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The Court Reporter Summer 2005
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For Professionals in Electronic / Digital Court Technology

Volume 10, Number 3, Summer 2005 . . .


    In this issue:
  • Departments

      >     President's Message

      >     Publication Notes
  • Technical

      >     Integrated Technologies in the Legal Field

      >     E-Transcript program tips
  • The Association

      >     Membership changes / developments

      >     New Education Fund gets off the ground

      >     AAERT's 2006 Board of Directors / Officers

      >     2005 AAERT Awards:
    Reporter of the Year:
    Margaret Morgan, CERT (Minnesota)
    Transcriber of the Year:
    Karen Bergstrom, CERT (Florida)

      >     And congratulations to recently certified members!






President's Message
change, change, change . . .

First, I want to thank all our convention sponsors for supporting AAERT's 12th Annual Convention. Our industry relies on innovative digital recording technology. Having the chance to meet face-to-face with leading vendors in the industry fosters a close relationship between our members and the leading edge of technology. We are dedicated to being the best we can be today, and even better tomorrow, as Judge Smalls, our keynote speaker, shared with us in Arlington. We encourage all our members to recognize and choose our supporting vendors when researching their purchasing needs. We appreciate our sponsors' generous support. You all helped make our convention in Arlington a success!
Our conferences encourage innovative and challenging discussion, networking, and unity. In the next weeks you'll see more in-depth coverage of specific topics addressed in Arlington.

We realize that our industry is a constantly changing, ever-evolving one, and we must remain flexible and adaptable to opportunities coming our way. Change is a word that annoys some and excites others. Accepting the growth of our industry and reacting appropriately was discussed by the Board in Arlington. As an Association, we need to evaluate ways to become more efficient and effective. Some of the resulting changes the Board agreed upon are also reflected in our newsletter. We are striving to be the best we can be today, and even better tomorrow!

Janet B. Harris,  CERT
AAERT President
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Ever hear of a [nearly] paperless deposition? Do lawyers think about seeing and simultaneously hearing the record, instead of merely reading it? What about viewing an actual exhibit while watching a witness testify about it, observing the body language, hearing the voice tones? Just how sophisticated can E-Reporting become?

Very sophisticated indeed, according to Lynn Packer, a trial consultant (now based in Utah) and former broadcaster in the U.S. and Europe, who came to our Arlington conference and presented his thought-provoking overview / preview of E-Reporting's prospects.   First, he presented an historical review:   telegraphs transmit information letter by letter; court stenography does so syllable by syllable. The real "wave of the future" will be an integrated system of written words, quality audio, and eye-catching video.

Coming to grips with future possibilities requires thinking outside the box, Packer says. This is not something the legal profession and the courts find easy to do --- historically, they are a quantum leap behind (1) the military, (2) broadcasting, and (3) general industry on "the curve," and they adjust to a changing technical world at a snail's pace. (Even when supplied with adequate technology, inept or untrained staff and unconcerned administration can ensure failures, such as equipment not even being turned on, microphones pointed toward walls, and other badges of incompetence.)
Of course, E-Reporting works very well for those who want it to. Among other things, such as producing the only truly verifiable record, Packer noted that it improves trial productivity. He reviewed the first and second murder trials of a Dr. Weitzel:   the first, conducted under traditional courtroom protocols, took 25 trial days and ended in a conviction. Upon remand, the second trial's defense team used a full panoply of electronic options, including digitized documents with graphic displays, took just 11 days, and won an acquittal.

Packer suggested a new business model for our industry. He recommended redefining E-Reporting to uniformly include audio and video, together with exhibit images linked within transcripts. Those wishing to expand horizons even further may want to consider offering ancillary services:   document scans, barcoding / digital Bates-stamping, time lines, flow charts, as well as trial presentation aids such as equipment set-up and operation, or design and preparation of audio-video deposition excerpts for opening and closing arguments to juries.

Our skills will be needed more than ever as courts and litigators, however belatedly, come to realize that real, measurable benefits arrive with technical integration, and that clinging to one-dimensional approaches is not only expensive and wasteful, but is ultimately a dead end. Viewed in this light, we deserve to be paid for the full range of our technical expertise, not merely for cranking out lots of dry pages.

Mr. Packer went on to make specific audio / video production recommendations, which will be the subject of another article in The Court Reporter.
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E-Transcript --- tips for integrating Word or WordPerfect files

Rebecca Askew of RealLegal, the company producing the E-Transcript format widely used in the legal field, shares the following suggestions for Word and WordPerfect users:
  • Always place your transcript file into E-Transcript Manager first, then make any final edits, and then print from E-Transcript Manager itself.
  • Courier New 10 is the preferred font; this helps E-Transcript to correctly match page and line numbering.
  • Number all lines.
  • When importing a file into E-Transcript, select the option Check before advancing to repaginate the transcript, and then in the next dialog box click Reformat to 25 lines per page.
  • Review the imported Word or WordPerfect file in E-Transcript Editor, and edit if necessary.

There are some well-known issues regarding Word or WordPerfect's Import Wizard, and here are a few helpful hints:
  • Do NOT use "smart quotes"; "smart quotes" look like a little 66 and 99 before / after quoted material.   Turn OFF this pesky, unnecessary feature in the word processor's options.
  • Copying an "object" (such as a certificate page) into E-Transcript can cause problems.   Instead, use the simple, standard copy / paste method to make such insertions.
  • Do NOT insert or paste images into a document!   If you need a logo, say in a header or footer, use the Transcript Attachment dialog box to select Stationery. You can add stationery from the Import Wizard either before or after your transcript is lodged within E-Transcript Manager.
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2005's AAERT AWARDS --- Reporter and Transcriber of the Year
MARGARET MORGAN, CERT, received 2005's REPORTER OF THE YEAR AWARD at AAERT's 12th Annual Convention in Arlington, Virginia. From 1983 through 1993 Margaret worked as a legal assistant and legal secretary. She began as an official court reporter in 1994, working with Judge Gerard Ring in Rochester, Minnesota. After Judge Ring's retirement, she began working with The Hon. Jodi L. Williamson in Olmsted County District Court. Judge Williamson hears all types of cases.

Margaret participated in preparing a petition on behalf of Minnesota electronic court reporters to equalize salary and benefits with those provided to stenographic reporters, and presented it to the court reporter subcommittee of the Minnesota Conference of Chief Judges. This was successful in equalizing the salaries of electronic and stenographic court reporters across the state. Margaret also worked on the committee that drafted and negotiated the official court reporter employment contract. One day, these achievements will probably impact electronic court reporters around the country.

Now a local celebrity, Morgan was quoted in a June 14, 2005 Rochester Post-Bulletin article: "'Technology is changing the way all of us are doing our jobs right now.'" The paper added, "Electronic court reporting is not new. It has been used in Olmsted County for about 25 years." Referring to Stenography and E-Reporting, "There are huge benefits to both types of systems," she told the newspaper. "Both are highly accurate ways to capture and preserve the court record." Margaret works hard behind the scenes, but her respectful, professional attitude causes her to shine. She represents the court reporting profession well, regardless of methodology.

On a personal note, Margaret enjoys time with her husband Bill and their family, which includes two precious grandchildren and one spoiled dog. Always active, Margaret runs, reads, goes to the theater, travels, and spends a lot of time outdoors when Minnesota weather permits. These green summer days must remind her of Ireland --- and she absolutely loves anything Irish!
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2005's TRANSCRIBER OF THE YEAR AWARD was presented to KAREN BERGSTROM, CERT, at AAERT's 12th Annual Convention in Arlington, Virginia. Rick Hussey, court reporting manager in West Palm Beach, Florida, nominated Karen for this honor. He traveled to Arlington to say a few words on her behalf. Rick said that Karen has been typing court transcripts for the 15th Judicial Circuit since 1980. She types everything, including death penalty cases, and "There is never a job that Karen can't tackle."

Karen initially typed for stenographers, then, when Sony machines were installed, she transcribed from the tape recordings; now she does digital court transcription. Mr. Hussey said Karen has typed many, many thousands of pages of court transcripts in her electronic court reporting career. He also credited her with being his best recruiter. Each of Karen's three daughters has transcribed for the 15th Circuit: Stacey transcribed through college and now teaches, Angie transcribed through nursing school, and Ashleigh is still transcribing her way through college --- and she wants to stay in the legal profession in some capacity. In addition, Susan Permuy, Karen's best friend since junior high days, now works as an electronic court reporter for the 15th Circuit.
Karen moved to West Palm Beach, Florida when she was three years old and has lived there ever since. She started transcribing as a way to stay at home and raise a family. She is still transcribing at home, and any downtime she has, she likes to play with her grandkids. Because of her busy schedule, she doesn't go on long trips, but is always planning weekend getaways with her daughters and grandchildren --- Disney World and the Bahamas are top picks.

As her daughter Stacey said, "Mom is never alone. We've all moved out at different times, but someone is always moving back home." Karen said the last time she thought she was going to finally be alone, one daughter literally moved back in as the other daughter was leaving. Not to be outsmarted, Karen decided to move out herself, and is having a new townhouse built: "The kids can have the house."

Rick Hussey asked his court administrator for hints on what to say at Karen's award presentation. He was told, "Keep it short and sweet." Rick replied, "That's easy: Karen IS short and sweet."
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And congratulations to recently certified members!

June 2005's certification testing cycle in Arlington, Virginia, and Gainesville, Florida, added these members to our ranks of AAERT-certified E-Reporters and E-Transcribers:

Cherri Brown, CET**D   (Fayetteville, Georgia)
Judith Geruntino, CER   (Clinton, New York)
Priscilla Holloway, CET**D   (Gainesville, Florida)
Josette Jones, CET**D   (Townsend, Delaware)
Susan Permuy, CER   (Royal Palm Beach, Florida)
Janice Warner, CET   (Crownsville, Maryland)
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Membership changes, developments:
entry-level / apprentice memberships --- dues structure for 2006
The Board has created a special membership category, effective 1 July 2005, for those who are relatively new or entry-level to our industry, for learners, apprentices, or interns who have been in the profession under two years.   This will give them a period of time to become eligible to sit for our certification exams. Their annual dues will be $55.   Our General members will be those who have at least two years' experience in E-Reporting or E-Transcription.

To gradually smooth out AAERT's income stream, those newly joining us after July 1, 2005 will have membership for an actual year counting from their joining dates, rather than reverting to a calendar-year system. This will not affect the large majority of current members who are on our former calendar-year system, so their renewal reminders will come to them, as usual, around mid-November each year.
It's been just under a decade now since our General membership dues structure was last amended.
If AAERT is to continue serving the industry well, we need adequate resources both to enhance benefits offered to members, such as our national certification program and industry conference, as well as to develop further training and educational materials to encourage professionalism in our field. The Board has, therefore, set dues for General members at $85 per year, and this will appear on 2006's renewal notices in due course.

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

If you have questions or comments, please contact Bill Wagner, Treasurer, at
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New Education Fund gets off the ground

AAERT has a brand-new Education Fund, which will be used to further our on-line and other potential continuing education / training goals for the benefit of all members.   2005's Arlington conference chairs arranged a raffle of various interesting items to get the Fund off to a good start --- among which were a 3-day vacation at Sanibel Sunset Beach Resort, located on a beautiful Florida island near Ft. Myers on the Atlantic coast; a state-of-the-art DVD player; and SearchMaster's helpful file / directory organizing software.

Remember, contributions to the Education Fund are welcome at any time. As always, contributions to AAERT are tax-deductible.
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Publication Notes

The Court Reporter will, after this issue, no longer carry paid advertising. We believe our quarterly newsletter should convey substantive information appropriate for a professional journal. Advertisers will continue to have access to our website,, which is open to a larger audience than print media can provide.
Our Certification Test Study Guide is now available in PDF format via our website, Its on-screen index is "clickable" --- that is, selecting an index page number takes you directly there in the Guide. The file is also searchable by word or phrase, which should greatly enhance its value as a work-related tool. A special download link will be sent to those who obtain the Guide on line (cost, $45). It will no longer be published in a hard-copy version.
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AAERT's 2006 Board of Directors and Officers

We are very happy to welcome Margaret Morgan, CERT (Minnesota) to AAERT's Board of Directors, effective July 1, 2005. Margaret's joining the board adds further geographic diversity, and her demonstrated professionalism will be of great benefit to the Association.
Board members and officers are, left to right:   Kimberly McCright-Young, CET**D (Arizona); Sherry Simmons, CER (Delaware); Margaret Morgan, CERT (Minnesota); Janet Harris, CERT (Wisconsin); Gillian Lawrence, CERT (Florida); Bill Wagner, CET (Washington); and Luis Gomez, CCV (Florida).
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              The Court Reporter is published by
The American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers, Inc. Both electronically and in print, all rights reserved. © 2005.

Gillian Lawrence, CERT, Editor,
AAERT   /   23812 Rock Circle   /   Bothell, WA 98021-8573.






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