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For Professionals in
Electronic / Digital Court Technology
Volume 15, Number 1 — Spring 2010
. . .
AAERT At Sea, 2010:
New Jersey law
benefits transcription firms
On January 16, 2010, Acting Governor Stephen Sweeney signed into law
Senate Bill S-825, thus ending more than two years of uneasiness among
New Jersey transcription firms. The new provision places an exemption
in the state's unemployment law for the professions of Legal Transcribers
and Certified Court Reporters when those individuals are paid on a per page
or per diem basis. The statute was further amended to make proof
of a federal unemployment exemption unnecessary.
In the summer of 2008, the New Jersey Department of Labor began auditing
legal transcription companies with the goal of reclassifying independent
contractors as employees. Using vague case law and the ambiguous
"New Jersey ABC Test" (an abbreviated version of the "IRS 20 questions"),
transcription firms were assessed penalties and interest over a
four-year look-back period — and that amounted to more than $20,000
for some firms.
Because of this financial burden, a meeting was arranged at the request
of the transcription firms. The November 2008 meeting included
attendees from the judiciary, Department of Labor, Department of Commerce,
and owners of two transcription firms.
We made strong arguments during this meeting that the transcription
company / legal transcriber relationship is a clearly defined,
long-standing relationship in the court reporting industry. We
further argued that reclassifying these individuals as employees would
increase expenses by as much as 15 to 20 percent. With the New
Jersey page rate governed by statute, these new expenses would be onerous
enough to force transcription firms out of business. This last
argument enabled us to gain the support of the judiciary in this battle.
Although not convinced by our arguments, the Department of Labor
suggested we should work to amend the New Jersey statute governing
unemployment exemptions. The transcription firms pooled their
resources and contracted with a lobbying firm to begin the political
process of amending the statute.
Our representative began organizing meetings between myself and Labor
Committee members in both the Senate and the Assembly. The legislators
quickly understood our concerns and voiced support for our
legislation. We first found success in the Senate, despite
persistent opposition from the Department of Labor (yes, the very people
who suggested we take this route!). In May 2009, the Senate Labor
Committee approved our bill by a vote of 6 to 0, followed the next month
by a 32 to 2 vote before the full Senate.
With a governor's race in full swing, the legislature took a hiatus from
July to mid-November. We were running out of time, as New Jersey's
two-year session would end in early January. Having cleared one
chamber of the legislature put us in a good position for the post-election,
lame duck session. Our break came during the first week of January,
when our bill was posted to the Assembly Labor Committee agenda on the
last scheduled day of its meetings. The bill passed by a vote
of 9 to 0 in committee and, three days later, by a vote of 76 to 0 in the
Needless to say, a great burden has been lifted off the shoulders of
New Jersey transcription firms. And it is also encouraging to know
that members of the electronic reporting industry can have a beneficial
impact on the legislative process.
James V. Bowen, CER
J & J Court Transcribers, Hamilton, New Jersey
We're off to a great start in 2010! Your Board of Directors held
its mid-year meeting the weekend of January 16-17, 2010 in Tampa, Florida.
Many important industry-specific topics were discussed, and in particular
the hopeful June rollout of a series of electronic training video tools
designed to further educate our membership on the many facets of the
electronic method of taking and producing a record.
The membership asked and AAERT listened. AAERT has been working diligently
to develop new opportunities for professional development and training.
During our 2010 Conference, you will be the first to see new training
materials as well as engage in discussion about meaningful topic areas.
The program will be hosted by AAERT Directors Kenneth Kelemen and
Christopher Boone, and Certification Chair Tina Schaeffer.
COSCA examines Electronic Reporting
The Conference of State Court Administrators recently published its
in-depth study titled "Digital Recording: Changing Times for Making the
Record." COSCA recommended that state courts should move to digital
recording as the method for making the verbatim record, should develop a
comprehensive, strategic plan for digital recording, implement the
technology as a method of making the verbatim record, and adopt functional
and technical standards to provide guidance, support, and service to
judges, attorneys, reporters and recorders, transcriptionists, court
staff, and the public.
The release of this report is a monumental leap
forward for AAERT because the courts' struggle to produce transcripts in a
timely manner has surpassed the critical stage, and now more and more
sources are recognizing the value of digital recording as the "judicial
future." Significantly, the report notes ". . . electronic
recording in the courtroom is not only here to stay, but likely to continue
to grow so long as budget constraints plague our legal system." Stay tuned
as your Board of Directors moves forward to offer the training and education
needed to fulfill the ever changing needs of our court system.
A Canadian member has reached out to the Board, hoping to encourage
communication and interaction between AAERT and Canada's Ministry of the
Attorney General's "Court Reporting Review Committee." The Committee is
tasked with developing a model for digital court reporters and transcribers
and to set higher standards for training and certification of electronic
reporters and transcribers in Canada.
The nomination period for suggesting our 2010 Reporter of the Year and
Transcriber of the Year is open until Monday, March 8, 2010. A nominee
must be a member in good standing, hold a current AAERT certification
in the field of nomination, and cannot be a current member of AAERT's
Board of Directors. To nominate a reporter or transcriber, please include
the name, address, phone, and e-mail address for both yourself and the
nominee; indicate whether the nominee is an electronic reporter or
transcriber; nominee's certification number, years of experience in the
industry, and primary work location; a statement why the nominee deserves
the award, highlighting professional achievements.
have four Director openings on the Board this year. Nominations
should be sent to Margaret Morgan, Board Nominations Committee Chair,
A general election by the membership will be conducted at our Annual
Conference on Friday, June 25, 2010.
Our "Ask the Experts" column is designed to answer your frequently asked
questions. Submit your questions to
and you might see your question answered and published in our newsletter!
AAERT at Sea — Conference 2010
Before you know it, AAERT at Sea 2010 will be upon us. Cabin availability
is quickly disappearing and soon the event will be completely closed.
March 10th marks the extended cruise reservation deadline (for your $150
per-person refundable deposit). Please take a few minutes to
register for the AAERT at Sea 2010 Conference
as soon as possible by visiting our registration page
or by calling Shelley Carey toll-free at 1-866-433-8249.
The AAERT at Sea 2010 Conference is a great
way to earn continuing education units, network with the membership, and
certainly to enjoy the luxury of a cruise ship. Please remember that
you must also register with AAERT in addition to reserving your cabin on
In May, The Court Reporter will give notice of our Annual
Business Meeting, with candidates for Board positions and related
information. In the meantime, best wishes!
Randel Raison, CET
Virginia Niswonger, CERT*D
1942 - 2009
Diane S. Hebel
1943 - 2010
A picture — or a recording!
— is worth a thousand words
A recent state professional disciplinary hearing included this
exchange on the electronically captured record (emphases added):
Q. You formed no opinion regarding her
credibility, or did you?
A. No, because I wasn't there. I did read her
deposition testimony, but that's
not the same as seeing or hearing her testify.
The International Network to
Promote the Rule of Law
"Court Proceedings: Transitioning to Automated Court Recordings"
— INPROL Consolidated Response 09-004 (20 pages; be patient!)
Impact of budget proposals on state agencies — courts
Des Moines Register.com, 28 Jan 2010
"The court is also studying digital audio recording
in lieu of court reporters as a way to save money."
2010 State of the Judiciary, Iowa, Des Moines Register
Five Tech Themes for 2010
NYTimes.com, 1 Jan 2010
The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago,
despite decreased funding, gives priority to
"further implementation of the use of digital court
recording systems to improve the pace of court trials."
www.ttlawcourts.org, Annual Report, 2010 — (a large PDF; be patient!)
quickly find state, federal, and patent law references.
Florida's 18th Circuit — Brevard County
Digital recording software will replace Stenographic court reporters
in all proceedings, except felony trials and capital case hearings.
www.FloridaToday.com, 4 February 2010
ask the experts . . .
• Dear Experts,
Many times when I'm transcribing with log notes, there may be an occurrence
in the recording where street names or businesses are used but not added to
the log notes. In an attempt to maintain the integrity of the record,
what are the most effective and efficient ways of finding out this
information? I have also run into this problem as it pertains to
attorney names that may not have been included in the notes. Are there
any resources available to find this information quickly?
— Paula D. Culp (North Carolina)
The experts reply,
There are many resources available to transcribers that make it easier to
find this information. One resource is using Google Earth.
Simply plugging in the street name, city, and state into Google Earth really
helps. Also, each state should have a bar association website and a
directory of attorneys who are members of the bar. This can help
maintain accuracy with names that can be spelled differently, but sound the
same, such as Browne or Brown.
NOTE: Replies are general and informational in nature,
and opinions are not intended to provide legal advice.
Always follow the rules of your own jurisdiction.
The Nature of Words
Recently while wandering through the forest of words that is the dictionary,
I discovered the explanation for the common name of a type of oak that
grows both in Texas and regions farther north. Several species of
the genus Quercus are called pin oaks; all have
deeply lobed or pinnatifid leaves, leaves so deeply lobed
they could be said to resemble a feather, from the Latin pinna.
To be considered pinnatifid, the notches in the leaves must extend halfway
to the midrib.
The writing instrument derived from a quill, a pen, is
another cousin of the word, as is a slender triangular flag called
a pennon. A diminutive version of a pennon, such as would
adorn a lance, is a pencel, from Old French penoncel.
Because of the diagonally cut ends of the small tubes, penne pasta
also resembles quills or feathers; the Italian is penna.
In nautical terms a pennant, also from pinna, is similarly
known as a pendant (or pendent), derived from the Latin
pendere, to hang or be suspended. A term one might encounter
in transcription is pendente lite, which means
"pending the litigation" or the "pendency of the case." Pendulous
and pendulum are from the same root.
Another set of "pen" words, but with a different derivation,
are penal and penalty, by way of
the Middle English penalte, from the Latin poenalis. A
subpoena, literally "under pain," from the Latin
sub plus poena, ensures that a person will appear in court as
requested or suffer a penalty.
Laurel H. Stoddard, CET
On The Record Reporting & Transcription, Inc. (Austin, Texas)
Our original Constitution, as proposed in 1787, faced considerable
opposition, based not so much on what was included, as on what was
The document lacked something that the English had already
enjoyed for a full century — an outline of specific individual rights,
privileges, and immunities permanently guaranteed to all.
To make the new Constitution more palatable, its framers promised that
the very first Congress would submit a package of appropriate amendments
for the states to consider. But even with that agreement in hand,
ratification was barely achieved.
The first ten Amendments are collectively known as
"the Bill of Rights."
The entire set contains, incredibly, a mere 482 words.
How familiar are you with this crucial element in our system of governance?
Click here for a self-scoring
quiz, and find out!
To read the full text of these Amendments, click here
— courtesy, James Madison University.
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.
With a couple of "man hours" a month from every member, this Association
would be unstoppable!
At the June 2010 Annual Meeting of Members
four Board positions will be filled by election.
Letters of recommendation
for Board nominees should be sent to Margaret Morgan, Board
Nominations Committee Chair, at
These Board positions will become open in June:
- Ken Kelemen was elected to fill the remaining term of a
previous Board member.
He will be running for re-election.
- Janet Harris was appointed to fill the remaining term of
a previous Board member.
She will be running for re-election.
- Gail Malm Armstrong will complete her term in June and
will not run for re-election.
- Luis Gomez will complete his term in June and
will not run for re-election.
2010 - 2011
Committees and Governance:
For further information, see
Randel Raison, President
Karen Bergstrom, Vice-President
Lynn Gilstrap, Secretary
James Bowen, Treasurer
Sherry Simmons, Executive Director
Assistant Executive Director
Steve Simon, Chair
incoming Chair, April 2010
James Bowen, Chair
Randel Raison, Co-Chair
Margaret Morgan, Co-Chair
The Court Reporter
Gillian Lawrence, Chair
Randel Raison, Board Liaison
Kenneth Kelemen, Chair
Mentoring Task Force
Gail Malm Armstrong
Planning Task Force
Janet Harris, Chair
Karen Bergstrom, Chair
Gail Malm Armstrong
Margaret Morgan, Chair
Certified Electronic Court Reporter
Certified Electronic Court Transcriber
Nomination period concludes Monday, March 8, 2010.
Award recipients will be notified prior to April 1, 2010, and each
A one-year general AAERT membership,
Accommodation and registration during our 17th Annual Conference
cruise, departure port Tampa, Florida, June 24 - 28, 2010,
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 member of AAERT's Board of Directors.
How to nominate: Write to submit the following information:
- Name, address, phone, and e-mail address for both yourself and the nominee;
- Indicate whether the nominee is an electronic reporter or transcriber;
- Nominee's certification number, years of experience in the industry, and primary work location;
- A statement why the nominee deserves the award, highlighting professional achievements.
Send nomination to:
2900 Fairhope Road
Wilmington, Delaware 19810-1624
Newly Certified Members
at AAERT's examinations since the last issue of The Court Reporter:
Congratulations and our very best wishes to these candidates
who earned their initial or obtained upgraded certifications!
Cynthia L. Adkins, CET**D
Maria I. Alonso, CER**D
Sandra Lee Brooks, CET**D
Paula M. Brokaw, CET**D
Miguel Logue Drake, CERT*D
Elizabeth Marie Farrell, CET**D
Erin Leah Flynn, CET**D
Ellen Frogner, CET**D
Kelley Anne Grijalva, CET**D
Brandy Houser, CET**D
Brian J. Killgore, CERT*D
Marcella Mae Knopp, CET**D
Barbara Jeanne Little, CET**D
Cindy Lynn Millelot, CET**D
Michelle Miller, CET**D
Dennis Miracle, CET**D
Brooke L. Myers, CET**D
Lee Ann Nussbaum, CET**D
Jayme Marie Olsen, CERT*D
Jane A. Pfitzinger, CERT*D
Lorna Slowikowski, CET**D
Erica Leigh Van Ostrand, CER**D
Wendi J. Werren, CERT*D
Nichole M. Wiest, CER**D
Mary C. Zajaczkowski, CER**D
— New Jersey
A general discussion of the program and a current schedule is at
Steve Simon, CERT
Certification Chair —
A warm welcome to our new members
since the last issue of The Court Reporter
Members can go to the Association's on-line Directories by clicking
Those who do not wish to appear in on-line
listings are shown with initials only:
Margaret Louise Arsenault, Florida
Caroline Coronado, Virginia
Barbara Demery-Gillam, California
Linda S. Derry, Ohio
Lisa Gail Edmondson, South Carolina
Margie Ann Green, Florida
Cindy Hoskin, Florida
Lisa Lange, Delaware
Susan LaPooh, New Jersey
Eunice McCarthy, Connecticut
Phyllis M. Mullins, Virginia
Kristin V. Pejsa, Florida
Elinor Ruth Shows, Louisiana
Dorothy Smith Pouch, Maryland
AAERT Membership Benefits
Review the details of these offers in the Members Area of our
or click on these company logos:
court reporting equipment and supplies
professional liability and disability insurance at
Contact the Editor: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Court Reporter is published by
The American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers, Inc.,
which reserves all rights, whether in electronic or print modalities. © 2010.
Randel Raison, CET, President
2900 Fairhope Road /
Wilmington, Delaware 19810-1624
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