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The Court Reporter Spring 2010
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For Professionals in Electronic / Digital Court Technology

Volume 15, Number 1 — Spring 2010 . . .



New Jersey law benefits transcription firms 

AAERT responds to COSCA study 


President's Message 

News and opinions . . .

Ask the experts 

The Nature of Words 


Your Association

 AAERT At Sea, 2010:

Schedule / FAQs 

Rates / requirements 

On-board activities 

Sponsorship opportunities 

Cruise Quiz — win a prize! 

Volunteers welcome! 

2010 - 2011 committees and governance 

2010 AAERT Awards 

Newly certified members 

Welcome, new members  

Membership benefits — reminders 




New Jersey law

benefits transcription firms

On January 16, 2010, Acting Governor Stephen Sweeney signed into law Senate Bill S-825, thus ending more than two years of uneasiness among New Jersey transcription firms.  The new provision places an exemption in the state's unemployment law for the professions of Legal Transcribers and Certified Court Reporters when those individuals are paid on a per page or per diem basis.  The statute was further amended to make proof of a federal unemployment exemption unnecessary.

In the summer of 2008, the New Jersey Department of Labor began auditing legal transcription companies with the goal of reclassifying independent contractors as employees.  Using vague case law and the ambiguous "New Jersey ABC Test" (an abbreviated version of the "IRS 20 questions"), transcription firms were assessed penalties and interest over a four-year look-back period — and that amounted to more than $20,000 for some firms.

Because of this financial burden, a meeting was arranged at the request of the transcription firms.  The November 2008 meeting included attendees from the judiciary, Department of Labor, Department of Commerce, and owners of two transcription firms.

We made strong arguments during this meeting that the transcription company / legal transcriber relationship is a clearly defined, long-standing relationship in the court reporting industry.  We further argued that reclassifying these individuals as employees would increase expenses by as much as 15 to 20 percent.  With the New Jersey page rate governed by statute, these new expenses would be onerous enough to force transcription firms out of business.  This last argument enabled us to gain the support of the judiciary in this battle.

Although not convinced by our arguments, the Department of Labor suggested we should work to amend the New Jersey statute governing unemployment exemptions.  The transcription firms pooled their resources and contracted with a lobbying firm to begin the political process of amending the statute.

Our representative began organizing meetings between myself and Labor Committee members in both the Senate and the Assembly.  The legislators quickly understood our concerns and voiced support for our legislation.  We first found success in the Senate, despite persistent opposition from the Department of Labor (yes, the very people who suggested we take this route!).  In May 2009, the Senate Labor Committee approved our bill by a vote of 6 to 0, followed the next month by a 32 to 2 vote before the full Senate.

With a governor's race in full swing, the legislature took a hiatus from July to mid-November.  We were running out of time, as New Jersey's two-year session would end in early January.  Having cleared one chamber of the legislature put us in a good position for the post-election, lame duck session.  Our break came during the first week of January, when our bill was posted to the Assembly Labor Committee agenda on the last scheduled day of its meetings.  The bill passed by a vote of 9 to 0 in committee and, three days later, by a vote of 76 to 0 in the full Assembly.

Needless to say, a great burden has been lifted off the shoulders of New Jersey transcription firms.  And it is also encouraging to know that members of the electronic reporting industry can have a beneficial impact on the legislative process.

James V. Bowen, CER
J & J Court Transcribers, Hamilton, New Jersey




Digital Recording:
Changing Times for Making the Record
Soon after the Conference of State Court Administrators issued its recent report which included an examination of digital court reporting issues, AAERT President Raison expressed our appreciation of and general concurrence with the study's detailed findings.

COSCA responded to and thanked AAERT for our remarks.

AAERT also issued a press release on the subject.
 See theCOSCA Report (PDF)

 Read AAERT's response (PDF).

 COSCA replies to AAERT (PDF).

 AAERT's press release (PDF).




President's Message

We're off to a great start in 2010! Your Board of Directors held its mid-year meeting the weekend of January 16-17, 2010 in Tampa, Florida. Many important industry-specific topics were discussed, and in particular the hopeful June rollout of a series of electronic training video tools designed to further educate our membership on the many facets of the electronic method of taking and producing a record.

The membership asked and AAERT listened. AAERT has been working diligently to develop new opportunities for professional development and training. During our 2010 Conference, you will be the first to see new training materials as well as engage in discussion about meaningful topic areas. The program will be hosted by AAERT Directors Kenneth Kelemen and Christopher Boone, and Certification Chair Tina Schaeffer.

    COSCA examines Electronic Reporting

The Conference of State Court Administrators recently published its in-depth study titled "Digital Recording:  Changing Times for Making the Record."  COSCA recommended that state courts should move to digital recording as the method for making the verbatim record, should develop a comprehensive, strategic plan for digital recording, implement the technology as a method of making the verbatim record, and adopt functional and technical standards to provide guidance, support, and service to judges, attorneys, reporters and recorders, transcriptionists, court staff, and the public.

The release of this report is a monumental leap forward for AAERT because the courts' struggle to produce transcripts in a timely manner has surpassed the critical stage, and now more and more sources are recognizing the value of digital recording as the "judicial future." Significantly, the report notes ". . . electronic recording in the courtroom is not only here to stay, but likely to continue to grow so long as budget constraints plague our legal system." Stay tuned as your Board of Directors moves forward to offer the training and education needed to fulfill the ever changing needs of our court system.

A Canadian member has reached out to the Board, hoping to encourage communication and interaction between AAERT and Canada's Ministry of the Attorney General's "Court Reporting Review Committee." The Committee is tasked with developing a model for digital court reporters and transcribers and to set higher standards for training and certification of electronic reporters and transcribers in Canada.

The nomination period for suggesting our 2010 Reporter of the Year and Transcriber of the Year is open until Monday, March 8, 2010. 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. To nominate a reporter or transcriber, please include the 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.

We will have four Director openings on the Board this year. Nominations should be sent to Margaret Morgan, Board Nominations Committee Chair, at A general election by the membership will be conducted at our Annual Conference on Friday, June 25, 2010.

Our "Ask the Experts" column is designed to answer your frequently asked questions. Submit your questions to, and you might see your question answered and published in our newsletter!

    AAERT at Sea — Conference 2010

Before you know it, AAERT at Sea 2010 will be upon us. Cabin availability is quickly disappearing and soon the event will be completely closed.  March 10th marks the extended cruise reservation deadline (for your $150 per-person refundable deposit).  Please take a few minutes to register for the AAERT at Sea 2010 Conference as soon as possible by visiting our registration page or by calling Shelley Carey toll-free at 1-866-433-8249. The AAERT at Sea 2010 Conference is a great way to earn continuing education units, network with the membership, and certainly to enjoy the luxury of a cruise ship. Please remember that you must also register with AAERT in addition to reserving your cabin on the cruise.

In May, The Court Reporter will give notice of our Annual Business Meeting, with candidates for Board positions and related information.  In the meantime, best wishes!

Randel Raison, CET
        AAERT President





In memoriam

Virginia Niswonger, CERT*D
    1942 - 2009

Diane S. Hebel
    1943 - 2010

A picture — or a recording! — is worth a thousand words

A recent state professional disciplinary hearing included this exchange on the electronically captured record  (emphases added):

Q.   You formed no opinion regarding her credibility, or did you?
A.   No, because I wasn't there.  I did read her deposition testimony, but that's not the same as seeing or hearing her testify.

The International Network to Promote the Rule of Law

addresses "Court Proceedings:  Transitioning to Automated Court Recordings"
— INPROL Consolidated Response 09-004 (20 pages; be patient!)


Impact of budget proposals on state agencies — courts

Des Moines, 28 Jan 2010
"The court is also studying digital audio recording in lieu of court reporters as a way to save money."

Also see:  2010 State of the Judiciary, Iowa, Des Moines Register

NY Times logo

Five Tech Themes for 2010, 1 Jan 2010

Trinidad flag

The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago,

despite decreased funding, gives priority to "further implementation of the use of digital court recording systems to improve the pace of court trials.", Annual Report, 2010 — (a large PDF; be patient!)

Google logo

Google Scholar

quickly find state, federal, and patent law references., 2009


Florida's 18th Circuit — Brevard County

Digital recording software will replace Stenographic court reporters in all proceedings, except felony trials and capital case hearings., 4 February 2010




Submit questions
 / problems to
Randel Raison, CET

ask the experts . . .

• Dear Experts,

Many times when I'm transcribing with log notes, there may be an occurrence in the recording where street names or businesses are used but not added to the log notes.  In an attempt to maintain the integrity of the record, what are the most effective and efficient ways of finding out this information?  I have also run into this problem as it pertains to attorney names that may not have been included in the notes.  Are there any resources available to find this information quickly?
Paula D. Culp (North Carolina)

The experts reply,

There are many resources available to transcribers that make it easier to find this information.  One resource is using Google Earth.  Simply plugging in the street name, city, and state into Google Earth really helps.  Also, each state should have a bar association website and a directory of attorneys who are members of the bar.  This can help maintain accuracy with names that can be spelled differently, but sound the same, such as Browne or Brown.

NOTE:  Replies are general and informational in nature,
and opinions are not intended to provide legal advice.
Always follow the rules of your own jurisdiction.





The Nature of Words

Recently while wandering through the forest of words that is the dictionary, I discovered the explanation for the common name of a type of oak that grows both in Texas and regions farther north.  Several species of the genus Quercus are called pin oaks; all have deeply lobed or pinnatifid leaves, leaves so deeply lobed they could be said to resemble a feather, from the Latin pinna.  To be considered pinnatifid, the notches in the leaves must extend halfway to the midrib.
The writing instrument derived from a quill, a pen, is another cousin of the word, as is a slender triangular flag called a pennon.  A diminutive version of a pennon, such as would adorn a lance, is a pencel, from Old French penoncel.  Because of the diagonally cut ends of the small tubes, penne pasta also resembles quills or feathers; the Italian is penna.

In nautical terms a pennant, also from pinna, is similarly known as a pendant (or pendent), derived from the Latin pendere, to hang or be suspended.  A term one might encounter in transcription is pendente lite, which means "pending the litigation" or the "pendency of the case."  Pendulous and pendulum are from the same root.

Another set of "pen" words, but with a different derivation, are penal and penalty, by way of the Middle English penalte, from the Latin poenalis. A subpoena, literally "under pain," from the Latin sub plus poena, ensures that a person will appear in court as requested or suffer a penalty.

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




Bill of Rights
Our original Constitution, as proposed in 1787, faced considerable opposition, based not so much on what was included, as on what was omitted.

The document lacked something that the English had already enjoyed for a full century — an outline of specific individual rights, privileges, and immunities permanently guaranteed to all.

To make the new Constitution more palatable, its framers promised that the very first Congress would submit a package of appropriate amendments for the states to consider.  But even with that agreement in hand, ratification was barely achieved.
The first ten Amendments are collectively known as "the Bill of Rights." The entire set contains, incredibly, a mere 482 words.

How familiar are you with this crucial element in our system of governance?

  Click here for a self-scoring quiz, and find out!



To read the full text of these Amendments, click here
— courtesy, James Madison University.




Volunteers Welcome / Open Board Positions

AAERT is a volunteer association with a volunteer Board. We need you! Please contact Executive Director Sherry Simmons to let us know how you would like to be involved. She will point you in the right direction. With a couple of "man hours" a month from every member, this Association would be unstoppable!

At the June 2010 Annual Meeting of Members four Board positions will be filled by election.

Letters of recommendation for Board nominees should be sent to Margaret Morgan, Board Nominations Committee Chair, at


These Board positions will become open in June:
  • Ken Kelemen was elected to fill the remaining term of a previous Board member.
    He will be running for re-election.

  • Janet Harris was appointed to fill the remaining term of a previous Board member.
    She will be running for re-election.

  • Gail Malm Armstrong will complete her term in June and will not run for re-election.

  • Luis Gomez will complete his term in June and will not run for re-election.




2010 - 2011 AAERT logo Committees and Governance:

For further information, see


Randel Raison, President
Karen Bergstrom, Vice-President
Lynn Gilstrap, Secretary
James Bowen, Treasurer Sherry Simmons, Executive Director
Tina Schaeffer,
Assistant Executive Director


Steve Simon, Chair
Tina Schaeffer,
incoming Chair, April 2010

Janet Harris
Lynn Gilstrap


James Bowen, Chair

Gillian Lawrence

Conference 2010

Randel Raison, Co-Chair
Margaret Morgan, Co-Chair


Sherry Simmons,
Executive Director

The Court Reporter

Gillian Lawrence, Chair

Randel Raison, Board Liaison


Kenneth Kelemen, Chair

Christopher Boone
Tina Schaeffer

Mentoring Task Force

Tina Schaeffer
Gail Malm Armstrong
Karen Bergstrom
Christopher Boone
Kenneth Kelemen
Randel Raison

Planning Task Force

Janet Harris, Chair

Stacie Jergensen
Gillian Lawrence
John Tomasi

Government Relations

James Bowen


Karen Bergstrom, Chair

Gail Malm Armstrong

Board Nominations

Margaret Morgan, Chair

Gillian Lawrence




Certified Electronic Court Reporter
Certified Electronic Court Transcriber

Nomination period concludes Monday, March 8, 2010.
Award recipients will be notified prior to April 1, 2010, and each will receive:

A one-year general AAERT membership,
Accommodation and registration during our 17th Annual Conference
cruise, departure port Tampa, Florida, June 24 - 28, 2010,
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
2900 Fairhope Road
Wilmington, Delaware   19810-1624




Newly Certified Members

at AAERT's examinations since the last issue of The Court Reporter:

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

Cynthia L. Adkins, CET**D
Maria I. Alonso, CER**D
Sandra Lee Brooks, CET**D
Paula M. Brokaw, CET**D
Miguel Logue Drake, CERT*D
Elizabeth Marie Farrell, CET**D
Erin Leah Flynn, CET**D
Ellen Frogner, CET**D
Kelley Anne Grijalva, CET**D
Brandy Houser, CET**D
Brian J. Killgore, CERT*D
Marcella Mae Knopp, CET**D
Barbara Jeanne Little, CET**D
Cindy Lynn Millelot, CET**D
Michelle Miller, CET**D
Dennis Miracle, CET**D
Brooke L. Myers, CET**D
Lee Ann Nussbaum, CET**D
Jayme Marie Olsen, CERT*D
Jane A. Pfitzinger, CERT*D
Lorna Slowikowski, CET**D
Erica Leigh Van Ostrand, CER**D
Wendi J. Werren, CERT*D
Nichole M. Wiest, CER**D
Mary C. Zajaczkowski, CER**D
— Wisconsin
— Florida
— Florida
— Pennsylvania
— Florida
— Maryland
— Florida
— Florida
— California
— Florida
— Washington
— Florida
— California
— New Jersey
— Florida
— Florida
— Florida
— Florida
— California
— Wisconsin
— Florida
— Washington
— Illinois
— Wisconsin
— Delaware

A general discussion of the program and a current schedule is at Certification Testing.

Steve Simon,  CERT
   Certification Chair —




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

Members can go to the Association's on-line Directories by clicking here
Award Ribbon
Those who do not wish to appear in on-line listings are shown with initials only:
Margaret Louise Arsenault, Florida
Caroline Coronado, Virginia
Barbara Demery-Gillam, California
Linda S. Derry, Ohio
Lisa Gail EdmondsonSouth Carolina
Margie Ann Green, Florida
Cindy Hoskin, Florida
R.G.J., Virginia
Lisa Lange, Delaware
P.L., Texas
Susan LaPooh, New Jersey
Eunice McCarthy, Connecticut
Phyllis M. Mullins, Virginia
Kristin V. Pejsa, Florida
Elinor Ruth Shows, Louisiana
Dorothy Smith PouchMaryland 




A reminder:   AAERT Membership Benefits 

Review the details of these offers in the Members Area of our website:  Login Page
or click on these company logos:

    office supplies

    court reporting equipment and supplies

    professional liability and disability insurance at




AAERT logo

Contact the Editor:

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.   © 2010.

Randel Raison, CET, President

AAERT   /   2900 Fairhope Road   /   Wilmington, Delaware  19810-1624





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