I wanted to share my thoughts on the things I learned and the experiences I had while attending the AAERT annual conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota this year. This was my first time attending, and I am glad that I did. Not only did I meet a lot of very nice, informative, and professional people, but I was able to network with some of the top professionals in our business.
What I learned:
When we visited the Hennepin County Central Monitoring Room at the Hennepin County Government Center where the courthouse is located, I was surprised to learn that a lot of courts have not only moved over to digital recording without a reporter in the courtroom, but that a lot of courts now have reporting hubs where one person listens to two or more proceedings at once monitoring the courtrooms while taking notes and listening to the audio quality. There are multiple people monitoring different courtrooms at the same time.
I applaud them on what they are required to do. I don't know that I could listen to more than one proceeding and capture the important information going on in each one. I am very glad that I only have to listen to one proceeding at a time, but I am thrilled that I actually was able to see and experience for myself how the product that I access sometimes gets produced before it comes to me.
We listened to "Courts Around the World" presented by Charlotte Pache, Managing Director, DTI, Australia. She explained how courts around the world are using this same type of technology monitoring courtrooms and have been for years, how they get jobs completed, and how they pay for the end product.
A computer forensics expert, Mark Lanterman, also presented. He basically scared the you-know-what out of me, but I found out that I am not safe on my computer, my phone, or at my bank. I'm trying hard to give up my debit card and go cash, but that's hard to do sometimes. Like he said, "Leave your debit cards at home." He showed us some interesting things about what the hackers of the world are able to do, see, hear, take, basically, whatever they want to do. Mr. Lanterman also gave us some very useful tricks and things we could do to improve our security, but we will never be truly secure unless we use a Mac computer apparently. I am thinking I need an iPad for my personal stuff like Facebook, banking, or email if I want to stay safe.
Lisa Dees and Tina Schaeffer, CER, CET did a great job showing us how to set up a courtroom or conference room for recording. They showed us the equipment that would be needed and how and where it should be placed, also emphasizing to pay attention to whatever might be nearby, i.e., an air vent or air conditioner running. It made me think of possibly, down the road at some point, going for my CER and doing a little reporting on the side.
We heard from judges who have been on the bench a long time and a short time. They all had interesting viewpoints to share with us about technology and how judges are coping with the changes and also, what they are now required to do with many states moving over to all digital courtrooms.
Who I met:
I was able to meet Sherry Simmons who is a ball of energy. Kudos and great job, Sherry, welcoming conference attendees. There were many good experiences and speakers. I had the best time meeting new friends, networking, and finding out more about this business that I have chosen. I met Gail Malm Armstrong who helped me with my first article for a previous newsletter. I was very surprised when I got into the Super Shuttle van at 4:45 a.m. to find Gail sitting there waiting for me. Well, not really. She was going home, too.
Gail encouraged me to write another article about my journey to this place in my life. So this is the experience I decided to write about first. I know there will be many articles about the convention, but I thought I would add my thoughts to it also as a new-timer.
I know that AAERT is planning on offering a video of the conference for those who could not attend. When that happens, I would highly recommend viewing it. I think we're lucky to have an organization that backs us, brings us together, and is committed to helping us to do the best we can in our jobs.