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The Court Reporter Summer 2006
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For Professionals in Electronic / Digital Court Technology

Volume 11, Number 3, Summer 2006 . . .


    In this issue: Click here to view directly in your browser

Click for Conference 2006 Highlights.






Regional Justice Center, Las Vegas

an electronic / digital courthouse
— achieving unparalleled potentials

Would you be surprised to learn that in just a few short years Las Vegas / Clark County, Nevada, will be one of America's most populous metropolitan areas? This comes as no surprise to the Census Bureau, nor to court administrators in the 8th Judicial District, seated in Las Vegas. Indeed, by the late '90s the District was already planning a state-of-the-art urban court system for its Regional Justice Center, perhaps the first fully "smart courthouse" designed in America.

The new Center opened last fall, and on June 6th Michael Sommermeyer, court information officer, guided an AAERT Conference group on a private tour. Staff were on hand to demonstrate how the systems have improved their work product, and answer our questions. Representatives of Jefferson Audio Video Systems (JAVS,, producers of the courtroom electronics installed in the Center, were present as well.

The Center's technical backbone is an optical fiber system which not only opens the door to full digital / video recording within the building itself, but is linked to the district attorney's office and county detention facilities for video arraignments and evidence storage / retrieval.

In the Atrium:

Upon entering the Center's first floor atrium, you will notice an immediate electronic presence:  a bank of helpful display screens shows the day's caseload scheduled throughout the building, together with courtroom assignments and other specific information. These displays are updated continuously as cases are disposed of, settled or otherwise resolved, or continued.

Atrium case information screens, Regional Justice Center
Clark County (Las Vegas), Nevada

In the Courtrooms:

Of course, the really significant parts of the building are the courtrooms themselves. Their features include "smart" microphones strategically placed in the room, as well as mounted in ceiling positions. These mikes, in effect, "follow" speakers, even as they move about in the room, by sensing relative sound levels and directions, then automatically increasing / decreasing their respective audio inputs accordingly.

The JAVS system's powerful, yet inconspicuous video cameras also "follow" as speakers alternate or move about — except the cameras cannot pan into the jury box itself, for obvious security reasons.

Wireless headphones are available for those with impaired hearing, so they can follow proceedings at amplified sound levels, yet sit anywhere in the audience.

The Center's design team affirmatively rejected old-fashioned "shoebox" room plans, to ensure everyone can both see and hear comfortably — and even the room's corners are adequately lighted. Fixtures and furnishings are placed (and spaced) with an eye to overall functional efficiency.

Notice that the judge's bench is sited in the far corner, which thus becomes a visual focal point for the entire room. The witness box is next in order, seen immediately to the left. The jury box is on the far left. Court staff occupy the right flank. Counsel tables are toward the center of the room, facing the witness box. The public audience is seated behind counsel, separated by a traditional half-wall.

At the Demonstration:

AAERT visitors took seats randomly at various positions in the courtroom — within the jury box, at counsel tables, and in the far rear of the audience area. To demonstrate the sensitivity of audio capture, a speaker turned his back to all visible microphones, continued talking as he walked to the courtroom's entrance door, yet was still heard clearly throughout the room — and equally well over the hearing-impaired headsets.

All elements are under the direct control of court staff, who expressed their satisfaction with how the integrated systems are performing in daily use. And, of course, all recordings are appropriately archived for future reference.



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A fond farewell to printed newsletters — yet, still, goodbye!

Dear Members,

At its June meeting in Las Vegas, AAERT's Board of Directors voted to fully embrace the concept of The Court Reporter as an interactive, electronic, e-mailed membership publication.  Thus, this issue, Vol. 11, No. 3, is the last hard-copy printed issue produced and sent by regular mail.  Of course, a large majority of us already receive our copies by e-mail.

Basically, all that is needed is a current e-mail address and, of course, your password into the members area of our website.  Remember, AAERT does not sell or otherwise distribute our members' database information.  You may have questions:
  • Should I use my   home e-address   or the one I have at work?

    Because some employers restrict incoming messages, we recommend that you register your home e-address and password with me, Karl Fuss, database manager.  Just send a note, and I'll take it from there.
  • How do I get a password?

    You can choose one and register it with me at  Or I can assign one to you, whichever you prefer.  Passwords are for members' access only, and NO financial transaction with AAERT ever involves your password in any way.

  • What if I've forgotten my password?

    Write a quick note to me at, and I'll remind you — or if you have not previously chosen a password, I'll help you establish one.

Karl Fuss, CERT (Washington)
Database Manager



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President's Message
Partnership across the profession

Have you ever seen a dog chase a car and catch it? Well, in case you haven't, take a look at my face and you'll see what his face might look like. Awestruck, confounded, excited, exuberant. Thank you for allowing me
But there the comparison ends....

It was no solitary chase for this prized car. I have the security of continuing to tread along the paths long ago laid out for this Association and its Board by an incredible group of visionary leaders who recognized the need for professionalism, consistency and certification, long before it was required. In fact, in most venues, their vision is still that — a vision. But we are on the very cusp of change. And, perhaps, that puppy would not look dumfounded if he had the dynamic team of Board members and Committee Chairs who are valiantly leading this Association through its continued membership growth and ever-changing technology.

Over the past few years I have had the opportunity of really getting to know the leaders in this Association and many in its membership. This year, I would like to meet more of you — what practices are different for each of us; what practices are the same? Please write me and educate me —  But I'm just one person; how about educating en masse by writing an article for our Association's newsletter?  Iron sharpens iron — educate your fellow reporters. Do not be immobilized by perfection — teach us what you know, now.

Be sure to invite your fellow court reporters to join AAERT. If each of you encourages one member to join, our membership will double. We all know videographers, stenographers and voice-writers who are also involved with electronic court reporting. We had three stenographers from Washington State attend our June convention because they produce transcripts from court recordings — they were pleased with the information they received. In fact, also remind your associates who are NCRA or NVRA members that they can attend AAERT conventions for continuing education purposes. This is an inclusive, not exclusive, association. All of our growth has come from continuing to change with technology and looking for solutions for every problem that comes across our path.

In recent years we have had convention attendees from Australia, Barbados, Bermuda, Canada, Hong Kong, and Trinidad. Electronic court reporting is actively taking place in these countries and they are looking to AAERT for education and leadership. In fact, Australia / Asia have modeled an association after AAERT. Kimberly McCright-Young, Vice President and Government Relations Chair, has been actively communicating with various States and their court administrators. Kimberly is a great model of Partnership Across the Profession — she regularly educates those involved in our profession, and members have joined because she takes the time to educate them on who we are here at AAERT.

And I have to say a special thank you to Janet Harris, Immediate Past President, who has modeled leadership and delegation to me these past few years. On behalf of the Board, Janet, we are thankful for your leadership and very excited to work together in these months ahead.

Remember, AAERT Members, we want to hear from you. Go to Contact Us on the website and e-mail your Board.  Allow us, your Board, to represent YOU — not who we think you are. Thanks,

Gillian Lawrence,  CERT
AAERT President



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  The Nature of Words

I'm certain that I'm not the only person who, when reading even a book with a riveting plot, will become distracted by some small solecism on the part of the author.

I've begun reading a new mystery, and the first time the author used swang, I thought it was tongue-in-cheek, but she has persisted.  In consulting the dictionary, I see that the usage of swang is considered either archaic or dialectal, so I will assume that is the case, rather than the outright error that my spell-checker thinks it is.

Then my mind meandered to the general subject of irregular verb forms in the English language. Why not swing, swang, swung, when we have ring, rang, rung? Of course, then I get to bring, brang, brung, and why brought is the past tense of bring, when rang is the past tense of ring.

In reading about English irregular verbs, I rapidly found myself swamped with information, but I gleaned a few pertinent facts: English irregular verbs all originate from Old English, and some common irregularities result from, one, changing the existing vowel in the present tense to a "short o" sound in the past tense — think to thought, bring to brought, catch to caught — or, two, changing the existing vowel in the present tense to a "long o" sound in the past tense — break to broke, freeze to froze, and so on.

Still, I wonder about the different paths taken by these rhyming words in Old English and in the present tense:
                singan — sing — sang
              swingan — swing — swung
              wringan — wring — wrung
              bringan — bring — brought.
Laurel H. Stoddard, CET (Texas)
On The Record Reporting & Transcription, Inc.




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  Interactive Quick-Quizthis time, some word-twisters

Taking cues from the clues you'll find by clicking here, unscramble the words in this quiz.
Solutions, are right on line, so you'll know instantly (yet privately) how well you decipher oblique remarks by court staff and other players in the legal arena.

Take the Quick-Quiz now.



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Our own unique contributions:

Separate branches of government,
a federal structure,
enumerated central powers,
legal equality / due process,
secular administration

Common, customary, or judge-made law,
case law precedents,
peer juries

Detailed laws, grand juries, official reports, parliaments

Uniform procedures, accessible law codes

Constitutions, public trials, citizen jurors, popular assemblies

A timely reminder . . .

July 2006, this issue's original publication month, marked the 230th anniversary of America's formal break with its previous form of government.  Another dozen-plus years of experiment and debate elapsed before a new system was successfully in place.  The Founders consciously drew upon earlier legal traditions, unconsciously absorbed elements from many sources, and wound up with novel arrangements — but no guarantees.

When the Constitutional Convention ended, an elderly Philadelphia woman approached one of its members and asked, "Well, Dr. Franklin, what have you given us?"  He replied, "A republic, madamif you can keep it."



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Product Preview:
Introducing   FTR MinutesTM
We've gotten so used to saying electronic court reporter that it starts to sound like a single, long, vaguely Teutonic word: 'lectronicorreporter.  But E-Reporting is alive and well in a broad array of decidedly non-judicial settings, too.  Just consider:
  • corporations, whose boards of directors are busy making expensive business decisions, wisely or not so wisely;

  • stockholder meetings discussing and approving (or not approving) management's performance;

  • your own city council and county board of supervisors holding public hearings (or sitting in executive session) to decide on taxes, zoning, schools, and public works issues — intimately affecting people's everyday lives;

  • the countless conferences and conventions convened by groups of all sizes and every description.

These organizations need permanent records of their activities — records we usually call minutes.  Properly kept minutes preserve a legally dispositive record of who was there, what topics they discussed, the motions that were made and seconded and voted on — and how each member voted.

FTR Minutes is a software package designed to help anyone who takes minutes create superior business records. Michele Lilley, FTR's Product Manager, demonstrated the program's features at AAERT's June E-Reporting Conference in Las Vegas, in a well-received "lunch and learn" session.  Besides standard note-taking and vote-tallying, its underlying ability to digitally preserve the entire session means that if anyone later questions the minutes' accuracy, the E-Reporter can quickly access linked verbatim audio files to resolve who said what, to whom, when — and even how. (Speak with FTR about specific third-party digital audio equipment compatibility.)

Minutes' menus are Windows-style, easy to understand and use.  It supports multiple organizations, each with its own customized format.  It's simple to export drafts for individual comments, and producing a final version, as in the popular PDF format, is a snap.

The Minutes package ($995) includes:
TheRecord Player,
TheRecord Producer,
Minutes add-in to Microsoft Word
(includes a 2-channel software recorder),
iMic USB audio adapter,
audio connector cable,
FTR headset,
5-pack, TheRecord Album - CD media.
Minutes with Marantz PMD671 is $1,995.

In today's service-competitive world, those who wish to expand their engagements beyond traditional court-related work may want to consider the opportunities available to E-Reporters in the "minutes-taking" arena.

When a meeting is called to order, Minutes keeps it orderly.



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Word's     Words to the Wise

A public television program, The Woodwright's Shop, has a traditional carpenter showing would-be woodworkers how to use basic tools in everyday projects.  Well, that's fine for furniture, but what professional transcribers have needed for a long time is some kind of WORDwright's Shop so they can be as comfortably familiar working in Word as they have been in WordPerfect.

Although Word has a full range of features, it's had a reputation for being a bit intimidating, and not particularly intuitive.  Well, along came Karon Etienne of in D.C.  She was invited to speak to AAERT for a second time, this year at our E-Reporting and Transcribing Conference in Las Vegas, because she does, indeed, know how to tame Word and make it responsive for professional users.

So you want to do . . . what?
  • I want to keep line numbers intact, even though I sometimes need to move between double- and single-spacing on a page.
  • I need a simple way to place / replace headerswithout unexpectedly undoing the prior ones all the time!
  • I have to maintain both state and federal formats, plus some for individual attorney clients — and must keep these templates separate, yet easily accessible for updating.

Karon asked the Conference a provocative question:  Do you want to automate Word, or not? True, moving repetitive functions out of the realm of conscious effort and into the realm of the automatic, has always improved productivity in other arenas.  So most of us answered, Yes, I want to automate as much of my work as is reasonable.

She then walked the Conference through "how to" primers on AutoCorrect, AutoText, and AutoFormat, the basic levels of Word automation.  A higher level of sophistication is available with Macros and Styles.  Because these are more advanced features, you will need to think about what you really want to see happen when you invoke them, even planning them on paper in advance of entry to ensure you have included a full "operation setup" for each one, and are not left hanging in mid-air with half-completed items on the page — always an unwelcome distraction.

Over the last year, AAERT members presented our perennial problem areas to Karon, and she went right to work.  In Las Vegas she introduced The Scriber's ToolKit, software to help any of us improve our Word skills.  It covers all those areas, and more.  For further information on what the ToolKit offers and includes, contact Diversified Consultations at  Mention our 2006 Conference, and you can receive a special discount when ordering.
  Karon Etienne is founder and president of Diversified Consultations, specializing in technical training, documentation, and support. She has trained thousands of employees for major U.S. and international organizations, and counts IBM, Morgan Stanley, and the United States Department of Justice among her clients.

Karon's greatest joy is when her students finally "get it," and she considers her ability to communicate technical jargon into everyday language a gift.  She resides in College Park, Maryland, with her husband and two children.



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Suggestions for more successful,
more productive on-line searches

Some you probably already knew about or use all the time — others, you possibly didn't, or don't.
Click here and see . . .



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2006 - 2007 Board of Directors / Officers

Although the seven members on our Board of Directors remain the same for another year, we have a new President, Gillian Lawrence, CERT, of Florida. She has served on the Board since 2003, most recently as Vice-President, and was elected at the Board's June meeting in Las Vegas to replace our outgoing four-term President, Janet B. Harris, CERT (Wisconsin).

Gillian's background includes working as a legal secretary for Shell Oil Company and as an independent court transcriber doing appeals, expedites, and dailies for the Los Angeles Superior Court. Upon moving to Orlando, Florida, she joined the 9th Judicial Circuit's court reporting staff, and in 2001 obtained her AAERT certification. Last year Gillian was promoted to Manager, Electronic Court Reporting, and works in Florida's 18th Judicial Circuit's Criminal Justice Center. She has contributed to The Court Reporter since 2002, and now serves on our Publications Committee.

AAERT's other officers for the year are Vice-President Kimberly McCright-Young, CET**D (Arizona), Secretary Sherry Simmons, CER (Delaware), Treasurer William E. Wagner, CET (Washington), and board members Janet Harris, CERT (Wisconsin), Luis Gomez, CCV (Florida), and Margaret Morgan, CERT (Minnesota).



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  AAERT's 13th Annual Conference
Las Vegas

Click here to view Conference highlights.
        GOLD SPONSORS        

        SILVER SPONSORS        

J & J Court Transcribers, Inc.
Hamilton, New Jersey

Neal R. Gross & Co., Inc.
Washington, D.C.

On The Record Reporting & Transcription, Inc.
Austin, Texas

        BRONZE SPONSORS        

Absolute Video, Inc.
Miami, Florida

Cambridge Transcriptions
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Gal Friday Reporting & Transcription
Maricopa, Arizona

Western Deposition & Transcription, LLC
Denver, Colorado




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Of Note:   AAERT members in action

DG Debbie Garr, of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, is Director of Court Reporting Services for Florida's 17th Judicial Circuit, and has been designated by the National Association for Court Management to help develop a court reporting manual to be entitled Making the Court Record.

Debbie is a former director of the Circuit's Witness Liaison and Misdemeanor Probation Departments, and is a member of the Florida Digital Court Reporters Association. She also has been selected as a member of a statewide special committee assigned to review procedures for more timely transcript submissions in dependency and termination of parental rights appeals. Ms. Garr is a twenty-six-year veteran of the Florida court system.

GMA Gail Malm Armstrong, CERT, of Logansport, Indiana, attended a May 13th statewide meeting of the Indiana Shorthand Reporters Association and participated, as a member of both ISRA and AAERT, in discussing certification and recognition issues.

The meeting was a cordial one, and Gail later remarked, "Imagine a state where you don't have to fight tooth and nail to get recognized as reporters. . . . where all the reporters work together, no matter what their method of reporting, to produce good quality records, each with their own strengths. . . . It's refreshing to think about."

ISRA will meet again in October.


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Newly Certified Members, Spring 2006

The spring cycle of AAERT's ongoing certification program was divided between a specially arranged site in Gainesville, Florida on April 29, and at our annual Conference-related examinations held on June 7 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

2006's fall tests will be scheduled in various cities in late October or early November, and details will appear on line at in due course. Locations are generally announced by late August.

Congratulations and our very best wishes to these candidates who earned their initial or upgraded certifications!

Kathleen Amand, CET**DAnchorage, Alaska
Dixie Cooksey, CET**DRoseville, California
Mary Henry, CET**DSugar Land, Texas
Sara Kern, CET**DCornville, Arizona
Jennifer Linnartz, CET**DSalisbury Mills, New York
Michael Mulrine, CER**DGeorgetown, Delaware
Virginia Niswonger, CERT*DGainesville, Florida
Diana Phipps, CERTLebanon, Virginia
Randel Raison, CET**DHouston, Texas
Coleen Rand, CET**DLafayette, New Jersey
Vanessa Sagar, CER**DAlachua, Florida


For test-related information, contact:
Steve Simon,  CERT
Certification Chair,



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A warm welcome to our new members
since the April 2006 issue of The Court Reporter

AAERT members can go to our on-line Directories by clicking here.


Sonya Michelle Brown
Michelle Brown Court Reporting, Inc.
Grundy, Virginia

Marjorie D. Jackson
Reed Jackson Watkins
Seattle, Washington

Linda Edwards
Word For Word Professional Services, LLC
West Palm Beach, Florida


Kathleen D. Amand
      — Anchorage, Alaska
Anisa A. Beddow
      — Maricopa, Arizona
Karen Brookes
      — Centennial, Colorado
Josie M. Carillo
      — El Dorado, California
Darla M. Chavez
      — Duncanville, Texas
Tammy Elaine Crawford
      — Lawtey, Florida

Deborah Crouthamel
      — Monroeville, New Jersey
Leigh Ellen David
      — Falls Church, Virginia
Jennifer A. Farrington
      — Sanford, Florida
Lucy T. Gudz
      — Albany, New York
Claire Ann Hair
      — St. Cloud, Florida
Sara L. Kern
      — Cornville, Arizona
Kimberly Sue Knutson
      — Bothell, Washington
Julie Lord
      — Littleton, Colorado
Lisa A. Mack
      — Toms River, New Jersey
Ruby M. McGhee
      — Homewood, Illinois
Elizabeth Musgrave
      — McCook, Nebraska
Bonnie Reed
      — Seattle, Washington
Wendy Ward Roberts
      — Garland, Texas
Rachel Rosenberg
      — Toronto, Ontario, Canada



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Your invitation to more fully participate

AAERT is a voluntary association, and our fellow members' ideas, submissions, and suggestions are welcome.

In addition, the Association undertakes special projects from time to time, and also has standing committees which provide valuable services for us all. These include Certification, Publications, Membership, and Government Relations, among others.

By logging on to the members area of our website, you can observe some of the other functions whose success depends upon our participation:  the Association's database or the content and presentation of the web page itself are just two examples.

In June of 2007, three positions on our seven-member Board of Directors will be open for election at our annual business meeting. Any general or corporate member can serve on the Board.  Far from being an onerous chore, working closely and cooperatively with others in the industry is a wonderful way to help form Association policies and shape the services we provide.

All those now serving invite you to join in these efforts to ensure E-Reporting's place in the future.



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Thank you!

Fourscore and . . . well, not quite that long, but after four terms, the time has come.

I am grateful we have found such a qualified and dedicated volunteer as Gillian Lawrence to serve as our next president.  Over the past few years she has gained a great deal of experience in our industry.  Gillian, along with all the board members, have been wonderful to work with.

It has been a great opportunity to serve on the board, and I recommend it to every member!  As an Association, we will continue to grow together as we have in the past.

Thank you all for your support and encouragement during my leadership.  Our future is in good hands.

Janet B. Harris,  CERT (Wisconsin)
Return to Table of Contents

Contact the Editor

The Court Reporter is published by
The American Association of Electronic Reporters & Transcribers, Inc.
All rights reserved, whether electronically or in print.   © 2006.

Gillian Lawrence, CERT, President

AAERT   /   23812 Rock Circle   /   Bothell, WA 98021-8573.






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