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The Court Reporter Fall/Winter 2006
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For Professionals in Electronic / Digital Court Technology

Volume 11, Number 4, Fall / Winter 2006 . . .


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

Each sound — a voice, a footstep, wind in dry grass —  

leaves a distinctive signature forever its own. 






        Good news from the Garden State
New Jersey recognizes AAERT-certified CETs
At the March 8, 2006 meeting of the New Jersey Transcriber Certification Board I made a request that the Board address the issue of New Jersey approved transcription agencies being allowed to use transcribers who have been certified by AAERT.  New Jersey currently has an in-state transcription process whereby any individual wishing to transcribe for the New Jersey court system must sit for a written and practical examination.

Individuals currently certified to transcribe in New Jersey fall under one of three different designations: (1) AD/T – a certified transcriber who is also an agency director or owner, (2) OM/T – a certified transcriber who has been designated as an office manager to oversee all aspects of transcript production by an agency owner who is not certified to transcribe, or (3) T – a certified transcriber who subcontracts with an approved transcription agency.

Since most AAERT certified transcribers cannot travel to New Jersey to sit for the test, I made the argument that the AAERT certification test is much more difficult than the New Jersey test and meets or exceeds all aspects of the New Jersey requirements.  To compensate for the lack of "New Jersey specific" information on the AAERT test, I recommended that AAERT-certified transcribers be allowed to secure work only through approved New Jersey transcription firms.  It is then incumbent on the New Jersey firm to ensure that the transcripts follow New Jersey standards and formats.
On August 2, 2006, the Transcriber Certification Board approved my recommendations and amended the Standards for Certification to include a new designation, AAERT-T.  AAERT-certified transcribers may now apply for New Jersey certification but must do so through a New Jersey certified transcription firm.  Further, they may only work through one New Jersey agency.  Applicants will be subject to reference and background checks similar to what New Jersey based transcribers must go through when sitting for the New Jersey test.

For those interested in becoming certified in New Jersey, a listing of New Jersey approved transcription firms may be found by going to the state's Judiciary website at and then selecting the Appellate Division from the left-hand column.

Jim Bowen,  CER
    J & J Court Transcribers
    Hamilton, New Jersey



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Will Texas judges get the right to choose
the reporting methods
for their courts?
An inquiry on whether to revise anachronistic restrictions on E-Reporting in Texas courtrooms has come before the state Senate Jurisprudence Committee.  As the legislature was to be in recess, this matter was referred as an "Interim Charge 3" for the Committee to investigate and report findings.  The results, due December 1, will give a strong indication whether Texas judges will be free to choose among the various reporting methods.

The Charge specifically reads: "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."

AAERT provided the Committee with information and a position statement supporting the idea that judges may well know what works best in their own jurisdictions and circumstances.  A number of AAERT members, both inside Texas and elsewhere, also registered their views.  Thank you to all!

Judge John Delaney, who served on the Brazos, Texas, bench and is a Senior District Judge, knows firsthand how E-Reporting can benefit the judicial process.  He personally appeared before the Committee in late August to testify, and submitted a cogent recap of the major studies and pilot programs conducted for well over a decade now, which have demonstrated the value of E-Reporting.

Indeed, a review in the Texas Bar Journal concluded that the current outmoded system "operates as an impediment to those judges who may wish to try electronic recording."
Judge Delaney's written remarks are instructive and well worth reading in their entirety at J. Delaney, 9 Sep 2006, and we invite you to do so.

Some concern has been voiced whether judges might be pressured into selecting less expensive methods, due to well known budgetary issues throughout all state government.  AAERT believes this will not prove to be the case, and that Texas judges can be trusted to make these choices in the best interests of all, as judges do every day in so many other jurisdictions nationwide.

One Committee member was heard to remark that he might not support judicial choice because a relative of his, a Stenographic court reporter, might lose her job — a rather remarkable remark.  It is highly unlikely practicing Stenographic court reporters will become unemployable, given the well documented shortages in that segment of the industry.

When Interim Charge 3 is acted upon — (and, we assume, E-Reporting takes its rightful place in Texas as it should, as elsewhere, as a standard option in preserving the record) — we will continue this article.

Meanwhile, a delicious irony:

The Committee considering whether it's a good idea to electronically record critical official matters is itself electronically recorded!

Judge Delaney's and other witness' presentations can be heard at Senate Jurisprudence Committee — select the August 22, 2006 file.



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Minnesota:   Olmsted courtrooms go digital

"The seconds tick away on a large digital clock now sitting in the front of an Olmsted County courtroom.  To the casual observer, it is just a way to keep track of the time.  Those working there, however, know it's part of the new digital court recording system . . . ," wrote The Rochester Post-Bulletin [7 October 2006].

In mid-September, the county, just southeast of Minneapolis, had completed this major upgrade.  What do its users think about it, now that it's fully operational?  Post-Bulletin staff inquired, and found out.

"The quality is phenomenal.  The whole sound system is better," says Margaret Morgan, CERT, electronic court reporter for Judge Jodi Williamson.  She is one of six reporters employed in the Olmsted County system:  three (now digital) E-Reporters, and three Stenograph machine reporters.  Margaret is a member of AAERT and serves on its board of directors.

She said the shift to electronic recording is controversial in some areas of the country:  "A lot of people think it is replacing a court reporter position, but we still have a live reporter in the courtroom."  She could have added, "And that live reporter is ME!"

One of the three stenographic reporters, Yvonne Holthaus, has been with the county for more than twenty-five years.  Today she reports using her Stenograph machine about half the time — otherwise, she is using the new digital recording equipment.

Either way, "Our role is to capture the record," Morgan said.  "There are many benefits to both types of court reporters."  Both have the goal of getting, and keeping, an accurate and complete record of court proceedings.

The Post-Bulletin concluded:

"Morgan is enthusiastic about the digital court recording system for a variety of reasons.  One is the quality of the sound.  Another is the instant retrievability of information because everything is time-stamped.  She no longer has to search through a tape if a replay of a particular portion of a hearing is requested by an attorney, for instance.  She just has to 'point and click.'"



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President's Message:
Leadership in a changing world
Despite the fact that everything changes, this concept is neither new nor novel:  AAERT is one of the leadership teams directing the court reporting profession.  In a few brief decades court reporting (capturing and converting the spoken word) has evolved across all methods — electronic, voice, and stenography.  Electronic court reporting, once dependent upon analog cassette recorders, typewriters, carbon paper, and the U.S. Postal Service, now uses digital recording systems (site-specific or centralized), and transcribers are downloading audio off the Internet and even producing daily copy for required proceedings.  Voice-writers, once recognized by their large cone-shaped masks repeating the court record into an analog cassette recorder, now utilize speech recognition software and computer-aided transcription software to speak into a much smaller mask and convert the reporter's spoken word to text.  The technical components make real-time transcript production possible.  Pen-writing has evolved to machine shorthand, and with the use of computer-aided transcription software, real-time transcript production is possible.

There are differences in technologies and agendas across the gamut of court reporting, but one thing the national and state associations of all methods do agree upon is that certification is essential in order to perform our professional leadership duty of being the Guardians of the Record.  I believe the immediate challenges for the court reporting profession are:  court reporter certification is not required in all states and some courts are producing audio recordings but outsourcing the transcription to uncertified court reporters or transcribers.  We are not doing our job as Guardians of the Record if we allow these practices to continue without speaking out.

How should AAERT start providing solutions?

  • Members should all become certified.
  • Member companies and managers should require all court reporters become certified.
  • Each of us should educate our state's Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) or State Legislature regarding the importance of court reporter certification, whatever the method.
  • AAERT needs to help create educational opportunities for non-certified E-Reporters and E-Transcribers to become certified.

The best part is that AAERT is already doing all of these things!  When you're ready to start, give me a call and I'll point you to someone who is already doing it!
Over the last three years we have seen a doubling in the number of members sitting for the certification tests.  Two circuits in Florida now require E-Reporters (there called "digital court reporters") to obtain AAERT certification (contact Steve Simon, CERT, Certification Committee chair, for more information).  Many members communicate regularly with their State AOC.  Sherry Simmons, CER, is once again heading up the Raffle Fundraiser for our Education Fund (be sure to contact Sherry and participate).

Having just returned from the Indiana Shorthand Reporters Association (ISRA), Gail Malm Armstrong, CERT (Indiana), and I are excited to report a group of professional reporters who are intent on requiring certification of all reporters, whatever the method, in the State of Indiana.  Of the approximately 900 official reporters in Indiana, 600 are electronic.  ISRA has requested AAERT to provide certification testing for E-Reporters twice a year to coincide with NCRA testing dates.  AAERT will provide the testing and will pursue methods of providing educational seminars to the E-Reporters in Indiana to prepare them for the test.

I'll end where I began:  we are providing leadership in a changing world.  Some of our current methods and practices will give way to new ones, but we still have standards, practices and decorum — we are a rather traditional lot, to say the least. We represent the best practices of E-Reporting in the United States.  Recently, I had a voice-writer from Australia express dissatisfaction with our website's representation of E-Reporting being the only method to preserve the original spoken words; preserve foreign language speakers' original language and interpreter's translation; reveal speakers' intonations, emotions, accents, speed and manner of delivery; and accommodate simultaneous speech.  He was proud of his technical ability to play his back-up recorded "room audio" and, therefore, has all of these abilities.  I explained to him that he was not representing U.S. practices, and if the associations for the other methods decide to include audio recordings as part of their official records, then we could change our professional statements. 

On behalf of the AAERT Board
(Janet, Kimberly, Luis, Margaret, Sherry, and William)

Gillian Lawrence,  CERT
AAERT President



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  The Nature of Words

I particularly enjoy the opportunity to write this column because it allows me to take time to follow threads of wonder that frequently weave themselves through my thoughts.

Recently I commented on a friend's perspicacity, and she asked for a quick definition.  I said discernment.  Looking in Webster's Unabridged, I find that perspicacity and the word immediately below it, perspicuity, both refer to looking or seeing through, from the Latin per+spicere (or specere).  Perspicuity is the quality of being clear or lucid.

Other more common words related to looking are despicable, something looked down upon; respectable, something which at least looks good; prospective, forward looking; and spectacles, things which either improve vision or are really something to see.

Wandering, as is my wont, back to discernment, I find it comes from the Latin dis+cernere, to separate. To discern is to discriminate or to distinguishDistinguish, from the Latin dis+stingere, to mark out or mark by pricking, is closely related to instinct, from in+stingere, a prompting or pricking of the senses.

And now I've worked us around to that familiar quote from Macbeth, Act IV, Scene I:   "By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes." (In ancient Rome a pricking sensation of the thumbs was an omen of evil.)

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




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  Interactive Quick-Quiza puzzle

Taking cues from the clues you'll find by clicking here, unscramble the words in this puzzle.
Solutions are right on line, so you'll know instantly (yet privately) how well you decipher them — all involved in the legal arena.

Take the Quick-Quiz now.



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  Transcripts Made Easy

Clare Kennedy
     The Kenson Company (Oregon)

One of the great things about WordPerfect, whether for DOS or Windows, is the extent to which it can be automated.  It's just so easy to take the work out of repetitive tasks.  This not only saves hours of valuable time, it also reduces typing and formatting errors.  Have you ever started a transcript by calling up a previous deposition and changing the information, only to notice after delivery that some of the previous information remained?  The method of automation I'm going to describe will take care of that problem.

WordPerfect provides several automation methods, so you can take your choice — macros, QuickWords, QuickCorrect — and make your life much easier!

For repetitive words, such as difficult names or medical terms, I usually choose QuickCorrect as an easy-to-use "shorthand." For everything else, I always use a macro, and that's what this article is really about.  I'll show you how to save lots of transcript typing time using the easy, flexible macro feature in the world's most powerful word processor, WordPerfect!

Macros, like documents, come in many shapes and sizes.  To illustrate their use, let's start with the most common repetitive typing task and move from there to progressively more complex time-savers, keeping in mind that the things which require more setup time also save you more time and effort in the long run.

Q and A.  Can you think of anything you type more often as a court reporter?  There's a regular rhythm to it — Hard return, Q, hard left indent.  Or, hard return, Q, tab.  Or, hard return, tab, Q, space-space.  Over and over, sometimes with a Q, sometimes with an A.  Regardless of exactly how you type your Q / A format, if you had a nickel for every time you type it, you could retire in style! Next time you find yourself ready to type that familiar rhythm, first click on Tools > Macro > Record (or press Ctrl+F10), type the filename "Question," then type your hard return, Q, hard left indent (or whatever your own specific format may be).  Then click on the little black square that has appeared just above your screen, on the left, to stop recording.

Now for the really helpful trick:  You'll want to "attach" your question macro to a shortcut key: just click on Tools > Settings > Customize > Keyboards > Edit.  In the left-hand box you'll see a long list of keystroke combinations.  I use Q+Alt, but you can highlight any combination you choose.  Then click on the Macros tab on the right, and click on Assign Macro to Key.  Your macro file list appears.  Highlight your Question macro and click on Select.  When it asks if you want to save with the complete filename, click on No.  Then click on OK.

Try it out:  type Alt+Q.  As a popular office supply store says, That was easy!  And you can repeat it to create an Answer macro, which can be attached to A+Alt.

Okay, so far so good. You've passed Macros 101. Let's move up one notch.

Let's say you're typing many depositions for an attorney named Dyfivkatovszki — an interesting name, but not much fun to type.  So click on Tools > Macro > Record (or press Ctrl+F10), type a macro filename (I use Atty1), then type "MR. DYFIVKATOVSZKI: " (or however you type your colloquy) and click on the little black square.

Then attach your Atty1 macro to a keystroke combination as described above. (I use 1+Alt.)  Try it out.  Wasn't that easy?

But what if Mr. Dyfivkatovszki isn't involved in your next transcript?  Well, of course you can create a completely new macro and attach it to a different key.  Or, you might choose simply to edit Atty1; if so, click on Tools > Macro > Edit, highlight Atty1, and click on Edit.  The macro appears on your screen.  Change the attorney's name as desired.  When you're done, click on the Save and Compile button just above the screen. When that button grays out, close the macro document.  Now press Alt+1, and the new attorney name will appear.  "That was easy!"  And you have just passed Macros 102!

The best part of WordPerfect automation is yet to come.  If you'll automate the form you use when you begin a transcript, you'll wish you had done it years ago.  Trust me, it's really much easier than the number of words below would seem to indicate.

First, open the form you use to begin a transcript.  If it's an old complete transcript, delete everything from the point where you normally begin typing, then save the file with a new name, such as "Depform."

Go through the form and delete all "variable" information, marking with an asterisk each place where a deletion occurred.  An example of "variable" information would be the case number, the names of plaintiff and defendant, and in some cases even the county or township.  When you've finished cleaning out the old variables, move your cursor to the top of the form.

Click on Tools > Merge > Form Document > Create Form Document > Use File in Active Window > No Association > OK.  Close the Merge dialog box.  A Merge toolbar has now appeared just above your screen.

Delete the first asterisk.  On the Merge toolbar, click on Insert Merge Code, Keyboard.  Enter a brief prompt that will remind you of the variable information to be typed when you use the form.  Click on OK.

Continue moving through the form, placing the Keyboard code at the point of each asterisk and typing a brief prompt.  Don't worry if the formatting looks crowded, it will straighten out when you perform the merge.  Just persevere to the end of the form.  Here is an example of what the top portion of the cover page might look like (with double-spacing removed to save space below):

Save your completed form. You'll notice that WordPerfect now gives it a .frm extension.

A last word about codes:  I strongly recommend that you turn on Reveal Codes (Alt+F3) and check your Depform.frm for any unnecessary codes that may have crept in, such as an unneeded [Left Tab], [Dorm HRt], or any other codes that serve no purpose.  Remove any long strings of [HRt] codes that may have been used to induce WordPerfect to begin a new page, and replace them with [HPg] (Ctrl+Enter).  Also, remove strings of spaces and replace them with [Left Tab], [Hard Center on Margin] (Shift+F7), or [Hard Flush Right] (Alt+F7).  Save your completed form again, and clear your screen.

Now test your new merge form.  Click on Tools > Merge > Form Document > File on Disk.  Highlight Depform.frm. Click on Select.  Click on Merge.  A prompt appears.  Type the information, and click on the Continue button just above the screen.  Continue through the merge until the Merge toolbar disappears, which will occur when you press the Continue button one last time.  Then save the document, and you're ready to start typing your transcript!  See?  "That was easy!"

* * *
Editor's Correction:  Vol. 11, No. 3 referred to a proposal to make Microsoft Word an exclusive program accepted by the Supreme Court — however, that anticipated rule change has NOT, in fact, been implemented, and the comment is withdrawn.



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Product Preview:
FTR ReporterDeckTM 2
Courts graced with far-seeing staff who were savvy and "audio literate" in the '80s (or even '90s), when Sony BM-246s (or Laniers or . . .) were actually cutting-edge, now find themselves needing to install more efficient digital systems.

Alas, a parting of ways with comfortable gear which has served well over time may seem hard, but is necessary, lest obsolescence creep in and you lose the edge — so, what to do now?

FTR suggests ReporterDeck 2.  It is built in partnership with Marantz Professional, a manufacturer of sterling reputation which has thoughtfully maintained the familiarity of tape recorder-style controls while incorporating sophisticated digital features such as:
  • either 2- or 4-channel recording

  • playback from the unit's hard drive, archived CD, or network folder (with separate PC)

  • concurrent recording / playback

  • archiving to CD or network

  • time-stamped notes keyed to audio via TheRecord Annotator

  • can be connected to other audio devices.

The package includes:

  • ReporterDeck 2

  • TheRecord Annotator

  • TheRecord Replicator

  • TheRecord Player

  • FTR headset

  • 5-pack of TheRecord Collection CDs.
A transition from analog to digital does NOT have to be a stressed-out, traumatic, staff-exhausting experience!  In short order, those who spoke fondly of their "tape decks" will begin speaking likewise of their "reporter decks."

NB to court administrators:  you may want to view the well-presented PDF Users Manual by registering for the free, no-obligation download here.



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AAERT's Miami Beach Conference will include a Silent Auction and 50 / 50 Raffle to help support our Education Fund.  If you attended the 12th Conference in Arlington, Virginia, you will remember how much fun that was! For those unable to attend then, here's how things work:

The Raffle:  Donated items are placed on a table.  We buy tickets, like ones we bought at a carnival to ride the rides.  During the conference, whatever item(s) you would love to win, you place half of your ticket(s) in the container provided for that item.  The winner of each is announced at the Banquet as the winning ticket is picked.

The 50 / 50 works in a similar manner as the auction, in that we buy tickets.  We place half of the ticket in the designated container, and we keep the other half. At the banquet, the winning ticket is drawn. The winner receives half the money that was gathered from ticket sales.  The other half goes directly into the Education Fund.

I am asking for your help this year to make this auction bigger and better than the previous one. We need items donated, such as gift cards / certificates to retail establishments and restaurants that can be found throughout the United States, handmade items, items that can travel well, since we'll be coming from all over to attend this Conference. It would be fun to have items relating to the state or country you hail from — a certain food or food product, T-shirts, books. Use your imagination!

I will need to know what items are being donated no later than May 1st. Please e-mail me with any questions you may have, and to let me know what item(s) you are donating. I always welcome HELP with open arms!

Sherry Simmons,  CER
Wilmington, Delaware

The Conference agenda, presentation topics, and speakers will appear on line in due course.
Think now about meeting with us next June!



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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



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

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


Lawrence N. Pellerito
Phoenix, Arizona

Ann Bonnette Smith
Huntington Court Reporters & Transcription, Inc.
Pasadena, California

Lisa P. Campbell
One Stop Legal
Hyattsville, Maryland


Margaret Frances Archibeque
        Avondale, Arizona
Gloria J. Banks
        Whitesboro, New Jersey
Miguel Baque
        West Palm Beach, Florida
Shanna Barr
        Redmond, Washington
Judy Barrett
        Santa Fe, New Mexico
Jeanette Marie Bates
        Plantation Key, Florida
Amy Rochelle Blumberg
        Aliso Viejo, California
Thelma Braithwaite
        Orlando, Florida
Monica Brooks
        Phoenix, Arizona
Amie M. Carney
        Sebring, Florida
Rhoda Collins
        Rochester, New York
Joyce Dennehy
        Las Vegas, Nevada
Nancy B. Draper
        Glendale, Arizona
Matthew Ray Ginther
        Kirkland, Washington
Linda Goodman
        West Palm Beach, Florida

Carlotta A. Hall
        Dallas, Oregon
Claudia M. Hutchison
        Little Mountain, South Carolina
Debra Ann Kallgren
        Everett, Washington
Lora Michelle Lewis
        Starke, Florida
Bonita Marie Lumsden
        Firestone, Colorado
Amy Marois
        Tempe, Arizona
Terry Masciola
        Phoenix, Arizona
Anna-Luise E. McGaughy
        York, Pennsylvania
Kathy R. Mitton
        Orlando, Florida
Pamela Nancy Morales
        Chandler, Arizona
Frances M. Murphy
        Orlando, Florida
Jessica L. Natale
        Poughkeepsie, New York
Judy C. Newman
        Bedford, Virginia
Tanya M. O'Dea
        Croydon, New South Wales, Australia
Janice Penfield
        Little Britain, Ontario, Canada
Crista Porter
        Orlando, Florida
Mark D. Potter
        San Marcos, California
Denise Sanders
        Phoenix, Arizona
Aleva L. Schneider-Pollard
        Montgomery Village, Maryland
Michelle Lynn Semel
        Orlando, Florida
Mary I. Steinborn
        Lees Summit, Missouri
Carol H. Vendzules
        Monroeville, New Jersey
Beverly T. Walker
        Monroe, Louisiana
Ron P. Wilson
        Kelseyville, California



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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 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.
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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