Christmas in the City is a nonprofit, 100% volunteer-run organization that works to ameliorate the affects of homelessness. Every year they host a holiday party with gifts for every child. Last year there were over 3,000 guests. Jake Kennedy is a co-founder of this event. He runs Kennedy Brothers Physical Therapy in Downtown Boston.
Thanks to the generous support of the reporters and staff at Doris O. Wong Associates, Inc., we were able to present nine $25 Marshalls gift certificates to this worthy cause. Children of all ages have special wishes during the holidays, but we specifically had the older children in mind, since they are often overlooked. They are homeless and without resources. With their gift cards, they can go to Marshalls and choose something to their liking.
There is still time to make a donation. Donations and toys may be dropped off at the Kennedy Brothers office at 45 Franklin Street, Boston.
It is alarming to think that attorneys would settle for mediocre transcripts to build their cases. In the court reporting profession, we are trained to write every word the participants speak. We are entrusted with complex matters, confidential testimony, sometimes intimate details of people’s lives. Every word counts; every word needs to be preserved. All litigants deserve a professional who will deliver a verbatim transcript in a timely manner. There IS a difference among court reporters. Transcripts that are just “good enough” have no place in the marketplace, and a “passable” product is unacceptable when people’s affairs and your reputation are on the line.
You do not need to settle for second-rate transcripts that contain “drops” or missing words in the recorded testimony, incorrect translations, or transcript margins and indentations that are too generous. Call Doris O. WongAssociates, Inc., for your next deposition or hearing, and see the difference. Our certified court reporters have proven records of accuracy, reliability, and integrity. These dedicated professionals prepare every transcript with the utmost care and attention to detail. When they certify their transcripts, they do so with pride and confidence, knowing that they are delivering a top-notch product our clients can rely on in court.
Connie Psaros, RPR, recently wrote a blog for Prince Institue. Thought we'd share the article.
One of the most important duties a court reporter performs is swearing in a witness. In Massachusetts, the notary laws state that a witness’s identity must first be verified by their presentation of a government-issued photo ID, such as a license or passport.
When swearing in a witness, speak slowly and clearly. Administering an oath sets the tone for the deposition. An attorney told me once that a reporter rattled off the oath so quickly that he was compelled to ask her, “Do you want me to ask the questions that fast?” Good point. An oath administered slowly and deliberately will remind the witness of the seriousness of the occasion and will hopefully help to set the pace of the proceedings.
I have never forgotten this valuable piece of advice I once received on this topic: Make sure you get an audible response from the witness. If you receive a nod or a shake of the head, ask for a verbal response. If you receive any other kind of response other than a “yes,” such as, “I’ll do my best” or “I guess so,” write those exact words on your machine. In any event, after you swear in a witness, make a note to that effect somewhere, either on your machine or on your work papers, so that you can look a judge in the eye and affirm that the oath was indeed administered.
Almost every reporter at least once in their career forgets to swear in a witness. If this happens to you during the deposition, you must alert counsel. They will then probably ask you to administer the oath retroactively. If you discover your omission after the deposition has concluded, then you must make that very awkward phone call to the attorneys to notify them of your oversight. You can only hope the matter will be resolved without contention. This is why getting in the habit of making a note that you DID swear in the witness is a good practice to follow.
I have come across several situations that gave me pause. Be prepared with an oath to administer to a child and an oath to administer to an interpreter. Some people would rather “affirm” than “swear” to tell the truth. Some do not want a reference to God in the oath. And believe it or not, before you ask someone to raise their right hand, make sure they have one! (This actually happened)
In short, don’t be one of those reporters who indifferently spews out the oath. Treat this task with the respect and deference it deserves.
Thanks to Kathryn “Steno Kat” Sweeney, RMR, CRR, on an informative and invaluable seminar given at the Massachusetts Court Reporters Association seminar held this past weekend on Cape Cod.
In her own inimitable style, she patiently walked all 20 of us through the test-taking process, which is now a Testimony take given at 200 words per minute for five minutes with 40 allowable errors. On the technical side, she explained every step from setup to final ASCII and provided assistance when necessary. She covered a lot of material, but all of us will have ample opportunity before the test date to practice the procedures and become more familiar with our software. Kathryn also gave us tips on how to improve our chances to pass and educated us on what constitutes errors by NCRA. After cheering us on and reminding us to focus and breathe, she gave us a sample test. Some vocabulary words were provided at the outset so that you could create briefs and input them into your dictionary. I defined “Ruth Drake” in my job dictionary, but naturally “Drakes” came up and, you guessed it, it did not translate. Several times!! On the second test take, we were given the words “Global Cruise Line,” and I promptly came up with a brief. After the take a fellow reporter said, “Did you notice they said ‘Global Cruise Lines’?” “No, I didn’t’!”
What I learned is that I have a lot to learn.
Be that as it may, I would highly recommend that all reporters take this seminar. Congratulations to all those who participated and who are working to improve their knowledge and skills. As for Kathryn, she is an inspiring, entertaining, and accomplished cheerleader with the credentials to prove it. As she says, in her own words, “I’m the bomb!” No argument there.
Doris O. Wong Associates, Inc., to the rescue - AGAIN! A reporter with no credentials, but advertising herself as a realtime writer with twenty years' experience, was called by a "national firm" to cover an assignment in our city. She couldn't handle the case, and the attorneys were upset. The national firm, in a panic, called us to see if we could send a realtime writer to take over. We always try to have a reporter on standby, and one of our best just happened to be on call.
This was a patent job with an expert economist as a witness. Counsel told our reporter that the morning reporter's realtime was very hard to read and that she could not read back. The videographer told our reporter that the morning reporter's realtime equipment failed several times, and because she didn't use a software that refreshes the text, all testimony previous to the failures could not be accessed when she restarted the feed.
We sent over an NCRA-Certified Court Reporter who stepped in and provided iCVNet realtime on iPads with a feed the lawyers kept exclaiming was "phenomenally clear." Thank you, Carol Kusinitz! Counsel said that this was the best realtime feed they had seen in the five years of depositions taken in the case all over the country.
Be wary of “national firms” that don’t vet their far-flung reporters adequately. Call a local agency with a proven record of delivering the transcripts and services you need. We are proud to say that ALL of our reporters are certified and are members of our state and national organizations. We hold ourselves to very high standards because our clients deserve the best.
One of my New Year’s resolutions is to listen to at least one TED Talk a week. In case you are not familiar with TED Talks, they are global conferences on a wide variety of topics having to do with Technology, Entertainment, and Design. Their slogan is “Ideas Worth Spreading.” Speakers give 18-minute lectures on topics they have researched and have a unique insight on. Some of the subjects listed on their site include human origins, epidemiology, guitar, failure, and happiness. They are so informative and entertaining, thought provoking, many times inspirational and uplifting. I just recently listened to a presentation given by David Blaine, the magician, titled “How I Held My Breath for 17 Minutes.” Totally fascinating!
Anyway, I got to thinking that this would be a great resource for court reporting students! I think that students who are practicing for their 200s and above could benefit from trying to write these lectures “live.” There are so many lectures to choose from. There is something for everybody. Not only will you build your vocabulary and have new words to add to your dictionary, but you will be exposed to different speaker styles, just like working reporters out in the field. It is great practice, especially for your “literary” takes.
Should you decide to take advantage of these lectures, practice as always with purpose. You can write the whole take to get a feel for the topic. Then you can define any new words for your dictionary. Writing the whole take will help build your endurance and stamina, too, and strengthen your concentration skills. Then you can break the lecture up into five-minute takes so it will more accurately reflect a test take. Be sure to critically examine your writing and correct any misstrokes. Then try writing a perfect five-minute take.
Sometimes practicing can be a little dull. Finding new dictation material can be a challenge. So take advantage of this free educational and practicing opportunity. Go to www.ted.com, pick a TED talk on a topic that interests you, and give it a try. Enjoy!
NCRA Court Reporting and Captioning Week - February 16-22, 2014
The National Court Reporters Association is celebrating its second annual National Court Reporting and Captioning Week February 16 through 22, 2014. The thousands of specially trained professionals around the country will take this opportunity to celebrate the contributions they have made to the judicial system as keepers of the record, as captioners for television, and as CART providers for the deaf and hard-of-hearing; to educate the public about our profession; and to encourage people to consider court reporting as a career. The unique skills that court reporters possess provide an indispensable service to so many, and for this reason we are proud to be a part of this group and recognize our peers during this special week.
Our industry continues to evolve at a rapid pace, and court reporters are rising to the challenge to stay relevant and indispensable. In October of 2013, our firm utilized just-released cloud technology developed by Stenograph Corporation which allowed us to provide a secure realtime feed to dozens of people in a hearing room as well as dozens of people off-site for a two-week, daily-copy arbitration. This opportunity allowed us to showcase the benefits of using the latest technological innovations coupled with the talent of our top-notch court reporters; an unbeatable combination!
Doris O. Wong Associates, Inc., has been proudly serving the legal community for 46 years. We want to thank you, our valued clients, for the trust you place in us to provide the verbatim transcripts, products, and services you have come to rely on in your daily practices.
Video: Rep. Dennis Ross speaking on the floor of the US House of Representatives recognizing Court Reporting and Captioning Week. Click here to view the video.
All court reporters in training have roadblocks. Gaining speed is hard. Really hard. Only those who have gone through it can relate! But sometimes getting to the next level takes an inordinate amount of time, many, many months, and an impasse is reached. When that happens, it is time to honestly evaluate what the reason or reasons may be and think about what can be done to overcome it and move ahead.
The first and most critical consideration concerns your THEORY. Learning your theory inside and out is the cornerstone of speedbuilding. It is the foundation upon which all progress is built. Without a mastery of your theory, the road ahead will be rocky and full of setbacks. If your writing is not automatic and you are hesitating too often when writing new or unfamiliar terms, get out your theory book and revisit every lesson. The review will remind you of what you may have forgotten, and it will reinforce what you have already successfully incorporated into your writing.
The next component of successful speedbuilding is PRACTICE. When you practice, you are training your brain to memorize the stroke or strokes that are associated with certain words so that it becomes second nature, reflex. That’s what makes practice so invaluable! Daily practicing is very difficult but important work, so it deserves your full attention. It should be done when you are free from distraction and are able to concentrate.
Write with purpose! Do not just go through the motions. Break down your takes into small increments and master each increment before you move on. Spending two hours stretching and fighting to get an error-free, one-minute take is far more valuable than spending four hours casually writing without such a goal in mind. Just because you have the headphones on for hours on end doesn’t mean you are making progress.
At least two hours every day should be devoted to solid, deliberate practice. If you can practice more, do so. Practice at a speed that is challenging but not out of reach. And although it may be difficult, try to include punctuation when you write. When you become a working reporter, you will greatly appreciate this habit when your witness gives an answer that is several paragraphs long.
Lastly, practice is for naught if you are not READING BACK. This is when your errors will become apparent. Examine your writing. If you see misstrokes, write the word correctly several times. This repetition will help ingrain the correct stroke in your memory. If a certain phrase is tripping you up, spend some time working out the kinks. If you are dropping, break down the section into smaller parts and keep trying! Reading back is necessary if you are trying for your 60 or your 225. No matter what speed level you are trying to achieve, constant readback and critique will pay great dividends in the long run. With the demand for realtime reporters increasing every day, start now in your quest to write as perfectly as possible every day.
Mastering your theory, deliberate practice, and readback are the keys to moving ahead. If you are a beginning student, following this advice at the outset will serve you well. If you are already in the throes of speedbuilding and are not progressing as well as you think you should be, it is never too late to reevaluate, refocus, and start anew.
Written by Connie Psaros, RPR of Doris O. Wong Associates, Inc., for Prince Institute
Technology is now available that will allow you to receive a secure wireless feed from the court reporter’s machine directly to your iPad so you can view a witness’ testimony in real time. Your associates and experts who are appearing offsite can also receive a live feed on their iPads via the Cloud and thus participate without even being physically present in the room, saving money and travel time.
Setup is easy. Just download the free iCVNet app, and the reporter will give you a password so you can log on. The software has a “Rapid Refresh” feature so that you will receive all the reporter’s editing changes as they are being made. Should you arrive late to the deposition, you can receive the entire transcript when you log on.
Call Doris O. Wong Associates, Inc., if you would like to utilize this latest technology. We can even supply an iPad for your use. Please allow enough notice so that we can assign a reporter who is capable of providing this service.
As athletes from Team USA prepare to compete in the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games, we as court reporters can feel a kinship with them. They strive for perfection in their chosen sport; we strive for perfection in our writing. They aim for the gold; we aim for 100% accuracy.
Writing as perfectly as possible is the challenge we face every day. Like our American athletes, we practice every day for years to prepare us for what lies ahead. As students, we do our drills, learn our briefs, write a take. Then we read back, correct our misstrokes, and try again. We repeat this process over and over again, always aiming for an error-free result.
When we begin our reporting careers and encounter testimony that is technical in nature, a witness with a heavy accent, or participants speaking at breakneck speed, we rise to the challenge and put forth our best efforts. From the moment we swear in a witness and begin writing, we are in competition with ourselves to push harder, write cleaner, and write faster.
When our profession’s elite compete against each other every year in the National Speed Contest, only one-tenth of a percentage point can separate the winner from the first runner-up. That’s as close to the Olympics as we can get!
So the next time you watch your favorite athletes go for the gold, think about all the training and practice that they endured that enabled them to compete on the Olympic stage, and let it inspire you to reach your next level of success.