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The Court Reporter Winter 2009
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For Professionals in Electronic / Digital Court Technology

Volume 14, Number 4 — Winter 2009 . . .



 2010 dues structure amended / E-Invoices 

Electronic reporting — savings and benefits 

Centralized digital court reporting 

Court Technology Conference — Denver 


President's Message 

News and opinions . . .

Ask the experts 

The Nature of Words 


Microphone placement 

Your Association

New Examination Fees Schedule, 2010 

Official Court Reporters in Minnesota

 AAERT At Sea, 2010:

Cruise activities 

Cruise schedule / FAQs 

Cruise rates / requirements 

Welcome, new members  

Membership benefits — reminders

NVRA Conference — Nashville

MECRA Conference — Michigan




  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 simplified.

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, as always. 

Should you have questions or concerns, please contact Sherry Simmons, Executive Director, at, 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
From Florida:

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."  They did.

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

From Minnesota:

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 guilty plea.

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 staff.

Margaret Morgan,  CERT
Olmsted County District Court, Minnesota




Centralized   Digital Court Reporting
AboveNicole 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:

  • Sound equipment, recording computers, servers, microphones, and cameras;

  • Recording software and note-taking software which is time-linked to the recording;

  • 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 and transcripts.

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.

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 reporting environments.
We invite you to submit your ideas and / or articles to for publication.




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.   © 2009.

Randel Raison, CET, President

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





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