so a full range of body language is preserved.  LOCK THE CAMERA DOWN ON THE TRIPOD, THEN LEAVE IT ALONE.  Do NOT zoom in on the face at some climactic moment.  In fact, do not zoom in and out on anything.  If a witness slumps down or leans to one side, let it be.  (Why?  It's part of the deponent's demeanor.) Finally, don't take it upon yourself to swing around to an attorney just because an objection is made or something interesting is said.  The attorneys are not testifying, their body language and demeanors are entirely irrelevant, and what they say will appear in the transcript anyway, assuming one is made.

An exception to the "fixed-shot" rule involves exhibits.  If the attorney asks you to zoom in and focus on a document or another piece of evidence, do so.  Be sure what you're videotaping is what they're talking about!  Do not take it upon yourself to do this just because you think it's a great idea --- wait to be instructed.  When the exhibit or demonstration is concluded, if you are not told to resume your original position, ASK for permission to do so.  The attorney who is paying the bills runs the deposition, not you.  (And there have been cases where video deposition testimony was stricken because of unauthorized camera movements.)

When the attorney conducting the deposition says to go off the record, turn off the camera and any other audio recording devices.  Although it's rare, things can sometimes get ugly, and an attorney may announce, "This deposition is over!" and storm out --- pack up and leave at that time.

After the show is over:   What about editing?

Simply put, you should never do any private editing.  You will provide only certified copies and / or the complete audiovideo master.  Attorneys may hire a production house (or you!) to perform post-deposition services such as extracting portions of testimony.  But those activities are ENTIRELY SEPARATE from your role as an electronic court reporter.  It is wise to invoice separately when wearing these different hats so there is no confusion or commingling of functions.

Post-production refinements
--- split-screen video / text synchronization


A helpful feature available with software is transcoding the video onto a CD, linked to the transcript text.  In olden days attorneys typically said, I will now READ FROM Mr. Doe's deposition testimony, page 10, lines 1 through 20. Nowadays, they can say, I will now SHOW Mr. Doe's deposition testimony, page 10, lines 1 through 20, and display both Mr. Doe in action as well as his transcribed words.


(Above) A rather cluttered, distracting presentation --- text may well be unreadable.

If you prepare such post-deposition extractions for a client, beware of cluttering up the viewing screen.  Side-by-side "split screen" may shrink both the witness and the text to near-invisibility.  There are options: it may be best to have the witness appear on top, with text displayed below.  Whatever you select, keep it simple.  Too much stuff flashing on the screen is like MTV --- perhaps entertaining, but clearly not very informative.


(Above) A simpler, cleaner presentation --- text more easily readable.

Remember, sworn deposition testimony carries the same weight as testimony given in court.  And now there's no question about it:   E-Reporting with video, the only way to HEAR IT, SEE IT, and READ IT, is the definitive method of choice for anyone who wants to preserve a fully authoritative, verifiable record.  Viewed in this light, our future is unlimited!
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TELEJUDGING

Each year nearly 65,000 Americans who are denied various Social Security benefits formally appeal those adverse decisions.  Until recently, after exhausting administrative remedies within the SSA, these appellants would appear in person before administrative law judges based in 140 hearing centers across the country.  That's a lot of judges, a lot of in-person appearances, a lot of travel for everyone concerned, and a major expense for taxpayers.

Now, just fifty ALJs, restricted to only four cities in four states, will hear these types of cases -- and they will do so by video conferencing.  Since July 1, these judges have been sitting in Miami (Florida), Cleveland (Ohio), Irvine (California), and Arlington (Virginia).  Appellants with "special and extraordinary circumstances" may still be allowed to present their cases in person.  But absent unusual situations, people will now be speaking with the ALJs via live television connections.  Such arrangements were not unheard of before, but had to be affirmatively requested by an applicant.  That procedure is now reversed: "You'll get a hearing by video unless you can show why it should not be done" that way, says Ronald Bernoski, president of the Association of Administrative Law Judges.
To handle this new type of technical workload, vendors with facilities equipped to provide tele- and video-conferencing have been lining up around the country to offer these services to the government.  The Administration believes the Treasury will realize significant savings, not to mention a speeded-up decision-making process.  Travel will be reduced, and presenting cases will be more convenient for citizen-appellants who will now have some thousands of tele/video centers to choose from, instead of the 140 major sites formerly available.

But not everyone is pleased.  Some have expressed a fear that judging the credibility of witnesses will be difficult when they are not present in the same room.  Those familiar with video depositions allay these concerns by citing their many years of experience in conducting such examinations: witness demeanor and credibility come through loud and clear.

Time will tell whether this system works as efficiently as planned.  But one thing is already known for sure: the arrangements present E-Reporting at its best and most comprehensive: verifiable audio and revealing video, together comprising a permanent record of who said what to whom, and exactly how they said it.
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  CTC9 - Seattle

The Ninth Annual Court Technology Conference in Seattle (CTC9) was bulging with a myriad of themes and catch phrases.  The most recurrent of these was "The future of," where many of the products and educational programs on display wanted you to bank on the notion that they were a decade ahead of the competition.  While that was an overstretch in some ways, many of the participating companies have done an impressive job of blending together pre-existing technologies that exist individually outside of the legal industry into a single functional package.  Other companies simply reintroduced existing products that had been built up with added features.  Everyone had something new to see, some more than others.

For digital audio recording, a major focus that has been built into existing products is remote audio streaming.  Audio streaming is a technology that allows an electronic court reporter to record a hearing, while at the same time giving an electronic transcriber who is hundreds of miles away the ability to listen and transcribe from that audio stream remotely.

Additionally, many of the newer products allow you to divide the same audio between multiple transcribers, rotating between each transcriber for 15 minutes at a time.  This technology has the potential to give electronic reporters and transcribers the same benefits as an in-house reporter, namely the ability to have a final transcript ready to present to the clients within one hour of the end of hearing.  One product with this feature that really caught my eye was DaletPlus ActiveLog --- www.dalet.com.  The broadcast quality level of their recorded video and the huge array of features really set them apart from others attempting the same thing.

Another technologically fresh idea was on display from Courtroom Connect --- www.courtroomconnect.com.  They had an interactive demo along with a white paper that discussed remote courtroom viewing.  The challenge was a hearing in a very small courtroom, where more people wanted to attend than could physically fit.  In their example, they were able to stream audio and video from the courtroom system over the internet to a web page.  Think of the video you might see on a major news channel website such as CNN or MSNBC.  The same quality of video and audio was embedded in a web page while underneath, a real time transcript of the hearing scrolled to match what was happening.  The page also had a chat box, allowing those who have logged into the web page to communicate with each other.
Attorneys across the nation, many of whom were involved in the case but could not physically attend, paid a fee to gain the login information that allowed them to access the website.  From the website, they could participate by sending messages via email, cell phone or BlackBerry to the attorneys inside the courtroom itself.  The technologies to do this have existed outside of the courtroom for a long time (streaming internet video, internet chat), but have only now been integrated into a solution that contains value for our industry.

Video is another big story that has really taken off.  Almost every major recording product now supports video in one way or another.  Companies have spent a lot of time and money to research this area, and for good reason.  Video recording is extremely complicated and requires a completely different set of expertise than does audio.  A very small sampling of things you need to know to do it right are the correct placement and mounting of the cameras, the encoding and compression methods of video files for streaming, video resolutions, video interfaces such as firewire (IEEE-1394) or composite, and the increased hardware requirements to record and play back video.  The ForTheRecord (www.fortherecord.com) booth, for example, had four cameras mounted to each corner of their display area with the video streams being fed into their main recording system.  A large four-screen split view allowed you to see all angles of the demonstration through TheRecord Reporter software.  Only two years ago, TheRecord series of video software didn't even exist.  It's amazing to see how far video recording has come in such a short amount of time.

Much of the technology on display could completely change the face of the industry in significant ways.  However, much of the infrastructure that this technology requires is not yet in place in far too many courtrooms around the nation.  One example of what is missing in most courtrooms is easily accessible wireless or wired internet access.  Existing technology has been called "The Future" only because some in the industry have been slow to embrace it.  Those of us who want to "see the future now" must focus on updating those courts which still operate with older technology.  It's a bit like dreaming about cherry pie with ice cream, when all you have is the ice cream and there's no pie in sight.

--- Andre Morris, IT Manager, AV Tronics, Inc. (Arizona), andre@avtronics.com


Courtroom 21 Project, CTC9, Seattle (College of William and Mary Law School)
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    CTC9 --- a personal view
Seattle's mid-September weather was lovely as the Court Technology Conference began its ninth gathering of court personnel and other interested participants.  My hotel was about a half mile from the Washington State Convention and Trade Center, so I was able to enjoy a comfortably brisk walk to and from the Center each day.

The Center was swarming with activity by the time I arrived that first morning.  I checked in and got my gratis nylon backpack-type bag meant to hold the multitudes of brochures, fliers, and other materials being handed out everywhere, along with my Conference Program 2005.

The first session I attended was Courtroom 21's "Technology Enhanced Trial and Appellate Courtrooms, A Primer and An Update." The speaker was Fred Lederer, founder and director of the Courtroom 21 Project at William and Mary School of Law.  The Project is a center for demonstrating and experimenting with courtroom technology, and includes the most technologically advanced trial and appellate courtroom in the world.

Topics discussed by Lederer included hypertext-linked motion and appellate briefs, evidence presentations, the court record, remote appearances, courtroom communications, interpretation, and assisted technology for the disabled.  The court record involves capturing the record, read-backs, timely use by counsel and judge at the hearing, and appellate use.  Options for capturing the record include audio recording, digital audiovideo recording, stenographic and voice writers' real time, multi-media such as used in the Disney trial, and remote appearances.

Lederer demonstrated a remote video conference with several attendees, each from a different location and all at the same time on a split screen.  When he showed a video of a trial held in Courtroom 21, which is in Virginia, and the judge, who was in Massachusetts, was brought in remotely, I was reminded of AAERT's 2003 convention in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Our guest speaker that year was Arthur Hoyle, Associate Lecturer from the University of Canberra, Australia.  He spoke to us via satellite from his office "down under." It's nice to know we are in such good company when it comes to our use of technology.
I spent the next morning perusing the booths in the Exhibit Hall, stopping by the major players, JAVS, CourtSmart, and ForTheRecord.

JAVS had on display their new portable recorder unit, they called it "the black box." This unit will store 30 months of case files internally without need for an external PC, and brings mobility to their recording lineup.

At the CourtSmart booth, I learned of a new player they say will soon be bundled in with all CourtSmart audio CDs.  It combines the ASCII transcript into the same window as the player application, and while the audio is playing, the transcript scrolls to match it based on built-in voice recognition

FTR's presentations generated a great deal of interest as they introduced their soon-to-be-released OCR pen, WriteLink.  You use the pen with a specialized pad of paper to take handwritten notes of the proceedings.  When finished, you put the pen in its docking station and all your notes are transferred to your computer, date and time synched to the FTR recording of the proceedings.  They passed the pen around for people to try it, and it was pretty cool.

That afternoon, at the "Kick the High-Tech Tires" session, Courtroom 21 presented the current high-tech methods of capturing the record, including stenographic real-time, voice writers real-time, and digital audiovideo recording methods.  AAERT President, Janet Harris, was on hand to demonstrate E-Reporting.  There was a constant stream of interested onlookers checking out these various methods of taking the record.

Spending time with business-related friends and acquaintances only added to the flavor of the conference.  I would highly recommend attending the 2007 CTC10 in Tampa, Florida if you can.  For those of you who were unable to attend CTC9, you can see some of the speakers' full presentations on the National Center for State Courts website at www.nsconline.org.

--- Karen Samcoe, President, AV Tronics, Inc., (Arizona)
karen@avtronics.com
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President's Message

The future is now . . .

Our newsletter has a new look, a new feel, and a whole new attitude!  If you haven't already signed up for the E-newsletter version, just send a quick note / request to our database manager.   Surf its index, jump to articles, take part when it has interactive features, and link to relevant sites, with a simple click!

AAERT embraces technology for our organization and for our industry.  Last month we attended the Court Technology Conference 9 conference in Seattle.  Vendor booths not sporting flat screens, smartboards, audio and video, faded quickly from attendees' memories.  Digital [you name it] has become the catchword of our times: digital audio, digital video, digital exhibits, digital records, digitize, digitize --- a digital hum filled the conference hall.
Multimedia records are here to stay.  Regardless of the method used to capture the record, the ultimate product will be an integration of text, sound, video, and graphics.  E-Reporters, now more than ever, need to take their certifications seriously and stay abreast of the latest technology available in order to offer the full-range record that clients are going to be demanding soon.

Everyone agrees, GREAT AUDIO IS THE KEY to any successful multimedia record, and AAERT members understand what is needed for great audio better than anyone else.  True, we can't all have the latest and greatest, but we strongly encourage you to check out enhancement products as they come onto the market, and make sure you are using the best equipment you can afford for your application --- it is vital to success.  As technology improves, so does equipment quality --- yet prices remain reasonable.  There really is no excuse for poor-quality recordings --- at least in terms of the equipment / software available.

We still see, however, a failure on the part of some in the industry to adapt.  Old-tech thinking in a new-tech world is going to create a lot of problems.  Unfortunately, old-tech thinkers simply do not understand why they need to change.  They resist suggestions to integrate new technology, and ultimately create obstacles which can impede proven efficiency and progress.  The good news is, AAERT members already know, not only the why, but also the how.  For us, the "digital future" is already at hand.

Janet B. Harris,  CERT
AAERT President
jan@harrisreporting.com
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The Nature of Words

Now that summer has passed and the sun has moved south of the celestial equator, it's a good time to think on words related to sun and shade   The Greeks called the sun Helios; the Romans, Sol.  In October the year is moving toward solstice (from sol, sun, and a form of sistere, to stand), when the sun stands still in its progression southward and begins, from an earthly perspective, to move back toward the north.

Skywatchers are delighted by the uncommon sight of the parhelic (para-, beside) circle that forms when ice crystals in cirrus clouds of just the right thickness veil the sun, and thus a giant halo appears to encircle the sun.  Sometimes only faint rainbow patches of the circle are visible on either side of the sun, parhelions, called sundogs because they appear to "dog" the sun.

A rare privilege is to see an anthelion (ant-, against or opposite).  Once while flying, I happened to look out the window when sun, plane, and clouds were appropriately aligned, and from the shady side of the plane I saw, against the clouds below, a miniature rainbow forming a complete circle, with the shadow of the airplane centered in it.

For shade, one might carry a parasol (good old sol again) or an umbrella, umbra being the Latin word for shade or shadow.  From umbra are also derived umbrage, that vague, shadowy feeling of suspicion, and adumbrate, to foreshadow.  In art one might use the colors raw or burnt umber, from the French terre d'ombre, earth shadow.

--- Laurel H. Stoddard, CET, On The Record Reporting & Transcription, Inc. (Texas)
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Interactive Quick-Quiz for Reporters / Transcribers

Here is a ten-question quiz for your delectation --- or at least we hope it proves enjoyable.  Are you up to it?  Of course, you are!
And the good news is, it's self-scoring while you take it, yet its results are entirely private.  See how you fare by clicking here.
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Product Preview:   WriteLink, a note-able development

Imagine jotting down a "smart note" that remembers when in the proceedings you wrote it, and retrieves that specific audio segment for you to review later -- days, weeks, or even months down the road.  Imagine writing your reporter notes quietly again, pen on paper, with no keyboard-clicking heard in the courtroom.

Well, imagine no longer:   such a system is at hand, not only for reporters, but for judges, clerks -- and, yes, for attorneys, too.  At Court Technology Conference 9 in Seattle, FTR demonstrated WriteLink, its newest ThinkLink-enabled product.  This Anoto technology (www.anoto.com) lets handwritten notes -- even sketches and drawings! -- be uploaded to a computer, and this new technology allows automatic time-linking of those notes to a simultaneous audiovideo recording.

After March 2006, WriteLink's expected release date, it will be possible for anyone to walk into any courtroom in the country which uses FTR's recording system and, with a specially designed electronic pen and pad, take personal, private notes about a case.  The penned information is stored directly to PC files.

Just two pieces of information are needed to associate and synchronize these notes to the audiovideo -- the name of the recorder (generally the courtroom number) and the FTR time (often displayed on an external clock).  When the session is over, the audiovideo can be obtained from the E-Reporter and loaded into FTR Player Plus or TheRecordPlayer -- free downloads available at www.fortherecord.com.  Then the linkage occurs between your "smart notes" and the electronic recording.

Only digital technology is making such significant enhancements in court reporting possible -- note-worthy developments, indeed!
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BURNING CDs = hot stuff

We have all experienced the convenience of recording and transcribing from digital audio recordings, but what else can it do for us?  Did you know that you can convert the format of your digital audio recording, recorded from your favorite digital court recording software, to play through your Windows Media Player or directly on a CD Player?

By simply using the features provided within your computer's CD-burning system, you can create "music-type" CDs of virtually any digital recording.  ("Burning" a CD is tech-talk for "creating" one.)

Let's use, for example, multiple depositions taken pertaining to the same case.  In this example I will use the Roxio CD-burning software and the FTR Gold digital recording program.

Open the first deposition's audio file via the FTR Gold Player Plus software, and use the Save-to-Format option provided with the software.  This Save option converts your audio to a format compatible with standard CD players.  In my example, we'll save this deposition in the WAV format.  Repeat that process for any other depositions' audios you want to burn.

Once completed, open your Roxio Easy CD Creator software (I'm using version 6).  Open the Creator Classic option and choose the Music CD option.  Add the previously converted files to your project list.  After being added to your project list, each of these files now represents a track.  (Just think of it as songs on a music CD -- each song on its own track.)  The only thing left now is to burn the CD.  Your CD is now playable on any standard CD player, even in your car stereo.

Offer this to your clients.  They are guaranteed to love the convenience of reviewing their cases from the convenience of their car CD players, at home, or at the office.

--- Lisa Hohol, Ninth Judicial Circuit (Florida)









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E-Transcripts / RealLegal
(Presentation by Rebecca Askew at AAERT's 2006 Conference)
Rebecca Askew, general counsel and market development director for RealLegal, LLC, presented RealLegal's E-Transcript and Publisher products to attendees of AAERT's 2005 convention in Arlington, Virginia.

E-Transcript, created in 1996, is considered by many to be the standard in the industry.  It provides standardized transcripts in interactive files which can be delivered by e-mail, diskette, or Publisher, another RealLegal product.  Attorneys, judges, and other authorized recipients can download a free viewer, allowing them to receive the product and import it into almost any litigation software they may be using.

Rebecca went over E-Transcript's features, including condensed print, word indices, and digital certification.  It also is virus-protected, encrypted, and secure for e-mail delivery.  Unlike the commonly used Acrobat PDF format, E-Transcript is compressed, so you can easily send large files by e-mail.  And E-Transcript comes with 18 months of technical support.
RealLegal's Publisher program allows bundling of audio, video, transcripts, exhibits, and other documents onto a compact disc or on a secure web site.  Attorneys can then import these seamlessly into their litigation software.

Askew also discussed RealLegal's Exemplaris product, a web repository which provides web-based storage and sales.  Exemplaris allows Federal court reporters to upload their final product for clients to purchase from a secure site.  In Florida, during the hurricanes last year, reporters discovered they could upload and use Exemplaris as a disaster-preparedness alternative.

Rebecca provided attendees with brochures on E-Transcript and Publisher, each with a demo disc included, along with a tip sheet on how to add Word and WordPerfect files into E-Transcript Manager.

--- Karen Samcoe, President, AV Tronics, Inc., (Arizona) karen@avtronics.com
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Florida Digital Court Reporters

Florida's Fifteenth Judicial Circuit hosted the second annual meeting of the Florida Digital Court Reporters on May 6, 2005 at the Main Judicial Complex in West Palm Beach.  After a fascinating tour of the courthouse, which culminated with a rooftop photo overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway with the Island of Palm Beach and the Atlantic Ocean in the background, panelists discussed Transcript and Court Reporter Procedures.

The afternoon session featured a review by Rick Hussey, Fifteenth Judicial Circuit, of the "Minimum Standards for Integrated Court Reporting in Florida." Former Chief Judge Richard Oftedal (Fifteenth Circuit) and Judge Joel T. Lazarus (Seventeenth Circuit) gave their perspectives on the use of digital court reporting in their circuits.

The third annual meeting of the Florida Digital Court Reporters will be hosted by the Seventeenth Circuit in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.  To learn more about this meeting, contact Gillian Lawrence, ctergl1@ocnjcc.org.
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Arizona's Keeping the Record Committee --- an update
Well, it's almost the end of another year of Committee meetings, inclusions and exclusions of rules and procedures, all dedicated to the idea of answering the infamous question of what are the best ways for a court to keep the record.  At the end of the day, does it matter whether a hearing is recorded via electronic or stenographic means if the product, transcript, is the same?  We've determined that it's the quality of the recordings, the transcribers, and yes, the stenographers, that answer this question.  We've gone from being individuals, all with our own agendas, to being a more cohesive group, striving toward the common goal of capturing an accurate record of court proceedings.

In reaching our goals, our Committee has broken into two subcommittees, the Standards Work Group and the Rules Work Group.  The Rules Work Group has taken on the laborious task of going through each and every Rule in Arizona related to reporting, transcription, preparation of the record, etc., and determining whether they need to be changed to reflect the new technologies being utilized in the courts in Arizona or whether they have the sufficient language in place to continue to address the courts' needs.  We are currently focusing on Rule 31 which relates to filing the verbatim record on appeal.  In many instances, court reporter references are being changed to reflect certified court reporters, as Arizona has its own certification process for stenographers, and the verbiage electronic or other means is being added to sections previously reflecting stenographic means only.  In this, we're attempting to leave the rules open for continued variations of the courts on the manner in which they capture the record.
The Standards Work Group has created a transcription manual for anyone preparing transcripts which have been electronically recorded in the State of Arizona, to create a consistency occasionally lacking, along with procedures for taking down an electronic recording in the courts.  We have determined that many of the courts in the U.S. have a transcript coordinator or individual who "tracks" the preparation of cases, and works directly with transcribers.  We're in the process of creating a memo on the necessity of this position to keep the court dockets moving and eliminate the confusion and delays experienced by other courts when no one seems to be in charge.

We are plodding forward and actually having a good time (most of the time).  I'm again honored that I've been provided this opportunity to work on this Committee and am attempting to keep everyone's best interests in mind as I serve on the KTR.  I encourage any of you who are in states going through similar changes and growth, to contact me with any questions or comments you may have.  I would love to hear from you!

Our industry is in a strong growth mode and it's a very exciting time for all of us.  Remember, it's your profession, it's your industry.  Take the time to contact your court if you see something that can be improved upon, whether it's changing a microphone or a procedure for ordering a transcript.  Our industry is affected by what we all do; let's continue to push it forward by continuing to strive for perfection.  In the meantime, I'll keep you posted on Arizona's progress and other states as I happen upon them.  Happy reporting and transcribing!

--- Kimberly McCright-Young, CET**D (Arizona)
     Chair, Government Relations Committee
     k.mccright@comcast.net
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A warm welcome to our new members since 2005's Conference
AAERT members can go to our on-line Directories by clicking here.
Corporate Members

Dixie Cooksey
    --- Sacramento, California
Esteban Diaz
    --- Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Laura Hinton
    --- Roswell, New Mexico
Toni Hudson
    --- Corpus Christi, Texas
Steven Joyce
    --- Staten Island, New York
Kate Meyers
    --- Portland, Maine
Rosalie Orosa
    --- Sacramento, California
Coleen Rand
    --- Lafayette, New Jersey

Members

Ruth Bahri -- Arizona
Aryeh Bak -- New York
Christine Clayton -- Arizona
Bridget Falk -- Wisconsin
DeAndre Fields -- Florida
Melissa Fuca -- Arizona
Diane Goodwyn -- New York
Rochelle Grant -- New York
Mary Henry -- Texas
Janet Jirak -- Florida
Laurie Landry -- New Hampshire
Sandra Lukacs -- Florida
Jodi Marasia -- Florida
Sheri McAlister -- Arizona
Katherine McNally -- Arizona
Cornelia Mueller -- Florida
Patricia Noell -- Arizona
Andrea Paige -- Pennsylvania
Donna Palamar -- New York
Kathleen Price -- New Jersey
Jennifer Privitera -- Arizona
Shannon Romero -- Arizona
Jerilyn Shaw -- Arizona
Cheryl Snavely -- Mississippi
Christine Talley -- Colorado
Christine Tollefsen -- New Jersey
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Membership developments --- 2006 Renewals

It's been just under a decade now since our General membership dues structure was last amended.  Our opportunities and our needs continue to expand.  In order to best serve our members, the Board has set dues for General members at $85 per year, and this will appear on 2006's renewal notices.

Those newly joining us after July 1, 2005 have membership for an actual year counting from their joining dates, rather than reverting to a calendar-year system.  This timing amendment will will not affect the large majority of current members who are already on our former calendar-year system, so their renewal reminders will come to them, as usual, around mid-November each year.

E-Reporting's future is promising and bright, if we have the wherewithal to set its agenda and make it ours!

--- Bill Wagner, CET, Treasurer, aaert@blarg.net.
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              The Court Reporter is published by
The American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers, Inc.
www.aaert.org Both electronically and in print, all rights reserved, © 2005.

Gillian Lawrence, CERT, Chair, Publications Committee, ctergl1@ocnjcc.org
AAERT   /   23812 Rock Circle   /   Bothell, WA 98021-8573.

 

 

 
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