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Nebraska Governor Makes February 5 - 12, 2022 Nebraska Court Reporting and Captioning Week

Nebraska Governor Makes February 5 - 12, 2022 Nebraska Court Reporting and Captioning Week

Last month, Nebraska's governor, Pete Ricketts, proclaimed the week of February 5 - 12 as Nebraska Court Reporting and Captioning Week.  This procalmation was part of a nationwide effort to recognize the importance of court reporters and the viability of the profession.  This year marked the 10th Annual National Court Reporting & Captioning Week.  Thomas & Thomas Court Reporters was lucky enough to have three representatives attend the ceremony - Gretchen Thomas, RPR, CRR, John Thomas, CLVS, and Cindy Craig, RPR.  Below is the proclamation in full:

proclamation

WHEREAS, For millennia, individuals have wanted the spoken word translated into text and to accomplish this task have relied on scribes; and

WHEREAS, Scribes were present with our nation's Founding Fathers as the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights were drafted; and

WHEREAS, Since the advent of shorthand machines, these scribes have been known as court reporters and have played a permanent and invaluable role in courtrooms across our country; and

WHEREAS, Court reporters and captioners are responsible for the closed captioning seen scrolling across television screens, at sporting stadiums, and in other community and educational settings, bringing information to millions of deaf and hard-of-hearing Americans ever day; and

WHEREAS, Court reporters and captioners translate the spoken word into text and preserve our history; and

WHEREAS, Whether called the scribes of yesterday or the court reporters and captioners of today, the individuals who preserve our Nation's history are truly guardians of the record.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Pete Ricketts, Governor of the State of Nebraska, DO HEREBY PROCLAIM the week of February 5 - 12, 2022, as NEBRASKA COURT REPORTING AND CAPTIONING WEEK in Nebraska, and I do hereby urge all citizens to take due note of the observance.

 

Did you know? If you are interested in finding out of a career in court reporting or captioning is right for you, check the NCRA A to Z® Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program, a free six- week course that is available onsite and online. The course teaches participants how to write the alphabet in steno and offers the opportunity to see if the career path is a right one for them.

Want to find out more about what Thomas & Thomas Court Reporters does?  Check out our services page for more information.  

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2022 Court Reporting & Captioning Week

2022 Court Reporting & Captioning Week
Thomas & Thomas Court Reporters and Certified Legal Video, LLC
1321 Jones Street, Omaha, NE 68102
402.556.5000
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It’s the perfect time to shine a light on a career that’s a best-kept secret

2022 Court Reporting & Captioning Week, hosted by the National Court Reporters Association, is happening Feb. 5-12 and marks the perfect opportunity to showcase the skills of your station’s captioner and to share with your viewers more about the unique careers stenographic court reporting and captioning offer.

Did you know…

  • That court reporting and captioning do not require a four-year college degree, providing graduates to enter the workforce more quickly and with less debt?
  • That there is a growing need for professionals to fill stenographic court reporting and captioning jobs?
  • That this career choice offers good pay, unlimited opportunities, the chance to travel at home and abroad, and many times, a front-row seat to history?
  • Stenographic captioners do wonderful work to help better the lives of millions of Americans who are deaf or hard of hearing by providing captioning in real time for live sporting and theater events, church services, movie houses, many other venues, and newscasts like yours!

 

Here are a few more fun and interesting facts about the court reporting profession:

  • Capturing the record of important proceedings dates to the fourth century B.C.
  • The ampersand (&) is one of the earliest forms of shorthand.
  • There are official court reporters who are employees of the court, freelance court reporters, broadcast captioners, and CART captioners (Communication Access Realtime Translation—often employed in classroom settings to assist students who are deaf or hard of hearing).
  • In an emergency, broadcast captioners can provide vital information to 48 million Americans who are deaf or hard of hearing.
  • Court reporters and captioners use cutting-edge technology to bring the spoken word accurately to text in real time.
  • There is currently a steady demand for professionals in the court reporting and captioning professions as many in the field are reaching retirement age in the next several years.
  • Annual salaries of court reporters and captioners can reach upwards of $80,000.

Court reporters and captioners rely on the latest in technology to use stenographic machines to capture the spoken word and translate it into written text in real time. These professionals work both in and out of the courtroom recording legal cases and depositions, providing live captioning of events, and assisting members of the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities with gaining access to information, entertainment, educational opportunities, and more.

If you’re looking for a career that is on the cutting edge of technology, offers the opportunity to work at home or abroad, like to write, enjoy helping others, and are fast with your fingers, then the fields of court reporting and captioning are careers you should explore.

The NCRA  A to Z® Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program is a free online six-to-eight-week introductory course that lets participants see if a career in court reporting or captioning would be a good choice for them. The program is an introductory course in stenographic theory and provides participants with the opportunity to learn the basics of writing on a steno machine. There is no charge to take the course, but participants are required to have access to a steno machine or an iPad they can use to download an iStenoPad app.

The NCRA A to Z programs are taught by volunteer professionals working in the court reporting and captioning arenas who also share insights into the many aspects of court reporting and captioning that make it a viable profession, including good salaries, flexibility, interesting venues, and the increasing demand for more reporters and captioners to meet the growing number of employment opportunities available in the field.

To arrange an interview with a working court reporter, captioner, or a current court reporting student, or to learn more about the lucrative and flexible court reporting or captioning professions and the many job opportunities currently available, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

About NCRA

The National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) has been internationally recognized for promoting excellence among those who capture and convert the spoken word to text for more than 100 years. NCRA is committed to supporting its more than 13,000 members in achieving the highest level of professional expertise with educational opportunities and industry-recognized court reporting, educator, and videographer certification programs. NCRA impacts legislative issues and the global marketplace through its actively involved membership.

 

Forbes has named court reporting as one of the best career options that do not require a traditional four-year degree. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the court reporting field is expected to be one of the fastest areas of projected employment growth across all occupations. According to 247WallSt.com, the court reporting profession ranks sixth out of 25 careers with the lowest unemployment rate, just 0.7 percent. Career information about the court reporting profession—one of the leading career options that do not require a traditional four-year degree—can be found at DiscoverSteno.org.

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Thomas & Thomas Court Reporters Provides Trial Services in Community Theater

Thomas & Thomas Court Reporters Provides Trial Services in Community Theater

SERVICES:  Trial Presentation Services, Trial Technician, A/V Equipment Rental, and PowerPoint Creation

CASE CAPTION:  Estate of Matthew P. Perkins, By and Through Its Administrator, David Perkins, and David  Perkins and Wilma A. Perkins, Individually vs. Sheryl R. Stalzer and Richard Stalzer; LACI10621

CASE TYPE:  Wrongful Death

COURT:  Iowa District Court for Marshall County

JUDGE:  Judge James C. Ellefson

LAW FIRMS:  Fredd J. Haas Law Offices, PC (Plaintiffs) and UNKNOWN (Defendants)

OVERVIEW:  Providing trial technician to display exhibits, PowerPoints, and video depositions at trial.  Thomas & Thomas Court Reporters was also responsible for the A/V equipment and ensuring all the A/V equipment was setup correctly.

UNIQUE ASPECT OF TRIAL:  The unique aspect of this trial was the fact that it was held at the community theaters (The Orpheum) instead of the courthouse, as the courthouse was partially destroyed after a tornado came through Marshalltown on July 19, 2018 and was not quite ready to hold trials at the time. 

Because the trial was not held in a traditional courtroom, additional A/V equipment was needed to ensure a clear and visible presentation was possible.  Thomas & Thomas Court Reporters utilized a 100” projector screen as the main display and then split the signal to the TV that was already in the space so that the room would have a secondary screen for alternate viewing.  A separate trial tech table was also utilized due to limited space and the room’s configuration. 

As with lots of spaces, line of sight was of particular concern here.  We had to place the projector screen off to the side, but at enough of an angle so that everyone could see it.  The secondar monitor was then positioned on the opposite side so that those closest to it didn’t have to look all the way across the room, if so desired.  Here, we were able to utilize the TV’s speakers for audio playback instead of the projector’s internal speakers or brining in a standalone speaker.                       

RESULT:  $6,000,000 settlement several hours after the jury left to deliberate.

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Future of Court Reporting Discussed at Town Hall Meeting

In September, the Omaha Bar Association hosted a town hall meeting with members of the local legal community to discus the futrue of court reporting in Nebraska.  As a part of that town hall meeting, Thomas & Thomas Court Reporters was asked to sit on the panel to provide insight into the matter.  Below are photos from the meeting, as well as an article by David Golbitz from The Daily Record about what transpired at the meeting.  Thank you to the OBA for including Thomas & Thomas in the town hall meeting.  We truly appreciate being a part of the discussion.

 

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Future of Court Reporting in Nebraska Up in the Air

By David Golbitz

The Daily Record

The Omaha Bar Association hosted a town hall meeting with members of the local legal community to discuss the future of court reporting in Nebraska.

A contentious issue, the hour-and-a-half long meeting—moderated by Omaha attorney Stu Dornan — raised a number of questions but provided few answers.

At the heart of the discussion was the fact that Nebraska has a shortage of trained, qualified court reporters, leaving many courtrooms to rely on potentially inaccurate transcriptions made from digital recordings of the testimony.

“(Accurate records are) the lifeblood of what we do,” Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey Funke said. “We can't have a justice system without the record. It's important for the litigants, important for the attorneys, important for the trial judge and it's extremely important for me in my job now as an appellate judge. All I do is read the record.”

Most of the lawyers and judges who spoke at the town hall agreed that having a court reporter in the courtroom is the absolute best way to ensure an accurate record.

“If I had my druthers, I would say every courtroom should have a stenographic court reporter,” Funke said. “Is that financially feasible? No. Is that feasible with the shortage that we’re experiencing? No. So what do we do?”

One of the reasons for the court reporter shortage is that Nebraska doesn’t offer a competitive salary. Some court reporters previously employed in Nebraska are leaving for higher wages — by one count, there are currently nine court reporters working in Iowa who used to work in Douglas County.

Funke said that a pay study is currently underway to determine how much Nebraska should be paying its court reporters, but the study won’t be ready until the end of the year.

More competitive pay doesn’t, on its own, mean that there will be enough qualified workers to serve as court reporters, though. Many employers are struggling to draw in the talent they need, and the shortage of court reporters is national — there just aren’t enough workers for all vacancies.

Douglas County Public Defender Tom Riley wants the state to do whatever it has to do to ensure every courtroom has a court reporter.

“Cheaper isn’t necessarily better in this context,” Riley said. “I can think of any number of instances where I’m so glad that there was a court reporter that was involved, a human being, a steno, that knows what they’re doing and can keep track of the record both with regard to the physical evidence and the testimony.”

Riley added: “As far as I’m concerned we should do everything we can to keep live steno court reporters in the courtroom as often as we can. And whatever changes we need to do, keep them here.”

The problem with not having a dedicated court reporter in the courtroom is that something might be missed by someone who is just listening to an audio recording.

“I think of all the sidebars we have where you might be talking over me, the court reporter will say, ‘one at a time’ or ‘slow down’ or ‘you’re too quiet,’” Chief Deputy Douglas County Attorney Brenda Beadle said.

Court reporters are able to actively listen to what’s being said.

“If there’s not a way to discern between what’s not important and what is actually important, that is a concern,” Interim Omaha City Attorney Matt Kuhse said.

The potential that a key part of testimony might be missed is significantly higher without a court reporter working in real time in the courtroom.

During her presentation, Sarpy County court reporter Stefanie Allison presented a transcript that had been made from a digital recording that had “261 untranslates, indecipherables, indiscernibles and unidentified speakers.”

“This is an appeal,” Allison said. “This is somebody’s life here, and this record is not accurate. You can’t make a ruling on this.”

Douglas County Court Judge Thomas K. Harmon said that he has had to change the way he presides over his courtroom when he doesn’t have a court reporter.

“One of the things that I try to do on the bench is to be very clear in the questions that I’m asking, hoping that I’ll have an audible record that will in fact, if an appeal comes about, that you do have those facts available and that there is a record made,” Harmon said. “I’m very anal about making sure everyone identifies themselves, making sure that the names are spelled correctly.”

Kuhse said that judges shouldn’t have to split their attention between listening to testimony in the moment and wondering whether the audio recording is going to be clear enough on a later review.

“I do not like recording systems in county court,” Kuhse said. “It places too much burden on the judges to have to get the exhibits, mark the exhibits, keep track of the exhibits, when their attention should be on the evidence and testimony.”

The town hall meeting ended without a clear idea of how to ensure an accurate record is kept for every case if there is not a court reporter in every courtroom.

Most attendees believe there will have to be some sort of hybrid system between having inperson stenographers and using digital recording technology, but no one knows what it will look like.

“Part of solving that problem is to incorporate digital recording into District Court and do it in a way that supports stenos,” District Court Judge Shelly Stratman said. “How is (digital) going to incorporate with our stenos? And how are we going to make sure that we have the software, the equipment, and everything we need to make sure that every attorney and every litigant is getting an accurate record?”

Until that hybrid system is figured out, there will still be only one surefire way to ensure that the court record is accurate.

“I will tell you right here and now the reality is that if you do not have a stenographer in that courtroom you cannot guarantee that that record is accurate,” Allison said. “You cannot. Period.”

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Thomas & Thomas Court Reporters Provides Trial Presentation Services for Unique Patent Trial

Thomas & Thomas Court Reporters Provides Trial Presentation Services for Unique Patent Trial

SERVICES:  Trial Presentation Services, Trial Technician, A/V Equipment Rental, and PowerPoint Creation

CASE CAPTION:  NexStep, Inc. v. Comcast Cable Communications, LLC; 1:19-CV-01031

CASE TYPE:  Patent Infringement

COURT:  United States District Court for the District of Delaware

JUDGE:  Judge Richard G. Andrews

LAW FIRMS:  Kramer Levin (NextStep) and WilmerHale (Comcast)

OVERVIEW:  Providing trial technician to display exhibits, PowerPoints, and video depositions at trial.  Thomas & Thomas was also responsible for some of the A/V equipment and ensuring all the A/V equipment was setup correctly.

UNIQUE ASPECT OF TRIAL:  There were two unique aspects to this trial.  The first was that the Judge did not allow our team to put on a damages case.  Thus, our entire presentation was devoted to infringement and validity.  The other unique aspect of the trial was the courtroom was not completely wired like federal courtrooms normally are.  Here, we had to bring in a projector and connect it in such a way that both sides could black out the signal when displaying evidence that had not been admitted.  This is especially important in patent litigation, as there are voluminous amounts of exhibits and using physical copies to admit evidence would be burdensome and time consuming.  Normally, the courtroom is wired in a way that the Court controls what is shown to the jury and is not a responsibility of the parties.          

RESULT:  Infringement.  The jury issued a verdict finding Comcast’s Xfinity brand app indirectly infringed NexStep’s patent for a way of turning a remote control into a customer service “concierge device,” but cleared Comcast of claims of infringing a related patent.

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