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For Professionals in
Electronic / Digital Court Technology
Volume 14, Number 4 — Winter 2009
. . .
AAERT At Sea, 2010:
2010 dues structure amended — E-Renewals replace snail-mail invoices
The Board of Directors has restructured annual dues for our next
membership period — and upcoming renewal invoices will soon reflect
these changes. At the same time, corporate memberships have been
Please keep in mind that our dues have not changed for nearly half a decade.
Clearly, this was not an easy decision for the Board to make;
however, it is a necessary one in order to help facilitate AAERT's
continued growth and development.
We believe sending E-Renewals rather than hard-copy papers will be more
efficient and convenient for us all. Of course,
responding by check / mail
will still be perfectly okay — or we can renew on line,
Should you have questions or concerns, please contact Sherry Simmons,
Executive Director, at
email@example.com, or (800) 233-5306.
General members: $125
A general membership is for those practicing electronic / digital reporting,
transcribing, proofreading, managing / administration, or videography, or
those who have experience in the general court reporting field.
All corporate members: $200
The former three-tiered corporate structure is now simplified:
a single corporate membership class.
This is designed for firms holding a business license, or administering a contract with a
governmental agency, to conduct the business of electronic reporting
and / or transcribing.
A Corporate member's representative has one
vote in Association business. A free Internet public weblink is also
provided on AAERT's website.
Apprentices / Interns / Learners: $75
This membership class is for those just entering or relatively new to the
field — e.g., with less than two years of experience.
Vendor members: $500
For firms which supply goods and services related to any aspect of
E-Reporting. Vendor members do not acquire Association voting rights.
ELECTRONIC REPORTING — savings plus other benefits
I was out of State for a weekend Board meeting. One of our
Circuit's judges called me on my cell phone. She apologized for
calling on the weekend, but stated that she needed to review a particular
case this weekend, and would I be able to supply her with the recording of
a previous hearing. The judge has a stenographer in her courtroom,
but we simultaneously record cases.
I called one of the court reporters and she went to the courthouse and
uploaded the audio to the judge. The judge was able to prepare for
her hearing, which avoided rescheduling.
Later that night I realized that I could have just logged in to my office
computer and simply uploaded the audio directly to her network drive without
needing a court reporter to go into the office.
Next time . . .
On another occasion, I had finished transcribing the audio recording of two
trials for one defendant — yes, in two separate cases in front of two
different judges. At disposition, the second judge was going to rule on
a victim restitution issue, but one of the attorneys mentioned that the first
judge had already ruled on that matter. (Having just transcribed both
trials, I, of course, knew the attorney was correct.) The judge noted
that it wasn't in the order. The attorney matter-of-factly said, "I
know it was done. We can just listen to the recording."
The court reporting culture has changed, and now each courtroom participant
is well aware of the beneficial uses of our recording system.
Gillian Lawrence, CERT
Eighteenth Judicial Circuit, Florida
During a recent court calendar, I experienced yet another situation
that clearly demonstrated how digital reporting is an efficient,
cost-effective, and valuable tool for court systems.
Defendant Jones appeared for his jury trial. He was represented by an
attorney from the Public Defender's Office; however, on the morning of
trial he appeared with private counsel. The attorney from the
Public Defender's Office was not aware that Defendant Jones had hired
private counsel, so that public defender attorney appeared ready for trial.
When Judge Chase called the case, the private attorney requested a
continuance, stating he was only retained the night before and was not
prepared for a jury trial. The defendant told Judge Chase that at
the pretrial conference ten days previously, he advised a different judge
that he planned to retain new counsel. The defendant told Judge Chase
that the pretrial judge said a continuance would be granted if the
defendant did, in fact, retain an attorney.
Judge Chase asked the digital court reporter (me!) to replay the
audio from that pretrial conference. All parties heard the pretrial
judge's comments to the defendant indicating that a continuance would be
granted "if Defendant retained counsel by . . ." Since
we were beyond that date, Judge Chase denied the continuance request and
the matter would proceed to trial.
After comments from the private attorney about appeal, Judge Chase
instructed counsel to confer with the defendant while he heard other
matters. When the case was re-called an hour later, the defendant
appeared with the attorney from the Public Defender's Office to enter a
By having the ability to instantly replay audio from a prior hearing,
regardless of which judge presided, the matter could continue through the
system without delay. The defendant was held accountable to the
system. The attorneys could hear exactly what was said to the
defendant at that prior hearing. It resulted in the matter being
handled when scheduled. It eliminated unnecessary delay and
additional clerical work. The defendant could not circumvent the
system. The matter was handled once, instead of requiring additional
court appearances and more work by reporters, judges, attorneys, and court
Margaret Morgan, CERT
Olmsted County District Court, Minnesota
Centralized Digital Court
Above: Nicole Hamilton, a digital court reporter
in Florida's Eighteenth Judicial Circuit.
I remember well the first two articles
about time management which
affected my thinking. I was a teenager. The articles were quite
simplistic, but their theories impacted my behavior in all areas of
life. The first article was about getting ready for an event.
The second one was about preparing a meal. Both started with the end
in mind: the exact time the event / meal would occur and a detailed
description of the meal / event. Next, the event / meal was broken
down into parts, with the length of time required to complete each
portion. Then a time line was created to follow. And, if
followed precisely, it would result in a beautiful choreography of the event
or time line.
Fast-forward more years than I care to admit. I now look at record
management / court reporting through the same lenses. Initially,
systems were set in place to produce the final product — the verbatim
transcript. Then, as we manage the record, we need to have systems
in place to produce that transcript after the scheduled proceeding.
The transcript may be ordered for daily turnaround or up to a 30-day
delivery. Systems must be in place to produce the transcript
according to the dictated time line. While being prepared to produce
transcripts according to the time line, we make a record of the proceedings.
There are multiple methods by which to make a record of court proceedings.
I will speak to my current work environment, centralized digital audio / video
recording of court proceedings.
Concurrently, the court audio / video recording processes themselves have
produced an additional product — the digital audio / video recording
itself. If a review of the hearing is needed, but a transcript is
not, the digital audio / video recording is provided to the requestor.
In our department we aim to have access to all court proceedings for the
current and past three years within five minutes. Audio more than
three years older than the current year will take approximately 15 minutes,
as it is no longer on our servers.
The end in mind: Verbatim transcripts ready within the required
time frame — daily to 30-day turnaround — and copies of
audio / video recordings which can be accessed within five
minutes receiving a request.
Gillian Lawrence, CERT
Eighteenth Judicial Circuit, Florida
What do we need in order to have easily accessible audio and timely
transcripts? Tools, and people who know how to use the tools:
Our experience has proven that with efficient systems and dedicated personnel,
each court proceeding will be recorded and captured with time-linked notes.
A case is easily located when requested due to the notes created by the
digital court reporters. In our Circuit, we record both audio and video.
The video is also a great aid in locating cases. Oftentimes the State
Attorney's Office, the Public Defender's Office, judges, staff attorneys,
private attorneys, the Clerk's Office, the media, and parties to cases will
order recordings instead of transcripts. If transcripts are requested,
they are produced according to the requestor's time line, utilizing either
employee digital court reporters or our contract court reporters. The
employee digital court reporters access all audio / video from our servers.
If the work is sent to our contract court reporters, it is immediately
uploaded to an FTP site.
- Sound equipment, recording computers, servers, microphones, and
- Recording software and note-taking software which is time-linked to the
- Dependable internal network and FTP site for speedy delivery of
audio / video;
- Certified digital court reporters to monitor court proceedings and
annotate case information;
- Staff to locate and produce copies of audio / video;
- Certified court reporters / transcribers, whether staff or
contractors, to timely produce transcripts;
- Continual communication with all necessary parties regarding Best
Practices for Court Reporting;
- Quality control — frequent review of the production of audio / video
It's difficult enough dealing with the differences between three different
court reporting methods: digital / electronic court reporting,
voice-writing, and stenographic reporting. Then within our own method,
we have many different methods of production and delivery. Please
take the time to learn about how members of AAERT perform their jobs.
Some are official digital / electronic court reporters working directly for
a judge, some are private digital / electronic court reporters, some are
centralized digital court reporters, some are transcribing from CDs and / or
tapes, and others are transcribing from audio downloaded off FTP sites.
I've spoken to transcribers who live in remote areas and rarely leave their
home office, while others are regularly flying across the country for
depositions. We have a lot to learn from each other!
Many of us work in centralized digital court
We invite you to submit your ideas
and / or articles to
firstname.lastname@example.org for publication.
Contact the Editor: email@example.com
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. © 2009.
Randel Raison, CET, President
2900 Fairhope Road /
Wilmington, Delaware 19810-1624
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