Print Page   |   Contact Us   |   Sign In   |   Register
The Court Reporter Winter/Spring 2007
Share |





For Professionals in Electronic / Digital Court Technology

Volume 12, Number 1, Winter / Spring 2007 . . .


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






        The Administrative Office of the United States Courts
— a long-awaited statement,
          and an important reminder to AAERT-certified transcribers
A federal bankruptcy court clerk recently asked if an AAERT member, who holds CET certification, was "on the list" of federally approved transcribers.

For those unaware of "the list," federal court clerks have historically been instructed to select outside transcription services from among those who have submitted for review an exemplar of their work, a transcript prepared from an assigned audio segment.

The clerk's question was posed to The Administrative Office of the United States Courts, usually referred to as "the AO" or "the AOC."  The AO replied:

"In accordance with Volume, Guide, Preparation of Transcripts from Electronic Sound Recordings, 'The court may have transcripts prepared by professional transcription services. The Administrative Office will assist courts in evaluating the qualifications of transcription services for providing verbatim and timely transcripts in accordance with the transcript format guidelines approved by the Judicial Conference.'  AAERT will meet those qualification requirements."

The transmittal reply's wording was more succinct:

"The AO recognizes AAERT, or equivalent testing, for professional credentials."

A caveat and a reminder to all CETs:

Because the AO views CETs as qualified to provide, ex officio, transcription services for the federal courts in federal format, it is critical to conform to all elements of the federal transcript guidelines.

It may be you do not now engage in federal transcription, and / or have no intention of ever doing so.  If you are, however, making yourself available to undertake federal work, be aware that non-conforming transcripts may be rejected by the court. 

AAERT's Certification Test Study Guide examines federal format issues in detail.  Our website gives an introduction and useful quick-reference examples of its primary elements.

Federal format templates are available in the members area for both Word and WordPerfect.



AAERT     AAERT     Return to Top     AAERT     AAERT



Texas Senate Jurisprudence Committee
endorses judicial choice among reporting methods
In December, the Texas Senate Jurisprudence Committee reported the results of its charge to

"Study and make recommendations relating to the use and cost benefits of electronic recording as an alternative method of preserving records of official court proceedings."

A hearing was held and, after further deliberation, the committee issued its findings and recommendations:  a strong Yes, that E-Reporting should be available wherever and whenever judges wish to use it in capturing the record.

This would mark an important shift from the old prescriptive system, which made it difficult for Texas courts to advance into electronic audio recording, and basically could be described as Henry Ford's rule:  You can get it in any color you like, as long as it's black.

Read the relevant excerpt from the committee's report (in PDF format) at Texas Committee Report.

The Findings

After an overview of the court reporting methods now available — and we all know what they are — the committee cited what other states are now doing, and examined the cost benefits associated with electronically capturing the record.

The Recommendations

Two recommendations were voted upon:  one, official transcripts should be the property of the court, not the reporter; and two,

"The Legislature should enact legislation to clearly provide that judges have the authority to choose the system of record-keeping for their courts."

Only one senator dissented, Robert Duncan [R, District 28, Lubbock].

An encouraging start — but what now?

The state legislature and supreme court will need to act before the current system can be as fully open in Texas as in other states.  There are, of course, no guarantees that the rules will, in fact, be expanded so that it will become a simple, routine matter for E-Reporting to take its proper place in Texas courtrooms.




AAERT     AAERT     Return to Top     AAERT     AAERT



Profitable (or not?) freelancing

          — Do you really know how you're doing financially?

Freelance:   to provide independent services for multiple clients, without an exclusive contract with any one — referring to medieval knights who had not sworn to serve a single lord, but were free to fight for whatever causes they chose.

(We thought this might grab your attention.)
If you are self-employed, profit questions are hardly new.  But do you have the answers?  How can you find out with some reasonable confidence?  What should you tally and balance?

Assign a value to what you're doing:

Start with your rates, but now think of them in hourly terms.  (If you keep no such records, you should start doing so, coming back to this article in a few weeks.)

  • If you're an E-Transcriber and produce 12 pages an hour at $1.50 per page, you make $18 an hour.  That part is simple.  (Don't overestimate your production rate, because you know you don't work at top speed all the time.)

  • E-Reporters, review how many hours you spent garnering your fees.  If you work under a page-rate system, recall that speakers normally churn out about 40 or so pages an hour.
Value what you're NOT doing:

If you work entirely at home, you are not commuting.  Realistically calculate the average time you would travel each day to a downtown work site.  Americans typically spend an unpaid hour and a half getting to and from work each day.  At your hourly production rate, how much is that time worth to you?  Commuter mileage to and from a regular job site is NOT tax deductible, but travel to, between, and from different engagements IS.  And are there parking costs once you get there?

If you work at home, you are probably also saving a bundle on the public business attire required of professionals.  Have you ever added that up?  It may not be an income tax deduction, but it surely is a cost.

What other less frequent, fewer, or lower expenses do you have when compared with an employee's daily physical self-presentation in the outside business world?  And how much preparation time is involved to get that package together five days a week?  Again, at your hourly rate, is that time worth something to you?

Child care costs go without saying, but of course vary — and do not apply to all.  When something does apply, calculate and list it as either a plus factor or a minus factor.  If it has no effect in your situation, cross it off the list.
What about intangibles?

Remember the old saw about knowing the cost of everything, but the value of nothing?  Well, here are some things you may want to try assigning at least some value to:

Working at home, you don't have to deal with a mean boss, do you?  Nosy co-workers aren't wasting your time with gossip and rumors, are they?  There is no cranky customer glaring at you across a counter, is there?  Does any of that ratchet up your estimation?

Now for the expense column on your list:

What do you buy for your business?  This review can be spread over time:  keep a note pad handy, and as things come to mind, jot them down.  The list may well grow longer than you might expect.

Self-employed people bear the full brunt of the 15.3% Social Security tax — but remember, half that amount is lopped off your taxable income.  (And you may be deducting at least a portion of your out-of-pocket health care costs or health insurance.)  Whatever your tax burden is, prorate and add that to your expenses column.  And remember that business-related equipment / software and other purchases are deductible — not exactly dollar for dollar, but with valuable tax implications.

What about fringe benefits you do NOT receive?

While thinking about whether these should be in your calculation, do realize that 40 percent of Americans working outside the home do NOT receive all of "the fringes" — many receive none at all, beyond simple sick leave or minimalist vacations.  Full fringe benefits can add an additional "hidden" 30 percent value to the salary figure on one's pay stub — but be aware that plans and benefits vary widely.

The question of job stability may be a wash, perhaps tilting somewhat toward standard employment — at least wage income produces predictably regular paychecks.  But having a satisfied clientele also contributes to work-related stability for freelancers.  Some people place value on having a fixed-hour work schedule; others hate feeling they are "tied to a clock."  In any case, the economy is in flux for everyone, and "job security" is becoming more and more illusory.

—William E. Wagner, CET (Washington)

Adding or subtracting the values obtained in this exercise will bring you to a bottom line.  Look at it afresh from time to time.  It may be a larger number than you thought.



AAERT     AAERT     Return to Top     AAERT     AAERT



Continuing Education — an opening door

All groups which issue and maintain professional certifications eventually must address questions about continuing education, or CE:  Is it important? Should we pursue it? Should it be required?
If so, when, what, how?

Some are easily answered:

  • Yes, CE is important;
  • Yes, it should be required.

Earning certification, in and of itself, is a badge of accomplishment.  If you think of it as a laurel wreath awarded for running a race in a prescribed time, an old phrase will take on new meaning here:  remember that people who sit on their laurels are wearing them in the wrong place.

If the certification is to retain its value, so it continues to be recognized by others as a index of skills and knowledge, those holding it must continue to explore, learn, and develop.  E-Reporting is an evolving field.  We either continue to grow with it, or we become outdated, stunted in yesterday's information.

Recall another well-known phrase:  If not now . . . well, when?
We believe AAERT must begin its long-contemplated CE program this year. Thus, CE will be inaugurated at 2007's Conference in Miami Beach this June.

What will it initially consist of?
For this first outing, a sign-in sheet will be present at each substantive Conference seminar / presentation.  Our membership database is already geared to register attendance and participation in these events.  The eventual number of CE credits to be assigned to each element will be weighed and decided in due course.  It goes without saying that other avenues for earning CE credits will be made available as, together, we develop our CE system.
An invitation for dialogue:

Many decisions remain to be made, and your input is vital.
After all, you hold the certifications, and your interests are best served when the program we share is held in high regard.

CE does not have to be an onerous set of chores, but its elements can be very interesting, and even fun to engage in.  That being understood, we can proceed to develop our program.

What should we include?  How many credits should be assigned, and over what time period should we acquire them?  With whom might we share reciprocal credits?

During the next weeks and months we can register our ideas, our preferences, and even our specific suggestions.  Send your comments to  Please use Continuing Education or just CE in the subject line, so we can keep the information together.  We can then post these remarks in our website's members area for mutual review.

This is a significant development for AAERT, but an undertaking which will benefit us all for many years to come.  We very much look forward to hearing from each and every certified member — as well as those now working in that direction, who will gain certification in the future.


Best wishes from your Board:

Gillian Lawrence,  CERT, President

Kimberly McCright-Young,  CET**D, Vice-President

Sherry Simmons,  CER, Secretary

William E. Wagner,  CET, Treasurer

Janet Harris,  CERT, Director

Luis Gomez,  CCV, Director

Margaret Morgan,  CERT, Director



AAERT     AAERT     Return to Top     AAERT     AAERT



President's Message:
Put one foot in front of the other . . .
If you fall down, get back up and put one foot in front of the other.  Once you've got that down, everything else falls into place. And that's what a lot of people are doing in my neighborhood here in Central Florida after the devastating tornados last week. Last Friday when I looked out the bay window in my kitchen — the screen room around the pool was being severely threatened by a storm and the trees behind the fence were shaking with the fury we had seen during recent hurricanes — I was reminded of the fear evoked by the warning sirens when we lived in Tornado Alley. Of course, I thought we had left Texas and the Midwest for Hurricane Territory — didn't know we would have the privilege of both, living in Florida. We also lived in California and have lived with the nagging fear of earthquakes that could hit at any time. Can we prepare for all of these unmanageable forces? No. Can a certain element of preparation make the aftermath more manageable? Yes.

It's a known fact, but an oft forgotten one, that we're not in complete control of our circumstances. Always be prepared for circumstances to change. Are you continually increasing your technical skills as a court reporter? Are you constantly educating yourself? Are you investing your knowledge in others and thereby assuring a professional posterity? Do you have an organization ready to handle growth — whether you're a transcription company with sudden growth because of a large contract or whether you work for a court in a high-growth population where hundreds of new families move into the area every day? If you're a contractor, do you have a backup plan for work in new venues if you lose a contract? Or if a government employee, what is your plan if suddenly the courts use contractors instead of employees? AAERT's Board has been planning and managing the growth in our association, but also considering the future requirements of employers of AAERT-certified individuals.

Do you believe that at any given time we may be called upon to rebuild or start something new? Has experience fooled you into thinking things will always be the same? Margaret Morgan is the Membership Committee Co-Chair. Her message to you is that we are a membership-driven organization. Go out and build this association. Start new projects and ideas to grow our membership. It is very important that we include people from various positions and capacities within our industry — reporter, monitor, transcriber, freelance, official, private, government, employee, business owner, etc. The membership must be reflective of each geographic section of the United States. If you follow some of Margaret's instructions, you may become exposed to new thoughts and ideas foreign to your own:— schedule a lunch or dinner meeting with local E-Reporters and E-Transcribers in your area to talk about local issues. Include information about AAERT. Send conference information to reporters and transcribers and court administration.
Write letters to court administrators, telling them about AAERT and our comprehensive certification tests. Many people are not aware that our association exists. Write letters to ask to make a presentation to a legal secretary or paralegal association. With AAERT certification, you could inspire a legal assistant or paralegal to obtain AAERT certification and join the E-Reporting world. In short, the more representation our organization has of various e-reporting professionals, the better we can provide help to our members. During my association with AAERT professionals I have regularly come upon ideas foreign to my own. Some I have adopted, some not, but it's always been a learning experience.

It's senseless to acquire knowledge and render opinions, and yet not be prepared. How will AAERT be prepared for the future? We have a highly successful certification testing program to certify those practicing in the field of electronic court reporting and transcribing. Now, the vision of Mary Ann Lutz, Past President, has turned into reality as she prepares students in her training seminars provided by Lutz Corporation, Inc. Also, the Board met for a mid-year meeting and has decided to implement the long-anticipated continuing education program, beginning at Convention 2007. AAERT Certified Members will begin earning credits, and the Official CE Program will be unveiled. AAERT needs to be prepared to meet the needs and demands of the industry. You need to be prepared to be an active professional in tomorrow's world.

Are you assuming your current skill and knowledge level will let you slide into retirement until you no longer need or want to work? Or are you constantly staying on top of what is going on in the court reporting profession and staying abreast of new technology to help guarantee your future and the future of the profession? Are you going to acquire and perfect skills in order to secure your future?

My 22-year-old son and I went to lunch the other day and he said, "Mom, I always thought you transcribed so you could work at home and be with us, but I never thought you'd still be doing this!" I was always the "typing mom" in the corner of the room for the school children to stand around and say, "Wow, she types so fast!" My boys' friends always were sure to let me know when they had finally learned how to type or were typing "really fast now." And my answer to Jesse? "Yeah, me too."

But you never know what happens when you put one foot in front of the other. And when you fall down, get back up and put one foot in front of the other again.

Convention 2007 is in Miami Beach June 24 – 26. Come explore the tried, the true, the trends, and the technologies for the Professional Reporter and Transcriber.

Gillian Lawrence, FPR, CERT
AAERT President



AAERT     AAERT     Return to Top     AAERT     AAERT



  The Nature of Words:   unraveling a medical mystery

A friend is diagnosed as having idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, with reddish-purple spots appearing on her skin.  What in the world might this be?

Idiopathic is derived from the Greek idio-, meaning peculiarPeculiar comes to us by way of the Latin peculiaris, one's own property — a derivation from pecu, flock. Similarly related are pecuniary (of property or wealth), impecunious (flat broke, without flocks or herds), and peculation (embezzling funds).  An idiom is a generally localized style of speaking or use of language; a peculiar use of language, if you will. The suffix -pathic comes from the Greek pátheia: suffering or feeling. (See also sympathy, empathy, apathy, pathology.)  Thus, an idiopathic disorder arises from within, actual cause unknown.

Thrombocytopenic also comes to us from the Greek thrombo- for clot and cyte for cell (from kyto, a container).  A thrombocyte is a platelet, a cell which causes blood to clot — and, not surprisingly, is shaped like a small plate (related to Greek platys, flat or broad). The suffix -penic is from penia, poverty or lack; related is penury, extreme poverty or destitution.

Purpura is the appearance of purple or reddish spots on skin due to extravasation, blood escaping from vessels beneath the skin.  It comes from the Latin purpura, a tiny shellfish from which purple dye was first extracted. The sheer volume of creatures needed to make the dye restricted this color to royalty or the very wealthy — thus the phrase "born to the purple."

The Greek word for this colorful shellfish is porphura, from which come porphyry, a purplish stone, as well as porphyria, a disorder involving the blood pigment heme (which caused the madness of King George, our foe in the Revolution).  Heme is from the Greek haima, blood.  Hematology is, thus, the study of blood — and now I understand that my friend suffers from a disorder of unknown cause, wherein her blood doesn't clot properly.

Laurel H. Stoddard, CET (Texas)
On The Record Reporting & Transcription, Inc.




AAERT     AAERT     Return to Top     AAERT     AAERT



  A reminder:  Pengad offers a significant membership benefit

We receive their lowest catalog pricing on most court reporting supplies, regardless of quantity.
This means we do not have to buy in bulk to save.

Just identify yourself as an AAERT member when ordering, and you automatically receive this consideration on your purchases of

  • Transcript covers

  • Laser supplies

  • Data accessories

  • Stock forms

  • Mailing supplies

  • Index tabs, and much more.

800 631-6989   —   fax 800 631-2329

Note:   Promotional items, billheads / invoices, business cards, flat or raised print stationery, and printed mailing envelopes are not included in this benefit.



AAERT     AAERT     Return to Top     AAERT     AAERT



Product Overview:

Travelers, lost in the boondocks, stop to ask directions from a farmer. The man thinks awhile, scratches his head, and says, "Well, you can't get there from here."

Vaguely familiar? Those of us who regularly — or even occasionally — venture onto "the information highway" to transmit audio files, transcripts, or exhibit images to and fro between various courts, clients, and associates, often feel a bit lost, ourselves.  Or perhaps overwhelmed by the bells and whistles — not to mention roadblocks, detours, one-way streets, dead ends, and bumpy stretches along the way.  Especially when you consider our important goals:  getting materials into the proper hands easily and safely.

SendThisFile is an Internet transfer system which puts many of these chores almost on auto-pilot.  (Clearly, a design goal was to keep things simple, yet retain versatility.A nice point:  SendThisFile can host your transfer page for you, or you can put the transfer page on your own company website.  Then use any browser on any computer anywhere, anytime, to send audio, video, documents, graphics — no additional software needed.

So how does it work?  Transfer occurs when you provide the recipient's e-mail address, list the files you wish sent there, and click the SendThisFile button.  (Note:  a lengthy list of audio files can be "zipped" for easier identification.)

The files are, of course, encrypted for safety, and stored for as long as needed.  Another nice point:  put an end to file management headaches by ordering auto-deletion after X days, or after Y downloads have occurred.

The recipient gets an e-mail message with whatever information you need to convey, plus a hot-link for downloading — and you can choose to be notified when the download has occurred.  There's even a progress bar so people can see how things are going.  Couldn't be a simpler or a smoother ride, directly to your destination!

Sample customizable upload screen.

Contact Enterprise Sales for further information, or call (316) 974-0123.        



AAERT     AAERT     Return to Top     AAERT     AAERT



Training seminars:   filling a long-standing need

In February 2007, Mary Ann Lutz, CERT, begins teaching seminars for E-Reporters and E-Transcribers.  The initial group is meeting in Monrovia, California, where Lutz & Company has its office.

The seminars will cover principles of analog / digital audio capture, retention, retrieval, and subsequent transcription.  After the training, those eligible to do so may take AAERT's certification tests.

A two-day seminar (June 22 and 23) is scheduled immediately prior to our 2007 Conference in Miami Beach, and subsequent certification testing will occur on Sunday, June 24.

For more specific information, or to arrange for a seminar in your area, contact

Mary Ann served as AAERT's president from 2000 to 2002.



AAERT     AAERT     Return to Top     AAERT     AAERT



Click  here  to see what's in the works for our 2007 meeting,
to view our lovely hotel, and to register to attend

We can all share in the planning!  Agenda items will include:

  • Electronic Reporting Technology

  • Gaining Expertise in Microsoft Word

  • Transcript Grammar and Punctuation Issues

  • Good Health and Nutrition for Busy Reporters

  • Professional Attire at a Reasonable Cost

  • What Your Appearance Says About You
Help plan by submitting any transcript grammar / punctuation issues you find of interest or would like us to consider, to: Bill Wagner.

Submit Word-related questions / problems / topic areas to: Margaret Morgan.

A fun raffle will benefit our Education Fund; submit ideas or items for this event to Sherry Simmons.



AAERT     AAERT     Return to Top     AAERT     AAERT


Certified Electronic Court Reporter
Certified Electronic Court Transcriber

Nomination period concludes March 9, 2007.
Award recipients will be notified prior to April 1, 2007, and each will receive:

A one-year general AAERT membership,
Hotel accommodation and registration during our 14th Annual Conference
in Miami Beach, June 24 - 26, 2007,
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:

AAERT Awards
23812 Rock Circle
Bothell, Washington   98021-8573



AAERT     AAERT     Return to Top     AAERT     AAERT



Newly Certified Members, Fall 2007

The fall cycle of AAERT's ongoing certification program was held in Bothell, Washington, Phoenix, Arizona,
and in three Florida cities:  Gainesville, Orlando, and West Palm Beach.

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

Margaret Frances Archibeque, CET**DAvondale, Arizona
Shanna Barr, CET**DRedmond, Washington
Beth V. Betker, CET**DSeattle, Washington
Tammy Elaine Crawford, CER**DLawley, Florida
Nancy B. Draper, CET**DGlendale, Arizona
Lawrence V. Evans, CER**DTarpon Springs, Florida
Jennifer A. Farrington, CER**DSanford, Florida
Matthew Ray Ginther, CET**DKirkland, Washington
Marion D. Griffin, CET**DTacoma, Washington
Carole Lynn Hildebrand, CET**DTucson, Arizona
Marjorie D. Jackson, CET**DSeattle, Washington
Renee A. Johnally, CER**DWest Palm Beach, Florida
Debra Ann Kalgren, CET**DEverett, Washington
Laura Michelle Lewis, CET**DStarke, Florida
Lindsay A. Loomis, CER**DOrlando, Florida
Jodi Lyn Marasia, CERT*DViera, Florida
Katny R. Mitton, CER**DOrlando, Florida
Pamela Nancy Morales, CET**DChandler, Arizona
Patricia M. Noelle, CET**DBuckeye, Arizona
Lisa Marie Ramey, CER**DOrlando, Florida
Kelli Ray, CER**DSanford, Florida
Bonnie Reed, CET**DSeattle, Washington
Vanessa Ileana Sagar, CERT*DAlachua, Florida
Cherie L. Schierl, CET**DFlagstaff, Arizona
Rebecca A. Stevens, CER**DViera, Florida


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

A general discussion of the program is at
Certification Testing.



AAERT     AAERT     Return to Top     AAERT     AAERT



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

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


Tama Brisbane
House of Scribes
Stockton, California


Deborah Armstrong
        Kissimmee, Florida
Jessica Balderas Cahill
        Wailuku, Hawaii
Terry Carter
        Michigan Center, Michigan
Karen Caruana
        Middle Village, New York
Claudia M. Dobson-Largie
        Abingdon, Maryland
Marta Felix
        Pasadena, California
Judy M. Fugate
        Saint Cloud, Minnesota
Crystal Gavidia
        Wilmington, Delaware
Brenda Grimes
        Fort Myers, Florida
Donna Schenck Healy
        Orange Park, Florida
Joan Laura Lynch
        Auburn, California
Elizabeth Marie Magana
        Downey, California
Edward J. Meunier
        Plantation, Florida
Cynthia Lynette Mizell
        Los Angeles, California

Rebecca Y. Natal
        Rutherford, New Jersey
Martha Lee Nelson
        South Pasadena, California
Troy Anthony Ray
        Arcadia, California
Sally Reidy
        Wimberley, Texas
Shari Riemer
        Staten Island, New York
Victoria F. Shobe
        Burbank, California
Sheryl J. Smith
        Providence, North Carolina
Rebecca A. Stevens
        Viera, Florida
Donna J. Stewart
        Lakeland, Florida
Betty S. Tate
        Plano, Texas
Scot A. Votava
        Viera, Florida
JegaJothy Vythilingam
        Lanham, Maryland
Carolyn P. Walker
        Fort Worth, Texas
Angela Gray Weil
        Brentwood, Tennessee
Teri Rae Welsh Gould
        Lexington, Nebraska
Karen Wheeler
        Seattle, Washington

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.   © 2007.

Gillian Lawrence, CERT, President

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





Association Management Software Powered by YourMembership  ::  Legal