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AAERT AAERT AAERT AAERT AAERT AAERT
For Professionals in Electronic /
Digital Court Technology
Volume 14, Number 1 — Spring 2009
. . .
- Your Association
Digital court reporting in depositions
— an emerging factor in Florida's important market
The gradual decline in stenographic court reporting school graduates
nationwide has inevitably led to the closing of South Florida's last
brick-and-mortar machine shorthand stenography school. Aspiring
steno reporters are now left with online education as their only option.
With few new court reporting graduates, the pool of shorthand reporters in
South Florida is dwindling. Recognizing the forthcoming shortage, many
companies and law firms in South Florida are switching to alternative
court reporting options such as digital reporting.
In what may prove to be a benchmark decision, should other states follow in
Florida's footsteps, the state has officially recognized digital court
reporting by amending its Rules of Judicial Administration.
Rule 2.535(a) states:
AAERT member Jared Sandel contributes Expert Author articles
to Ezine Articles. The remarks below are adapted from
his "Digital Court Reporting For Depositions — An Emerging Market
in South Florida,"
separation allows the transcriber to separate voices during moments when
people are talking over each other. The digital reporter also takes down
time stamped notes throughout the deposition. These notes are linked to
their corresponding segment of audio and allow a digital reporter to
document speakers and note correct spellings of proper nouns.
Digital reporters provide the same services as stenographers, including
but not limited to: swearing in the witness; taking down the record;
noting objections; playing back testimony; and, of course,
In fact, digital reporters are capable of producing
what's known as a true verbatim transcript. The verbatim transcription
advantage that digital reporters enjoy
can be attributed to their ability to listen to the actual testimony in
digital quality sound in order to proofread the transcript text against
the audio file. This crucial step enables the transcriber to verify the
accuracy of the words themselves, not just grammatical accuracy.
"'Court reporting' means the act of making a verbatim record of the
spoken word, whether by the use of written symbols, stenomask equipment,
or electronic devices, in any proceedings pending in any of the courts
of this state, including all discovery proceedings conducted in connection
therewith, any proceedings reported for the court's own use, and all
proceedings required by statute to be reported by an approved court
reporter or civil court reporter. It does not mean the act of taking
witness statements not intended for use in court as substantive evidence."
Digital reporting is filling a very important need, particularly
in South Florida. (For non-Floridian readers, "South Florida"
includes the three most populous counties in the state.) Our
area is a
hotbed of litigation, and digital reporting is capable of handling all
usual engagements at a fraction of the cost of stenographers. A
digital reporter can typically offer 30% savings over a stenographic
Digital reporters take down the record using microphones
which rest unobtrusively on the table. Our firm, Continental
Reporting Service, uses unidirectional microphones exclusively
in deposition digital reporting because they are capable of isolating
each speaker's voice. Each speaker's voice is then recorded on its
— Jared Sandel, CER**D
Manager, Florida Operations
Continental Reporting Service, Inc.
AAERT's Certification Program
— Origins and Development
In the 1960s and 1970s, courts began to look for alternative methods of
traditional stenograph court reporting for budgetary reasons. Those
courts began using analog tape recorders to supplement coverage of lower
courts and depositions. Tape recording technology changed from
reel-to-reel recording systems to cassette tape recording systems through
the early 1980s, and then to the development of digital recording systems
starting in the latter part of the 1990s. As courts grew, so did the use
of electronic and digital court reporting technology to the point that
the technology is used in virtually all types of courts and discovery
work. As budgets became strained to the breaking point and technology
advanced, the courts struggled to find new ways to cover more with
less. Many court systems now employ a centralized system of digital
court reporting which provides one digital court reporter with the
ability to cover multiple venues. Courts today now use a blend of
court reporting technologies, including electronic/digital,
stenographic, real-time, and voice writing with voice recognition
software to capture and reproduce the spoken record.
The National Shorthand Reporters Association (NSRA) was founded in 1899
as a national association for court reporters utilizing the stenographic
method of court reporting. That Association changed its name in 1991 to
the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA). The National Verbatim
Reporters Association (NVRA) was founded in 1967 as a national
organization for court reporters utilizing voice writing (formerly
referred to as stenomask) technology. But until 1994, there was no
national association for the group of people who have become widely
referred to as electronic court reporters, and, therefore, no
standardization and best practices developed and adopted for electronic
court reporters on a national scale.
The American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers (AAERT)
was established in 1994. This provided a forum for
electronic court reporters (ECRs) to network among one another on a
national level and filled the void that existed for best practices and
certification of electronic court reporters and transcribers who were
using the electronic method of court reporting. The Association was
co-founded by Connie Rill (California), Janet Harris (Wisconsin),
and Steve Townsend (Arizona), soon joined by charter Board
members Sunny Peer (Texas), Bill Wagner (Washington),
Jim Bowen (New Jersey), Mary Ann Lutz (California), and
Gloria Kron (Alaska). AAERT's first annual conference
took place in April of 1994.
Because the Board of Directors realized the
new Association would have no standing in the court reporting community
without a viable certification process for ECRs, it established a
certification program and appointed Jim Bowen as chair of its
Certification Committee. Jim brought with him previous experience
working on the certification board of the State of New Jersey and,
therefore, had great insight into developing a certification program. The
Committee also included Connie Rill, Bill Wagner, and Mary Ann Lutz. With
assistance from Bill Moran of the Administrative Office of the United
States Courts in Washington, D.C., guidelines were established for
recording and transcribing electronic court recordings. The Board of
Directors contracted with The Michael Consulting Group (an
independent consulting firm in Sacramento, California) to help with
recommendations for establishing certification testing procedures and
Based on its review of similar certification examinations, The
Michael Consulting Group made recommendations on the basic aspects of
the certification process including, but not limited to, proctoring
the examination, scoring (including pass/fail rates), and notification
of results. The Michael Consulting Group also recommended two separate
certification tests, one for Reporters and one for Transcribers. Based on
these recommendations and guidelines, the certification examinations were
formatted as they exist today.
Using resources from federal court reporting materials, specific state
stenographic and transcriber certification materials, electronic court
recording equipment manufacturers' specifications, legal dictionaries,
and information from experienced Association members, the Committee
prepared the first written tests to be used in the certification program.
Much of the material used here was also available to Bill Wagner as he
worked on the first official AAERT ECR best practices guide. This
Certification Test Study Guide documents best practices in
electronic court reporting and transcribing, as well as serves as an aid
to AAERT members as they prepare to participate in the AAERT Certification
Examination process. The Guide was written using federal guidelines
for transcription as its standard because of the differences found among
Initial scripts used for Reporter Practical Examinations and for
Transcriber Practical Examinations were written by Connie Rill, Bill
Wagner, and Mary Ann Lutz. Video- and audiotape production
was directed by Mary Ann Lutz.
The newly developed certification program was tested in 1995. As a
result of that test, minor corrections and modifications were made to
the test and the procedures. Certification Chair Jim Bowen reviewed
the written questions, organized them according to the chapters of the
Study Guide, and oversaw the preparation of additional questions based
on the Guide to enlarge each section.
He then reorganized the tests to separate Reporter written test
questions from Transcriber written test questions. This established
the test format currently in use today.
The first official certification examinations were given in 1996.
AAERT established two testing certification test dates annually. The
first certification test date and location is at our annual conference,
and the second date is the last Saturday in October. The
sites of the second test are selected regionally based on demand.
The format that was established called for three basic certification
designations. The first designation is the Certified Electronic
Reporter (CER); the second is the Certified Electronic Transcriber (CET);
and the third is the Certified Electronic Reporter and
Transcriber (CERT). A CERT certification is automatically awarded
upon earning both the CER and CET certification.
Each certification package has two legs. The first leg is a written
examination, and the second is practical examination. Performance
on individual written test questions and practical examinations are
constantly reviewed to ensure accuracy and fairness.
As digital court reporting grew into acceptance in the United States,
it became clear that AAERT needed to adopt a certification program for
Digital Court Reporters (DCRs) as well as ECRs. In 2003, AAERT
updated the Study Guide and developed a digital certification
program. In the Digital certification test program, written test
questions not applicable to DCRs were removed and replaced with
questions relating to digital court reporting and transcribing.
Practical examinations using analog tape recordings were replaced
with digital recordings. Those certifications earned are CER**D,
CET**D and CERT*D, respectively.
Since 2003, the number of analog
certification examinations has dramatically decreased and the number
of digital certifications has dramatically increased, to the point
that at the present time more than 90 percent of all AAERT
certifications earned are digital.
Electronic Reporter (Analog or Digital) Certification
It is AAERT's position that an ECR is not adequately performing his/her
duties as a court reporter without ensuring a proper recording is being
made. Monitoring the proceeding and creating sufficient annotations on
a log sheet aid the transcriptionist in the production of the transcript
from the audio recording, as well as enabling quick location of specific
passages in the recording for review and playback as may be necessary.
Accordingly, to obtain a CER certification, the reporter is required to
pass a 100-question examination and produce a comprehensive set of log
notes from a court proceeding. The written
examination is in three sections:
• Section One concerns court reporting
and technical questions;
• Section Two concerns general court procedures
and practices; and
• Section Three concerns vocabulary.
A 70 percent passing score must be obtained in each category to be
considered a passing score. A member taking the examination has 90
minutes to complete it.
The second leg of the certification examination is the practical
examination. The practical examination involves creating a set of log
notes or annotations while observing a mock court proceeding. The log
notes are scored on content and accuracy, on a variety of annotation
criteria. An 80 percent passing score must be obtained to be considered
a passing score. A member taking the examination is given 25 minutes to
prepare his/her log notes, 30 minutes to observe the mock trial and
create the log notes/annotations, and then an additional 25 minutes
to complete and make any necessary corrections or changes to the log
notes/annotations. AAERT has four videotaped tests for the practical
Once a member passes both legs of the certification examination, he/she
is awarded the CER certificate. If a member passes one leg, but not
the other, then the member must take only that one leg that he/she did
not pass again in order to complete the CER certification.
As the analog version of the certification (CER) deals mainly with the
use of analog tape systems, the digital version of the certification
(CER**D) deals with digital recordings. The written test questions
are in the same three sections, but concentrate on digital reporting.
The practical test requires the member to prepare his/her log notes on
a laptop using annotation software, as opposed to handwritten log
notes. AAERT has three practical reporter examinations on DVD.
Electronic Transcriber (Analog or Digital) Certification
While the CER and CER**D certification program concerns electronic and
digital court reporting, the CET and CET**D certification program
concerns electronic and digital transcribing. The basic examination
procedures are the same. There are two legs of the examination. The
first leg is the written test, and the second is the practical test.
The written examination is a 100-question test in three sections:
• Section One concerns transcript format and
• Section Two concerns general court procedures
and practices; and
• Section Three concerns vocabulary.
A 70 percent passing score must be obtained in
each category to be considered a passing score. A member taking the
examination has 90 minutes to complete it.
The practical examination is a transcription examination. Members are
given a mock court proceeding recorded on four-channel audiotape. He/she is
required to complete ten full pages of transcript (plus the
title page, index and certificate). A passing score is 98 percent
accuracy. A member taking this examination has 120 minutes to complete
it. AAERT has four practical examinations on analog tape.
As the analog version of the certification (CET) deals mainly with the
use of analog tape systems, the digital version of the certification
(CET**D) deals with digital recordings. The written test questions are
in the same three sections, but concentrate on digital transcription.
The practical test requires the member to prepare his/her transcript
from a digital recording on a laptop using digital software, as opposed
to using an analog tape transcriber. AAERT currently has three practical
transcriber examinations on CD.
Electronic Reporter/Transcriber (Analog or Digital) Certification
The CERT certification is obtained by receiving both the CER and CET
certification. Similarly, to obtain the CERT*D, the member must
receive both the CER**D and CET**D certification.
The Present and the Future of AAERT Certification
Since its inception, AAERT has maintained and upgraded its
certification program through the present day. Digital court reporting
has become an ever-increasing methodology used by the courts, and AAERT
saw the need to adopt a certification program for digital court
reporting. Therefore, the Association began digital certification
testing in 2003, based on its analog tape certification program.
In 2008, the Association upgraded all of its practical examinations,
retiring old certification tests and introducing new ones, thanks to
the efforts of Board members Jan Harris and Bill Wagner.
Since 1994, hundreds of members in states all across the United States
have obtained their electronic/digital certifications through AAERT.
The Association is now recognized in many states as the association best
suited to offer certification for electronic and digital court
reporters. Not only ECRs and DCRs are participating in the AAERT
Certification program, but stenograph reporters who transcribe both
from stenographic notes and digital recordings are, as well. Just as
first envisioned back in 1994, AAERT has become the authority in electronic
and digital court reporting, both in establishing best practices and
While it is clear that NCRA is the association dedicated to best
practices and certification of stenographic court reporting, it is
also clear that NVRA is best suited to providing best practices
and certification to voice writing, and AAERT is best suited to
providing best practices and certification to electronic/digital
court reporting. None of the three organizations is competent to dictate
practices/procedures/certification for the others. Each organization
is uniquely suited to represent its own court reporting methodology.
* * * * *
A special note of thanks is owed to Jim Bowen, the first AAERT
Certification Chair, who provided much of the material used in the
preparation of this overview. It should also be noted that without
the special efforts of co-founders Connie Rill, Jan Harris, and Steve
Townsend, as well as Bill Wagner and Mary Ann Lutz, the AAERT
certification program would never have happened.
— Steve Simon, CERT
Certification Committee Chair
AAERT's Advisory Board — member profiles
Steve Townsend is CEO of A/V Tronics, Inc.
He has been an owner of the
company since 1985 and managed the business from 1985 until 1995 when he
joined FTR Limited. He left FTR in 2007 to return to A/V Tronics.
Mr. Townsend has extensive experience in the courtroom and hearing room
reporting and transcription. Between 1985 and 1995, Townsend grew A/V
Tronics from a small "secretarial service" to the largest court
transcription company in the Southwest, with offices in Phoenix and
Los Angeles. He was active in trade associations and legislative efforts
to allow increased use of electronic recording methods in courts,
hearing rooms and depositions.
In 1994, Townsend was a co-founder of the American Association of
Electronic Reporters and Transcribers (AAERT). The Association,
now based in Wilmington, Delaware, remains very active in supporting the
growing profession of audio and video recording and transcription in
the court market. Townsend served as AAERT's vice-president during its
first two years, and chaired the association's legislative committee.
In 1995, Mr. Townsend joined FTR Limited, and in 1997, was named its CEO.
Between 1997 and 2007, FTR grew from a small software company based in
Perth, Western Australia, to the world's leading provider of digital
court recording solutions, with more than 16,000 systems installed in
more than 40 countries around the world. He was the driving force
behind the development of FTR's flagship product, FTR Gold, and FTR's
video recording solutions, TheRecord Reporter and TheRecord Player.
Suzanne H. Stinson is Court Administrator
for the 26th Judicial District Court of Bossier and Webster Parishes in
Benton, Louisiana, where she has been employed since 1982. Suzanne
graduated magna cum laude from Louisiana Tech University and has a
Master of Business Administration degree and a Master of Arts degree in
Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Louisiana Tech University. She
is a 2007 Graduate Fellow of the Institute for Court Management (ICM) of
the National Center for State Courts. She served in the Louisiana Army
National Guard from 1979 to 1982.
She serves as president-elect of the National Association for Court
Management, serves on the Board of Directors for the National Center
for State Courts (NCSC) and is past president of the Louisiana Court
Administrators Association. She was appointed by Louisiana Governor
Bobby Jindal to serve on the Board of Examiners of Certified Shorthand
Reporters. She is a member of the American Judicature Society, Forum
for Advancement of Court Technology, NCSC Knowledge and Information
Systems Advisory Committee and ICM Consortium Governing Committee.
Suzanne was appointed by the Louisiana Supreme Court to serve on the
State Court Rules Committee, Advisory Committee to the Performance
Audit on Jury Practices, Disaster Recovery Planning Committee and the
Louisiana Integrated Juvenile Justice Information System Committee. She
also currently serves on committees for the Bossier Parish Truancy
Assessment Center and the Coalition for Juvenile Justice.
Paul Royer has been involved in supply and
deployment of digital recording and transcription systems for courts and
hearing rooms over the last 14 years. Current position at FTR in the
capacity of Regional Sales Manager involves working with courts and
transcription organisations in Europe, The Middle East, African
and Asia. Past experience includes working in the US for two years
during the establishment of FTR in courts across the US.
Martin Gruen is the Deputy
Director of CLCT and the Courtroom 21 Project. CLTC and Courtroom 21,
housed in the McGlothlin Courtroom, the world's most technologically
advanced courtroom, is a joint experimental project of the William
and Mary School of Law and the National Center for State Courts. Since
the Project's conception, Mr. Gruen has directed, installed and
designed the technology systems within the courtroom.
He brings thirty years of experience providing court technology systems
to the legal community. Initially concentrating in the areas of sound
reinforcement and audio recording, Mr. Gruen has now emerged as a
national expert in court related high technology legal uses. As
founder and president of Applied Legal Technologies, Mr. Gruen designed
many of the nation's state-of-the-art court technology installations and
has served as a consultant to several major legal technology manufacturers.
Having helped give birth to CLCT and the Courtroom 21 Project, Mr. Gruen
has been in charge of the courtroom's ongoing technological growth and
development. According to Professor Fred Lederer, Chancellor Professor
of Law and Director of CLCT, "Martin Gruen is a truly extraordinary
courtroom designer and technologist. We would not have CLCT and the
Courtroom 21 Project without him and his creative work.
Margaret Morgan was elected President of
AAERT in June 2008. She served on the AAERT Board of Directors since
2005. In 2005 Margaret received the AAERT Reporter of the Year award.
Margaret has worked in the legal field since 1982. In 1994 she was hired
as an official electronic court reporter in the Third Judicial
District, Rochester, Minnesota. She currently works for The
Honorable Joseph F. Chase. Margaret represented electronic/digital
court reporters in drafting and negotiating their employment contract
with the State of Minnesota. In 1999 Margaret was involved in a group
of Minnesota E-Reporters who successfully petitioned the State of
Minnesota to equalize salary and benefits for all reporters, regardless of
the reporting method.
Neil Griffin is the managing director of
the Australian operation of Merrill Legal Solutions (MLS), a Merrill
Corporation company. Neil has been in the court reporting industry
for over 30 years and was the managing director of his own court
reporting company Court Recording Services Pty Ltd (CRS). CRS was
acquired by WordWave International in 2006, WordWave was then acquired
by Merrill Corporation.
By way of background, Neil was involved in what we believe to be the
world's first centralised digital recording and transcription facility
which was installed into the Court of Final Appeal, Supreme Courts,
District Courts and Magistrates Courts of Hong Kong in 1994/95.
Subsequently, all courts covered in Australia by MLS — over 170
per day — are digitally recorded.
Neil is the founding and current President of the Australasian Court
Reporting Industry Association (ACRIA) which represents
the digital/analogue audio recording and transcription part of the
Australian industry and Neil has been a member of AAERT for a number of
Great Lakes Regional Convention
— "Making Connections"
Schaumburg, Illinois, the Hyatt Regency Woodfield, was the site
for the Great Lakes Regional Convention held October 3 through 5, 2008 —
This was the first joint convention ever held between the Illinois Court
Reporters Association, the Indiana Court Reporters Association, the
Michigan Association of Professional Court Reporters, and the Wisconsin
Court Reporters Association. Over 400 professionals attended the
joint convention. This event was planned and designed to bring court
reporters from four states together. As a professional association,
AAERT, as well, is seriously concerned with making connections and
interacting with other court reporting associations, whatever the method
used. I attended as one of AAERT's Board members and as a member of the
Indiana Shorthand Reporters Association.
CONCURRENT SEMINAR PROGRAMS
LILLIAN MORSON — PUNCTUATION & GRAMMAR
All three days of the regional convention were packed with concurrent
seminar sessions. The choice was difficult but decisions had to be made
as to which sessions I would attend. Friday afternoon I walked into a
large room where the famed Lillian Morson, author and teacher, presented
her Punctuation Seminar. Ms. Morson used her "Morson's Punctuation Press"
and other handouts to help us brainstorm punctuation and grammar rules.
She provided worksheets with these amusing titles:
- Is It Verbatim, Verbose, or Verboten?
- Time Out for Nonwords
- Midnight in the Garden of Hyphens and Evil
- Unhappy in New York
- Happy Trails to You
It was time for a break and then more deep thinking, debating, ruminating,
and opinionating with Lillian about punctuation. I found her to be
instructive but also tremendously funny and entertaining. Don't miss her
yourself. She is on the program for AAERT's summer convention in
Indianapolis this year. What a delight!
IT'S EVERYTHING BUT AN ADVERTISEMENT
Saturday morning I chose to attend NCRA's marketing session presented by
Past President Kathy DiLorenzo. For a long time I had been looking
forward to attending NCRA's marketing seminar. Ms. DiLorenzo was an
energetic speaker. Her session counseled students and veteran
reporters alike on how to market their skills and manage their
businesses including everything from advertising to reporting skills
to appropriate dress. I found Ms. DiLorenzo to be very realistic as
well in acknowledging the impact that digital reporting is making on
the world in this century. The session was well worth attending.
REAL EVENTS, REAL EMOTIONS:
HOW TO DEAL WITH
This title caught my attention. It was a mouthful to pronounce but was
probably the best session I attended from the whole conference. Heidi
Thomas, who is a broadcast captioner among her other titles, calmly
presented information on how to assess your level of self-care.
Court reporters, transcribers, and captioners are constantly listening
to disturbing information, accounts, and testimony. We bear witness to
fellow humans' miseries, trauma, brutal experiences, accidents, and deaths.
As Court reporters, we often hear the testimony initially, then transcribe
it, and then proofread the same information subjecting ourselves to
disturbing information often three or more times just from one court
case. How does one deal with that? Ms. Thomas described how to recognize
the signs of vicarious traumatization — that is, daily listening to and
watching people suffer, how it affects us, and what to do about it.
Subsequently, we were divided up into focus groups of about six. Some of
us were reporters, transcribers, or captioners, consisting of stenos and
digital reporters alike. We shared our most disturbing cases with each
other. Some cried, some just listened, but all had ideas of how to cope
with being constantly bombarded by accounts of traumatic events.
Melanie Sonntag, CSR, RDR, CRR, FAPR, was also in my focus group at
this session, and I was honored to meet her. Ms. Sonntag is a NCRA
speed contest medalist who I have read about for years. She received
an award and medal at this very convention.
TOWN HALL SESSION WITH NCRA REPS
Lastly, Saturday I attended the NCRA Town Hall session, a
question-and-answer meeting with NCRA representatives on hand. Issues
discussed were gift giving by reporting firms to their clients, what
is ethical and what is not. Other questions presented were: What is
the biggest challenge facing your state now? What is the trend nationally
for membership? What is the practice for contracting in your state?
As one of the few digital reporters in attendance, I was happy to
interact with stenos and voice writers alike. They were able to meet
a real live digital reporter. Yet it was surprising to me to still
hear such terms as "tape" and "tape recorder" used to describe how we
make our record, since digital Court Reporters have been using digital
audio recording since at least 1993. Those terms are basically sunset
technology, just as analog television will soon be. One steno reporter
even expressed the fact that digital reporters can record on separate
channels and then listen to each voice on each channel and not miss a
word, something we have been doing for some 40 years. Food for
thought — as digital reporters, we still have a lot of educating
to do and myths to dispel.
MAKING MORE CONNECTIONS
"Connection" means the act of bringing two things into contact. The Great
Lakes Regional Convention brought me into contact with many steno
reporters, captioners, NCRA officials and members. Whatever our method of
reporting, our goal is to deliver an outstanding product, however we
produce it. The better we understand each other, the easier it is to work
together, falsehoods are corrected, and fears are laid to rest. We have
the same goals: education, certification, excellence.
This summer AAERT will hold its summer convention in Indianapolis, Indiana,
June 28 through 30, 2009. It is my genuine hope that our nationwide
membership will make connections there as well with their colleagues and
peers, and hopefully we will have some of Indiana's own digital and steno
reporters attending on their hometown court. Remember — join, train,
test, and excel. That's the key to your craft.
Gail Malm Armstrong, CERT
National Center For State Courts:
E-Courts Conference, Las Vegas
Left, Margaret Morgan, right, Kim McCright
represented AAERT in
In December 2008 Kim McCright and Margaret Morgan attended
the National Center for State Courts E-Courts Conference in Las Vegas.
If you ever have the opportunity to attend one of these conferences, we
highly recommend it.
Many digital recording companies demonstrated their latest courtroom
products. We were impressed with the enhancements made to already
outstanding systems. They are very user friendly and, as E-Reporters
and transcribers, we benefit from the improvements. Several of the
vendors will exhibit at our conference in Indianapolis, so you will have
the chance to see the latest products. Be sure to mark your calendars.
We think you will be pleased.
A frequent question we received from court managers concerned what happens
with the audio CDs when new software is implemented. Transcription
software remains available on company websites to access the audio
on "all of those CDs." Most often transcription software is available
as a free download from the company websites. Furthermore, newer
versions are often compatible with older versions. Much like the
Sony BM-147 that sits idle next to my computer for the occasional
analog recording, transcription software remains available.
The other frequent comment we received was "We have no money." Since
Margaret lives and works in Minnesota, she is familiar with the budget
issues facing Minnesota courts. While Margaret realizes that serious
economic issues are widespread, she was surprised at the enormity of
As a result of budget issues, courts may install digital reporting
systems to handle increasing demands. Central reporting will likely
become more common. As E-Reporters, it is vital that we continue to
increase our knowledge of the latest technology and remain proactive
with our court managers and administrators to provide input when
digital reporting systems are being considered. Who better than the
court reporter, the guardian of the record, to contribute in areas
concerning the record? By being proactive and working with court
managers and administrators, the transition to digital reporting
systems can be organized and trouble free.
While the best practice is a court reporter in every courtroom and
hearing room, the reality is there are demands on the court system that
may make that impossible. However, with appropriate staffing, training,
and certification, there are other viable alternatives. It is our duty
as E-Reporters and transcribers to be the experts in the operation of
digital reporting systems. Kim and I took every opportunity to
share AAERT's message and found our listeners to be very receptive.
This is a very important time for our industry and AAERT. As budget
constraints continue to affect the courts, digital reporting systems
will be looked to as a critical component for capturing and preserving
an accurate and verifiable record. We are the perfect individuals to
educate our courts on the benefits of digital reporting. If you have
not made plans to attend AAERT 2009 in Indianapolis , please take a
look at the agenda posted on the website and make your reservations.
— Kim McCright, CET**D
— Margaret Morgan, CERT
Florida Circuit Judges Conference
DECEMBER 2008 MEETING — JACKSONVILLE
Patty Drummond, CERT, and Gillian Lawrence, CERT, represented
AAERT at the Florida Circuit Judges Conference in December 2008 in
Jacksonville. There were 450 circuit judges in attendance from
across the state.
Discussions at our booth focused on educating judges and court staff
on the importance of AAERT certification for all of Florida's digital
The AAERT Board of Directors held its January 2009 meeting in
Indianapolis at the location of its annual conference. After reading
Conference Chair Gail Armstrong's article about our 2009 Conference,
I am very excited to visit her home State of Indiana this June. And
I'm sure you will be as equally pleased to attend our Conference in the
heart of this bustling metropolitan area.
Our membership continues to rise. More electronic/digital reporters and
transcribers achieve AAERT certification every year. The use of digital
reporting is increasing dramatically. AAERT is the only association with
the knowledge and expertise to properly certify electronic/digital
reporters and transcribers. NVRA is the only association with the knowledge
and expertise to properly certify voice writers. NCRA is the only
association with the knowledge and expertise to properly certify
stenographic reporters. Our associations are comprised of members who are
committed to the same goal — accurately capturing the spoken word and
producing an accurate verbatim transcript. The method by which this is
accomplished is different, but that's the only difference.
Our January meeting was a productive one, and we covered a number of topics:
Board members in Indianapolis, left to right: Karen Bergstrom,
Gail Malm Armstrong, Sherry Simmons, Margaret Morgan.
Advisory Board. The Advisory Board is established, and held its first
meeting. It is an impressive group of industry professionals who have
agreed to explore topics related to electronic/digital court reporting
and provide information to AAERT. Some areas being considered
include: strategic planning, work force development, and technology.
We are extremely fortunate these knowledgeable professionals are willing
to provide suggestions to AAERT. For more about the Advisory Board
committee members, see the biographical information in this issue.
Committees. The Board formed new committees to review
membership growth, marketing, awards, and board member nominations.
As you know, AAERT functions predominantly by volunteers. We have the
good fortune of bright and innovative individuals committed to AAERT
and electronic reporting and transcribing. We would not be here without
them. If you wish to participate in committee work and have input in
your Association, contact Executive Director Sherry Simmons at
majority of the committee work is conducted by email, conference calls, or
a meeting scheduled around the annual conference.
Annual Conference. Gail Armstrong is busy
planning our June convention. It is going to be another exciting meeting
this year. Watch the website for further details.
After the Board meeting I returned to my room and reflected on our
discussions of the day. At times I forget how E-Reporting has changed
in the 15 years I have worked as a court reporter in the Minnesota
After attending these meetings, AAERT conferences, or
industry trade shows, I am reminded that E-Reporting is always
changing. Technology advancements occur every day. Digital reporting
systems improve every day. While it is easy to get comfortable with
one program, it is our job as E-Reporters to be diligent in educating
ourselves so that we continue to move forward with technology
advancements and not get stuck in one system, one program, or one
method. If I do nothing else during my term as president of AAERT,
it is to express the importance of staying current on technology
changes, move forward with those changes, explore alternatives, and
remain open minded. Instead of fighting change, devote time and
energy on preserving the court reporting profession, and capturing
and preserving an accurate and verifiable record using the best means
available be it on paper, on disk, on CD, or what is yet to come.
There are many ways to stay informed of developments:— participate in
webinars offered by digital reporting companies; attend conferences
and trade shows; visit industry related websites such as the National
Center for State Courts; read industry publications
like Courts Today; become more involved locally and through
AAERT. In addition to the educational seminars, AAERT conferences
connect reporters and transcribers from around the country and members
get the chance to see the latest products firsthand from vendors. If
you are not already certified, become AAERT certified.
When thinking of technology changes, I think about that new TV in my
family room at home. The old TV is still good. It works great.
However, it is now in the guest bedroom. The wide-screen,
high-definition TV with all of the latest technology that makes watching
TV so much more exciting is in the family room for us to enjoy the
benefits of it every day.
Given the poor economic issues facing the courts (and our country), there
will be increasing demands on digital reporters and transcribers. It
is essential that we educate ourselves and be proactive with our
employers and the legislature. When individuals who do not rely on
the record are making decisions about the record, it can mean
trouble. Be proactive when issues regarding the record are
being discussed, offer your valuable input, and eliminate potential
Attend the AAERT 2009 Conference in Indianapolis to start up your
engines or "rev up" your education. I hope to see you there.
Margaret Ann Morgan, CERT
Certified Electronic Court Reporter
Certified Electronic Court Transcriber
Nomination period concludes March 6, 2009.
Award recipients will be notified prior to April 1, 2009, and each will
• A one-year general AAERT membership;
• Hotel accommodation and registration during our
16th Annual Conference;
• Award presentation at Conference Banquet; and
• Special recognition in The Court Reporter and on our website.
An award recipient must attend in person to accept the presentation.
A nominee must be a member in good standing, hold a current AAERT
certification in the field of nomination, and cannot be a current officer
or member of AAERT's Board of Directors.
How to nominate: Write or e-mail, submitting the following
• Name, address, phone, and e-mail address for both yourself and the nominee;
• Indicate whether the nominee is an electronic reporter or transcriber;
• A statement why you believe the nominee deserves the award, highlighting experience and professional achievements.
Send nomination to:
Gail Armstrong, Vice-President
AAERT Awards Committee Chair
2900 Fairhope Road
Wilmington, Delaware 19810-1624
Bill Wagner concludes final term as AAERT's Treasurer
William E. Wagner (just "Bill" to most of us) officially retired from
AAERT as Executive Director in June of 2008. He continued as Treasurer
through December in order to make the transition of duties as seamless as
Bill has truly been a stabilizing element in our
leadership since the Association's inception. His attention to detail
and vast knowledge of everything important has kept AAERT on track for
many years. He is a true gentleman, and his input and hard work in
every corner of this Association will produce fruit for many years.
Bill's words of wisdom will always benefit AAERT because,
through quiet and consistent mentoring of today's leadership, he will
affect generations of leadership yet to come.
On behalf of the
Association, the Board of Directors would like to thank him for
his immense contribution to our membership and our profession.
A prior article in The Court Reporter recapped Bill's long career,
which you can review
ask the pros . . .
• Dear Pros,
In a murder case I'm reporting, after all the preliminary motions, in trial
when the defendant takes the stand he says his name is Randy Lee Royal
Swaney. Everything in the file has his middle name as
Leeroyal. When his attorney specifically asked if the middle
name was two words, he said, "Yes." So far, I've typed it as two words in
the transcript because he said so.
Do you think that will become an issue with anyone, or would you type it as
it appears in the file documents? I just noticed that the court
administrator didn't change it on MNCIS, our state reporting software, which
is why I'm wondering.
The Pros reply,
We would type it in testimony / text as two words, for the same reason you
have done so — he surely knows his own name. However, on the
title page, in the style of the case only, we would leave it
the way MNCIS shows it, until it is changed in your system.
The title page is critical in
filing and archiving, so it should conform to the court's documents.
• Dear Pros,
A witness says her baby daughter's name is Anika,
which could also be Aneka.
She left before I could ask about that. Should I use (phonetic)?
I really hate to try getting in touch with her, and nobody else would know.
The Pros reply,
You're right to be leery about contacting a witness, and we would never
recommend that — the party's attorney, perhaps. But in this simple
case, we suggest Googling both Anika and Aneka to see if one
form is vastly more common than the other. Having done so, we found
2.3 million "hits" for Anika, but a whopping 8.5 million for
Aneka. So if you choose to use Aneka, at least you'll be
on the majority side. If adding (phonetic) increases your
comfort level, do so.
— Randel Raison, CET**D
— Mary D. Henry, CET**D
— Laurel H. Stoddard, CET
NOTE: This column is general and informational in nature,
and answers are not intended to constitute legal advice.
Always follow the rules of your own jurisdiction.
The Nature of Words
W hile proofreading a transcript in which one witness enjoyed using
the word auspice repeatedly, I began to ponder the word's antecedents.
Although the primary definition of auspice is
patronage, support, or
sponsorship, its origins are the Latin auspicium, divination
from a flight of birds. I guess we could say, then, that an
auspicious occasion is one in which we have our ducks all in a row.
Another bird-y word is canard, a false, fabricated,
or absurd report,
a story that is deliberately misleading. The American Heritage
Dictionary suggests that the usage comes from the French phrase
vendre un canard moitié, to sell half a duck, or to
In the world of aircraft, a canard wing is a fixed-wing configuration
in which the horizontal components of the tail precede the main wing
on the fuselage rather than the typical tail assembly or empennage,
from the French, literally feathering, from empenn(er),
to feather an arrow, by way of the Latin penna, feather.
A columbarium, a vault with niches for urns which
hold the ashes of the dead, is directly from the Latin columbarium,
a sepulchre for urns, or a dovecote, from columba,
Maybe I should have warned you that this column was for the birds!
Laurel H. Stoddard, CET
On The Record Reporting & Transcription, Inc. (Austin, Texas)
16th Annual E-Reporting
and Transcribing Conference
28 - 30 June 2009
Hyatt Regency Indianapolis
One South Capitol Avenue
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204
AAERT, as an association and by its Board of Directors, is elated to
announce our 16th Annual Conference will be
held June 28 through 30, 2009.
(See our Conference webpages.)
Overlooking the grand Indiana Statehouse,
the Hyatt Regency Indianapolis on South Capitol Avenue will be the
location of the conference. A beautiful structure to behold in its own
right especially on a Hoosier summer evening, the Indiana Statehouse was
completed in 1878 and built in Italian Renaissance style using Indiana
oak and limestone throughout the building. The Statehouse is open during
business hours on weekdays. Go to the tour desk for a guided tour. You
may view the manuscript original of the State Constitution in the
Your AAERT Board of Directors met on a bitterly cold January weekend at
the Hyatt Regency to make further arrangements for the annual conference
and to inspect the hotel facilities. We cruised the halls and meeting
rooms, slept in the beds, ate in the restaurants, and walked about the
city. We believe the setting is most appropriate for a learning conference
designed specifically for digital reporters and transcribers, a field that
is exploding worldwide.
WHAT TO ANTICIPATE
SUNDAY, JUNE 28
Certification exams for reporters and transcribers will be held on
Sunday, June 28, at the conference site. If you have not done so
yet, order your Study Guide from the Association's website, study
rigorously, register for the examinations, and come prepared to pass
the them! Combining the test with the conference is
prudent in these harsh economic times. It can mean one trip, one stay,
and one incredible conference. Sunday night will feature our welcoming
reception, a chance to mingle, meet your fellow members, and laugh.
MONDAY, JUNE 29
Monday morning will include an introduction to the city of Indianapolis,
what to see, how to get there. Opening as a class act, Senior Judge
Bruce E. Embrey will serve as our keynote speaker. Judge Embrey will
travel from Miami County, Indiana once known as the "Circus Capital
of America." Judge Embrey still serves as a Ringmaster for the Peru,
Indiana circus. Judge Embrey has been an innovator of courtroom reform
Exhibiters will be introduced during the morning session which will give
attendees familiarity with who they are and what they bring to the
industry. As a first this year, extra time will be allotted so that
attendees can unhurriedly visit all our exhibiters both on Monday and
Tuesday of the conference.
The show must go on, though. Two of Indiana's finest law enforcement
officers will team up to guide us through the dangers and security risks
we may or may not realize we face in our neighborhoods and on the job.
Indiana State Police Detective Robert Burgess, who I consider "the meth
man," will give a skillful presentation. So you thought you knew
everything there was to know about illegal drugs? Maybe not. Following,
veteran Detective Catherine L. Collins, Logansport Police Department's
first female officer, will give insight as to how to protect your children
and yourself from predators. You will not want to miss her session.
Monday afternoon it is with great anticipation that we have assigned
author and teacher Lillian I. Morson a solid block of time. Come with
rapt attention and your brain fully fueled to ponder complex issues of
grammar and punctuation. Ms. Morson will entertain questions as well.
AAERT will then hold its business meeting for members only, along with
receiving reports from the States and fielding questions. You do not
want to miss this session as our newly formed Advisory Board will be
introduced. This is the start of something big — no, not just big, but
grand in scope and direction for AAERT in the future.
TUESDAY, JUNE 29
Due to the fact they were so popular and participants asked for more,
Tuesday morning we have planned breakout sessions for Word and WordPerfect
users. Bring your laptops please. Karon Etienne and our own Randel Raison
will present these sessions respectively.
Please submit questions ahead of time — relating to
Microsoft Word to Margaret Morgan, or relating
to WordPerfect to Randel Raison.
David B. Tetrick, NICS Liaison Specialist intends to speak about "Firearms
and Court Transcripts: The Vital Link to Public Safety." His
presentation will demonstrate how vital transcripts are to ensuring
public safety at the local, state, and national levels. Come and see
how critical all those pages you labor over day and night really are
to public safety. Mr. Tetrick has been employed with the FBI since
1997 and worked with the National Instant Criminal Background Check
System (NICS) Section since 1998.
Recharge your mind with a short break and then be prepared to hear
Santo J. Aurelio, Ed.D. Doctor Aurelio teaches medicolegal terminology
and English grammar. He has authored Say it and Write It Correctly and
will provide guidance for improving our language skills.
Finally, to our great delight, Petti Redding, OTR, will give us pain
— that is, what could be causing your pain. Is it your office equipment
or you? Now don't leave early before this afternoon session is finished
or you will miss one of the liveliest presenters of the conference.
Ms. Redding is energetic, humorous, and practical in her advice as to
how to prevent repetitive stress and work-related injuries. Our session
will end early enough in the afternoon to give you sufficient time to
rest, shop, or do some touring of the city. You will earn CEUs for all
AH, BEST OF ALL!
Tuesday evening will bring our social hour and then the AAERT annual
banquet. As a first, this year we will have live music before and
during the dinner hour. Peter and Sara Walthery will perform a
repertoire of traditional Gaelic and British-American folk music on the
Celtic harp and dulcimer. I must admit, their music is heavenly and
soothing, exactly what frazzled reporters and transcribers who experience
a daily dose of stress need. Presentations will be made to the
Reporter and Transcriber of the Year.
We will enjoy a gourmet meal together as well as interact with our
WHAT CAN INDIANAPOLIS OFFER YOU?
Indianapolis in the summer is balmy, beautiful, and blooming. The Hyatt
is a few blocks from Monument Circle, the heart of downtown. During the
summer the fountains at the neoclassical limestone and bronze Soliders'
and Sailors' Monument will be flowing. You must walk there and see the
spitting bison, the carved reliefs, and the aqua pools of water. Gaze up
into the faces preserved in limestone for eternity, Hoosier men and women
who struggled, lived, and died on this soil. The observation level is 330
steps up or take the elevator to step number 290. The monument is a
significant landmark, meeting place, and lunch site for downtown workers
especially when the weather is excellent.
The Indianapolis Zoo is located a few blocks away from the Hyatt
Regency. Look to
Indianapolis Zoo for more information.
If you would like to take a slow and novel tour of Indianapolis day or night,
Yellow Rose Carriage Tours. Their devoted horses have been
clip-clopping the streets of Indianapolis for many years,
and their website will give you the details. Now what could be
more unique than that?
There are a multitude of restaurants in the downtown area including
Harry and Izzy's, St. Elmo's, Alcatraz Brewing Company, and if you
really want an interesting experience, go to the top of the Hyatt
Regency and have dinner at night in the Eagle's Nest. Take a relaxing
glide in this revolving restaurant which has been voted "The Most
Romantic Restaurant in Indianapolis." You will enjoy a spectacular
view of the Statehouse as well as all the glittering panorama
Indianapolis offers at night.
Circle Centre Mall is attached to the Hyatt by an indoor skywalk.
If you get tired of shopping, stroll through the glass-enclosed
Artsgarden over Washington and Illinois streets, where it is common to
observe free musical performances. Walk around the outside of the mall
and notice the historic facades that enclose so many downtown
buildings of yesteryear.
IS IT WORTH THE COST TO ATTEND?
With the economic environment we live in at the present, does it make
sense to spend your hard-earned money to attend this year's AAERT
conference? I say yes, for these reasons: Indianapolis is a family-friendly
city that is easy to access and navigate. Oh, and you must see the new
airport! The new Indianapolis Airport features a variety of stunning
artwork, ranging from shimmering glass walls, murals in glass and
mosaic, to colorful designs created in terrazzo flooring.
Artists selected to produce the artwork bring a wide variety of
cultural backgrounds, artistic media, and international experience
with public art to the project. On a pragmatic level though,
Indianapolis is an international airport with flights available from
If you are looking to combine a family vacation with earning your CEUs,
learning something new, sharpening your skills, and networking with
other professionals, this conference as well as its location makes prudent
economic sense. There are a multitude of delightfully unique attractions
close at hand your family would enjoy that are free or available for a
reasonable cost. Admission to the Indianapolis Museum of Art is without
HOW TO GET MESHING LIKE A BRABUS
E V12 BITURBO ENGINE!
There is undeniable and palpable excitement as digital recording
installations and applications expand on a global scale. The need for
certified digital reporters and transcribers is phenomenal and
increasing daily. In order to meet the challenge of the rapidly
growing field of digital reporting and transcribing, you must take
the initiative to educate, train, and certify yourself as well as
recruit future reporters and transcribers to join us. AAERT alone
offers the only nationally-recognized certification program and testing
for digital reporters and transcribers and has done so since 1996.
Let me close with an appropriate Hoosier analogy. Indianapolis is also
the location of the famed Indianapolis 500 often called "The Greatest
Spectacle in Racing." The Indianapolis Motor Speedway was built in
1909 as a gravel and tar track much as AAERT began as a kitchen table
concept. Race terminology reminds me of AAERT, our journey thus far,
and where our course will take us in the future.
Pit crews are a critical part of the race. They service, make adjustments,
and even effect major repairs to the cars in seconds. The routine stop
for an IndyCar team lasts between ten and fourteen seconds. Crews must
have a pit strategy including a crack team that anticipates and addresses
any challenge that arises as the car races.
"Drafting" is when two or more cars run close behind each other, nearly
touching. A car will use drafting to gain speed and then use the
momentum to pass the car ahead of it. This is a major strategy in all races.
Steep banking of the track allows the cars to maintain speed throughout
the turns, another challenge to the drivers. AAERT utilizes all these
concepts. Remember who we are, what we do, and how we do it. I would
ardently add this thought. Call us ER, electronic reporters, courtroom
monitors, DR or digital reporters but with our technology and skills we
offer our courts and clients no speed limit, no speech limit, and
whatever speed they need.
Henry Ford, who was an early sponsor of the Indianapolis 500, once said,
"Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working
together is success."
AAERT has come together. AAERT has envisioned the goals. AAERT has made
unmistakable progress. AAERT will continue to accelerate in our
advancement. All of you can share in our success. Come to Indy this
summer. Meet me in victory lane!
— Gail Malm Armstrong, CERT
Register to Attend with us!
Indianapolis Hyatt Regency, AAERT page
Yellow Rose Carriage Tours
White River Park
Indianapolis Museum of Art
Circle Centre Mall
Indianapolis Childrens Museum
Basey's Downtown, near the hotel
The current economic situation is disconcerting at best and
frightening at worst. I'm sure many of you have been affected one way
or another in your personal life and in your business or work life.
In recent years many courts have looked to E-Reporting as a way to shave the
cost of court reporting services. In your state maybe the current
economic climate has accelerated a switch to providing court reporting
coverage using digital court recording technology? Or perhaps there
have been negative impacts on E-Reporting in your area because of budget
cuts. I have had an opportunity to speak with a few of you regarding the
courts you work with and your various states' policies and procedures as
they relate to our systems. The AAERT Board has tasked the Government
Relations Committee with providing a state-by-state report on the status
of E-Reporting across the nation. Besides our dialogues with the Court
Administration offices across the country, we want to be sure to take
into account the opinions and experiences of those working in and for
various courts across this country.
Please take a few moments to support this important research endeavor.
Email me and let us know what your state is doing with E-Reporting.
This is one way you can volunteer time to support your Association.
- If you know there is a variety of court reporting and/or digital
court recording services across your State, please be sure to let us know
that. Please give us contact information for areas of your state
where different solutions are provided than within your own jurisdiction.
- Is E-Reporting operating solely in digital or has there been a slower
- Have any task forces been created in your district related to
E-Reporting versus the stenographic means of capturing the record?
Please email me at
with your state or jurisdiction's story. Your opinions and observations
are integral to the success of this important research survey.
Wishing you all a prosperous 2009,
Kim McCright, CET**D
Government Relations Chair
Volunteers Welcome / Open Board Positions
AAERT is a volunteer association with a volunteer Board. We need you!
Please contact Executive Director Sherry Simmons to let us know how you
would like to be involved. She will point you in the right direction.
A couple of "man hours" a month from every member could be the greatest
single asset the Association has!
Three Board positions to be filled in June
At June's Annual Meeting of Members in Indianapolis three Board positions
will be filled by election. If you are interested in
submitting a nomination for a Board position, please send a letter of
recommendation for your nominee to our Executive Director Sherry
Please note, a nominee must be a member in good standing and be
Board members in Indianapolis, left to right:
Margaret Morgan, Gail Malm Armstrong, Gillian Lawrence,
Sherry Simmons, Karen Bergstrom, Randel Raison.
These Board positions will become open in June:
- Sherry Simmons will have completed two years of her second
three-year term. She will resign as a Board member, but will
continue to serve AAERT in the capacity of Executive Director.
- Gillian Lawrence will complete her second three-year term and will
not be running for re-election.
- Margaret Morgan was appointed to serve the third year of an open
Board position and then was re-elected to serve a three-year term. That
term concludes in June, and Margaret will run for re-election.
Members who do not wish to appear in on-line
listings are shown with initials only:
Paula M. Brokaw, Pennsylvania
R.D., New York
Lucila Davis, Colorado
Carrie Sue Dunn, Michigan
Michelle M. Durity, Connecticut
John W. Frail, Pennsylvania
Stephen L. Grant, Delaware
Peter Higgins, Massachusetts
Teri Hills, Tennessee
Sherri L. Jolley, Ohio
Esther Krutzel, New Jersey
Linda Sue Lane, Michigan
Barbara A. LeCaptain, Wisconsin
Michele Lilley, Arizona
C.L.M., New Jersey
Kelly Ann Moore, Iowa
Cori M. Monson, Iowa
Sandra K. Murphy, Montana
Margaret P. Nelson, Maryland
Irene Powers, Pennsylvania
Sharolyn Stark-Bornholdt, Kansas
Suzanne Williams, Utah
Kerry A. Xhaferi, Arizona
Contact the Editor
The Court Reporter is published by
The American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers, Inc.
All rights are reserved, whether in electronic or print modalities. © 2009.
Margaret Ann Morgan, CERT, President
AAERT / 2900 Fairhope Road / Wilmington, Delaware 19810-1624.
AAERT AAERT AAERT AAERT AAERT AAERT