OCRA NOTICES REGARDING CERTIFICATION
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OCRA NOTICES REGARDING CERTIFICATION From the Spring 2005 Buckeye Record – President’s Message: Linda Sturm, RDR, CRR, CBC, CCP Five months have flown by since I was installed as president of your association. It is really hard to believe. I know that time flies, but…. Unfortunately, the wheels that need turning to move us toward meeting the goals your board has established move more slowly. The next time I turn around, the year will be over. At that time my hope will be that, as a leadership team, our board will have met our obligations in achieving the goals that members are expecting of us - Superior agenda of educational programs Improving the effectiveness of communications between OCRA and its members Increasing member participation and achieving results that protect the job of court reporters in a variety of ways. But results take time and planning. Realizing this, your OCRA board has made the decision to have only one conference each year, in April, allowing the board more time to make progress in the other important areas of legislature and communications with members. This decision also meets the expressed needs of members to have higher quality in the educational programs, which requires more investment in both time and money, resulting in fewer conferences, but higher quality. The wheels can get turning, and your OCRA leadership can make the progress you need on issues such as certification of reporters, promotion and education regarding Rule 28(D), and regulations that protect the jobs of court reporters, with your support on another important issue. That issue is changing the length of term for the board officers. Establishing a two-year term for OCRA’s board will allow the continuity of leadership that is required to make transitions that are focused on OCRA. This will require a change in the current bylaws, which you will be asked to vote on at the Annual Conference in April. Although realizing firsthand that this is an additional time commitment for the officers and directors, it is apparent that this continuity of leadership for a longer period of time is needed, not just for getting the wheels in motion, but also for meeting OCRA’s obligation to develop court reporters into leaders who have the opportunity to learn and effectively lead OCRA and its members into the future. With the assistance of the Executive Director, Tracy Schiefferle, the administrative burden for the position of president has been reduced, allowing more time for planning and focusing on meeting the association’s goals. This transition can be further accomplished by voting for the term of the current officers to run from September 2004 through the April conference in 2006 and future terms to run for two full years from the time officers are inducted. With the belief that all good things take time, I ask for your support for this change that will significantly impact the reward that reporters can receive from their commitment to involvement in the court reporting profession through OCRA. Our profession has gone through many changes in the past, and we continue to see changes on a daily basis. It is of utmost importance that you have strong, dedicated leaders to see us through these changes. I would urge each and every one of you to attend the conference April 8-10, 2005, in support of your association and to vote in favor of strengthening OCRA for the future. From the Summer 2005 Buckeye Record – President’s Message: Linda Sturm, RDR, CRR, CBC, CCP Special thanks are due to the people who assisted in making the “Incredible Annual Spring Conference” such a success. All court reporters benefited from the efforts of many who deserve not only our recognition but also our gratitude for making this event a pivotal point of achievement. When seminars designed to accelerate key knowledge and stimulate energy for our profession combine with social interaction that links us as business peers and friends and includes outstanding contributions from members, we must truly measure “success” for this conference in a very positive light. I would personally like to acknowledge the support provided by Tracy Schiefferle, Executive Director of OCRA, for all of her efforts and attention to details and Michele Eddy for her attention to planning this great conference. I would like to express my appreciation to the membership of OCRA for their feedback, comments, suggestions and wisdom during the voting process on key issues that affect all of us. Special thanks to all committee members, vendors, and contributors. A very big thank-you goes to our Superhero district directors who so selflessly donned their capes on behalf of OCRA and the following benefactors, contributing to the successful fund-raising activities: Columbus Children’s Hospital, Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, Ronald McDonald House, Lance Armstrong Foundation, and the American Legion. The annual conference is designed to be the forum for us to achieve not only our goal of “providing a superior agenda of educational programs” but also gives the opportunity to “improve the effectiveness of communications” between OCRA and its members through panel discussions, social events and business meetings. For communications, though, to be really effective, there must be a system in place for providing updates and needed information, and answering questions on a frequent and instantaneous manner to meet today’s fast pace and demands of busy court reporters. On March 14, OCRA launched its new Web site on www.ocraonline.com. If you have not had the opportunity to check it out, I encourage you to do so. The site has a plethora of information and it will continue to grow. The site contains pertinent articles, a member database with search engine, PDF files of previous Buckeye Records, conference news with pictures, and much, much more. The site is easy to get to and easy to navigate. And if you would like to send questions or comments to OCRA, you can easily do so from the contact area of the site or simply e-mail email@example.com. Your comments or suggestions will be invaluable to us as we continue moving toward the goal of certification for all reporters. On May 12, 2005, Chief Justice Thomas Moyer, in his speech to the Ohio State Bar Association, said the following: “Among the most important persons in a courtroom is the court reporter, performing a vital service to the creation and preservation of a record of proceedings. Yet court reporters are required to meet no minimum standard of skill or performance. At the request of the Ohio Court Reporters Association, we have begun discussions that will produce minimum standards and certification for court reporters.” (For a complete copy of the speech, please visit www.ocraonline.com.) Since May 12, Dennis Parise, chairman of the legislative committee, and I met with Steven Hollon, Administrative Director, and Douglas Stephens, Director, Judicial and Court Services, of The Supreme Court of Ohio, and they have agreed to set up a small task force to establish parameters of certification, and we look to hopefully have certification of court reporters a reality by the end of 2005. Although the committee is still fine-tuning the details for the proposed state certification requirements, the objective of such a change would be to require that the NCRA Registered Professional Reporter certification will be the required minimum certification for practicing reporters in Ohio. OCRA will be working with the Supreme Court and others for making recommendations for such things as a grandfather clause for those reporters who have reported for a specific period of time and do not currently hold the RPR, and proposing that there be a grace period for those reporters that do not currently have the RPR and for new reporters. This minimum certification requirement will put Ohio in line with the other 30 states that currently require some type of certification to practice as a court reporter. This change will benefit all court reporters by ensuring top-quality education that will increase credibility for our profession while sustaining the profession and the career we all love. Your continued support for meeting this goal and all our strategic goals is the key factor for our future success. Thank you for your participation in the Ohio Court Reporters Association. From the Fall 2005 Buckeye Record – President’s Message: Linda Sturm, RDR, CRR, CBC, CCP In the fall of 2002 the majority of participants at the OCRA annual conference indicated that acquiring certification/licensure of court reporters should be the main focus of OCRA. On April 6, 2003 OCRA engaged the law firm of Vorys, Sater, Seymour & Pease to assist in attaining certification/licensure of reporters in Ohio. Currently, the Supreme Court of Ohio is establishing a task force to define the requirements and address such issues as grandfather clauses, grace periods, and requirements for certification of Ohio reporters. Names of volunteer reporters have recently been submitted for inclusion on this task force to ensure that OCRA and court reporters continue to have representation in making this important change. Equally important is the continuation of our legal representation throughout this process for making sure that the best interests of the court reporting profession and reporters are always at the forefront of this change. Currently, thirty-eight states in the US have mandatory or voluntary certification of reporters, establishing minimum standards of skill and performance for the following reasons: · Continuing education improves the quality of work of reporters to best meet the demands of the changing needs of the legal community. · Certification requirements support the importance of verbatim reporting in the digital process. · Certification testing emphasizes skill plus aptitude development that positions the court reporter as a valuable resource in the legal process. · Court reporting schools adopt curricula that prepare students to pass the RPR upon graduation, making graduates more equipped to meet basic job requirements as reporters. As you might imagine, this has been a lofty goal and an expensive undertaking. However, we are much further along in achieving this goal than ever before. It has been an expensive undertaking, though, and that is why, on behalf of all of you, OCRA will be hosting some major fundraising campaigns in the near future. We must keep the momentum going in order to see court reporter certification through to fruition. Your dues and conference registrations have allowed OCRA to provide excellent conferences and training seminars to the membership. In the last year and a half, OCRA has also hired a new executive director who is leading us in a positive direction for the future. OCRA has implemented a new Web site to keep its membership and the public informed. Along with the certification effort, these are expenses we must cover by soliciting donations and with fundraising efforts. I encourage all of you to please participate in the upcoming fundraisers that OCRA has planned: The Round-Up in Sunbury and a Rock & Roll fundraiser in Cleveland. You will note that these are not CEU events – they are purely for fun, camaraderie, and to support the issues at hand. You will also be receiving a letter asking you for a donation to support the certification issue. We are working hard to provide the membership of OCRA with what they have asked for. We would also like to ask for your support in these endeavors – it is an investment in YOUR future. From the Winter 2005 Buckeye Record – President’s Message: Linda Sturm, RDR, CRR, CBC, CCP Although 2005 has come and gone, some primary issues from the past year regarding court reporting will continue to be on the horizon for 2006. These include court reporter certification and contracting. The issue of certification for court reporters actually began in February of 2003 when OCRA engaged the law firm of Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease to represent us in this effort. In the past two years we have had several meetings with the attorneys and the Supreme Court representatives; and although the wheels of reform move more slowly than we would like, we are pleased to see the progress continuing. In May of 2005 Chief Justice Thomas Moyer discussed the importance of court reporter certification in his address to the Ohio Bar; in June of 2005 we submitted 12 names of court reporting related individuals to serve on a task force for the purpose of establishing parameters regarding court reporter certification; in November of 2005 we were informed by the representative of the Supreme Court that the issue is still going forward, and that we could expect the task force to meet in March of 2006. Because it has been over two years since the legislative committee established agreed-upon parameters regarding certification, we will once again ask the membership for their ideas and suggestions at our Annual Conference in March of 2006. We have not yet been informed of who will be representing our interests on the task force, but we do want to make sure that that person is apprised of the suggestions of the membership. We appreciate your patience and support in this somewhat long but important process of establishing certification for court reporters. Your generous financial contributions for legal expenses have made the difference in our progress to date and will continue to be an essential ingredient to making this ruling a reality. As we begin 2006, so begins a new agenda of issues to be addressed so that we can see this cause to its end. Please consider the merits of certification to your profession and make your financial contributions to reflect the importance of this investment in your future earnings. Equally important is contributing your ideas and/or concerns at our Annual Conference seminar on certification to help guide your board in the priorities that are important to you. The issue of third-party contracting continues to be a high priority for many members who have contacted us over this past year; and based on that, your OCRA board will continue to address those questions and concerns. As many of you are aware, on July 1, 2001, the Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure were amended to include Rule 28(D) “Prohibited Contracts.” (For the full text and Staff Note see www.ocraonline.com, Professional Center, Ohio Reporting Rules, and the link under “contracting.”) The Ohio Court Reporters Association and the Ohio Bar Association supported this rule. It came to fruition after much time, energy, and dollars were expended in order to see it established. And after July 1, 2001, we saw contracting by third parties wane in Ohio. In 2005 OCRA became aware of an e-mail that was sent by an insurance company to its counsel in Ohio mandating that they schedule depositions ONLY through their “exclusive provider of court reporting services.” Many reporters have contacted OCRA to ask the question, if they work on behalf of this “exclusive provider,” are they contracting? In order for OCRA to effectively answer this question, legal counsel was consulted for an opinion. We supplied counsel with the e-mail from the insurance company, letters from the legal services company to court reporters, their affiliate agreement, and other miscellaneous material that had been gathered. The attorneys agreed that on its face it did look like a contract agreement, and they contacted the legal services company on behalf of OCRA for further information. Those letters will be posted on the Web site for your information. From the Spring 2006 Buckeye Record – President’s Message: Michele Eddy, RPR, CRR, CLR, CRI I would like to thank all of you for your serious investment of confidence in me as your president. I am honored and humbled and regard with pride the responsibility this position holds. Ours is a profession which continues to evolve rapidly in a rapidly changing world. During the pendency of my career, and especially over the past several years as a Board member of OCRA, I have come to know and appreciate how unique we are, and I know that you share that tangible, undeniable pride with me. As a member of OCRA’s Board for the last four years, and now as your president, I recognize that without your support as members, we wouldn’t be where we are today, constantly working to build and replenish the resources to fight ER, contracting, and perhaps more importantly, mobilizing to finally institute a suitable and adequate plan for certification. OCRA is here to not only better our profession, but to keep it strong and viable. Your Board of Directors is here to support court reporting as a whole, whether it be in the freelance, official, captioning or CART arenas. Whatever needs arise, you can be assured that they will be addressed. In order to accomplish that, it is imperative that, one and all, Membership and Board of Directors, we keep the lines of communication open. As your president, my vision for the coming year is to continue our well-founded efforts toward certification, to provide education regarding anti-contracting, to ensure good public relations, and to promote student involvement. Toward that end, I plan to foster new participation on committees, obtain membership input to help steer the course, and look for ways to reach out in new ways to the reporters of tomorrow, our students, to make them feel welcome and a vital part of this Association. One of my goals regarding public relations is to resume OCRA’s involvement with educational and court personnel organizations in order to forge successful and long-lasting relationships. I’m very happy to report that a list was given to me of members who expressed willingness to work on committees in the coming year. I assure you that list will be put to good use, and I look forward to adding to that list of volunteers in the coming months. Another goal I have is to see a student mentoring program developed and implemented, but it will only work with your interest, dedication, and support. To continue our efforts, an essential task will be to increase our fundraising efforts. I thank you for your past enthusiastic support and look forward to your unselfish cooperation and whole-hearted participation this year. At our Annual Conference, we were privileged to have join us Chief Justice Moyer from the Ohio Supreme Court. I would like to share with you some exciting news about the future of certification and quote Chief Justice Moyer: “Actually, I’m here obviously for more important reasons, and that is to thank you for the most important work you do in our courts. “We live in a time when our courts are, it seems, increasingly important to so many decisions that are made that affect people’s lives, and those decisions are based upon, as we know in our adversary system, facts and testimony and evidence that we hope produce fair and just decisions, and all of that, the presentation of evidence, testimony, and so forth, is meaningless if it’s not accurately recorded and reported as part of a record obviously at the trial level and then, accordingly, as I know being an appellate judge, at the appellate level. So it’s a pleasure for me to be invited and to thank you for the invitation to be here. By the very nature of your responsibilities, I know you are industrious and dependable, and I was in the practice of law for about eight years in Columbus. I’ve done a fair amount of trial work. I’ve seen firsthand, at the trial level, the importance of court reporting. You have an eye and have an ear for details that are critical to preserving the record. I have personal experience with that. “Whether you are marking your 4th or your 40th year as a court reporter, I do commend you for the work that you perform to preserve evidence and the record of the courts which you work. “As I said, an accurate history of the proceedings is vital to the work of the courts, and I know that I speak for my colleagues on the Supreme Court in thanking you for your work. “Now, finally, at the request of the leadership of the court reporters association, as Linda knows, I’m finally establishing a task force on certification of court reporters, and I’m pleased today to — we’ve had delays, and I apologize for the delays. There are a number of reasons. The most recent one was that he court administrator of Butler County has been identified as someone who should be on the task force and another person was recommended from the same county to represent another category, so we had to do some scrambling to make sure we didn’t have two people from the same county on a relatively small task force. “As you know, the task force will undertake the first comprehensive review of certification, with the goal, of course, I understand, to be to certified in Ohio, to have a certification process of court reporters and other matters that may be related to the certification process. “The Honorable Mary Donovan, who is a judge — anyone here from Montgomery County? You probably know Judge Donovan in the Common Pleas Court, now in the Court of Appeals. She has agreed to chair the task force, and I can tell you, when I talked to her some time ago, I talked to her about this. She said, ‘Well, I’m a strong believer in realtime reporting, having the court reporter in the courtroom,’ and so you have a friendly person as chair of the task force. “Immediate Past President Linda Sturm will represent your association, and I’ll name the other members, so you will know the task force. Judge Michael Ward, who is a Common Pleas judge in Athens County and currently serves as the president of the judges association, will represent the Common Pleas judges. The Honorable Chad Carey, who is a judge in Clinton County Municipal Court, will represent the municipal court judges. Representing court administrators is Gary Yates, who is the administrator of the Butler County Common Pleas Court. And various sectors then of the legal community we thought should be represented, the practicing bar, for example. So representing the Ohio attorneys, Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association, will be John Murphy, who some of you recognize is the director, executive director of their association. We think he will be a good person who can represent the various views that various prosecutors may have about court reporting. Another member is Steve Collier, who is a very distinguished trial attorney in Toledo. Some of you may know him if you are from Lucas County. He will represent the civil litigation bar. In Columbus, Ritchey Hollenbaugh will represent the concerns of the criminal defense attorneys. “This doesn’t seem to me to be work that should take — to me, it shouldn’t take longer than about six months, but knowing that these are all volunteers, and our experience on other task forces indicates usually they take a little longer than we would expect if a person were focusing on this as their primary or their most important task, which, of course, it is not. “Everyone here on the task force will be coming from their other work, and so we’ve told Judge Donovan within a year, certainly, we would want to have — I think that should be reasonable. Because we’re not — as you know better than I, there are — there are some samples, some models from which we could draw for Ohio, and so we should have this completed — I’m hoping it will be completed in certainly less than a year, but that’s the goal. Certification of court reporters will announce, I think, to — it goes beyond you. Certainly, it announces to all Ohioans that you meet rigorous standards and that the record you produce is accurate and reliable. We know that in the family, but it’s important that we’re able to say that to those who look to the courts to resolve their disputes. “So I think it will enhance your standing in the eyes of all who come before the courts, and I look forward to certainly working with your leadership and members of the task force. It’s a very important endeavor.” At our conference, a majority of you were of the opinion and expressed that the RPR designation should be the minimum requirement with the need for a grace period to achieve such certificate. A grandfather clause was discussed and debated with views both supporting and not supporting such clause. There were various additional concerns and beneficial ideas raised and discussed, and I thank you for your timely and well-intentioned thoughts. Immediate Past President, Linda Sturm, will bring these issues, along with the previously determined guidelines set by our Legislative Committee, with her to the task force meetings this year. I look forward to keeping you updated on the progress of this task force in the ensuing months, and I’m confident that we all can anticipate great things to come. Your concerns are personal and of utmost importance to me, and with your help I’d like to address them in order to lead OCRA down that challenging path to a rewarding year. From the Spring 2006 Buckeye Record - Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Moyer Greets OCRA Members at Annual Conference: Issue of Certification of Reporters in Ohio Addressed: Bruce Matthews, FAPR, RDR, CRR We were extremely pleased to have Chief Justice Moyer address our membership at the Annual Conference business meeting in Columbus on Saturday, March 18, 2006. After speaking on the importance of court reporters to the judicial system, Chief Justice Moyer announced that he is establishing a task force to look at certification of court reporters in Ohio. The chair of the task force will be Judge Mary Donovan from the Court of Appeals, who as a Common Pleas Judge was a strong believer in realtime reporting. Judge Michael Ward, a Common Pleas Judge from Athens County who serves as president of the Judges Association, will represent the Common Pleas judges. Judge Chad Carey from Clinton County Municipal Court will represent the Municipal Court judges. Gary Yates, who is the Court Administrator for Butler County Common Pleas Court, will also serve on the task force, as well as John Murphy from the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association. Also included are Attorney Steve Collier from Toledo, representing the civil litigation bar, and Ritchey Hollenbaugh from Columbus will represent the criminal defense attorneys. Rounding out the task force will be Immediate Past President Linda Sturm from OCRA, a freelance reporter, and Bruce A. Matthews, Past President of OCRA and NCRA, a federal official reporter. The Chief Justice is hoping that this project can be completed in one year. He stated that having a certification rule in place will let Ohioans know that the reporters of the state of Ohio meet rigorous standards and that the record made by certified reporters is accurate and reliable. Chief Justice Moyer also spoke about the fact that many court employees are now subject to higher standards, including judges, court administrators, and interpreters, citing the fact that there are over 60 languages spoken in Ohio courts. There will be a written exam starting in June of this year and oral exams in November for interpreters. From the Spring 2006 Buckeye Record - Reporters Openly Talk About Mandatory Certification in Ohio: On Sunday morning, March 19, 2006, Bruce A. Matthews, RDR,CRR, conducted an open forum planning seminar regarding mandatory certification. With the attendees divided into four groups, each group was assigned topics concerning certification with the instruction to report back to the entire group on what they were able to come up with and agree upon. Remember that these suggestions are just that, suggestions, and do not reflect what the Ohio Supreme Court Task Force might ultimately decide. One group felt that there should be a grandfather clause which would require a reporter in Ohio to have passed the NCRA RPR exam since it is a standardized test. There would be no reciprocity for certified court reporters from other states who did not hold the RPR, since states who have their own test sometimes meet the requirements of the RPR and sometimes do not. This group also felt that there should be a grace period of three years for new reporters just coming out of school and for those experienced reporters who do not currently hold the RPR, which would give those reporters six chances to pass the RPR exam. These reporters would be allowed to work during the three-year time limit. After the three-year time limit expires, these reporters would not be allowed to work until they passed the RPR. The group of reporters that would be covered by the mandatory certification would be any official or freelance reporter who reports a proceeding involving a legal matter and places a certificate page on the transcript. Captioners and CART providers would not need to be certified. Another group found that if other persons providing a record were to be included, such as stenomask reporters or tape- recorder operators, they should have to meet minimum requirements as well. It wouldn’t seem right that only stenographic court reporters be certified. The issue of transcribers of tapes also was discussed. This group also felt that there should be a Certified Court Reporter Board (CCR) which would handle complaints and have the authority to suspend a reporter for just cause. It was also felt that enforcement of Rule 28(D) should fall under the CCR board, since currently there appears to be no enforcement capability for this rule. This group felt that the CCR board should be made up of ten persons, with three court reporters (at least one official and one freelancer), two judges, two court administrators, two attorneys, and one lay person. They would be responsible for maintaining records, disciplinary action, and education on the rules of the CCR board. With rules in place and a board to enforce the rules, there would be integrity of the record-making process and protection of the public. A third group felt that there should be continuing education required to remain certified, and that NCRA’s RPR program using CEU’s should be used. There would be no reason to reinvent the wheel and it would cost too much for the state to run their own program. Everyone recognizes that NCRA has a well-established and long-standing program. This group also felt that certified reporters would need to pay a fee so that the Ohio Certified Reporter program would pay for itself. This group also talked about requiring education for nonreporter firm owners, and they should at least be required to be tested on Ohio issues. The last group thought that there should be an Ohio written knowledge test to go along with the RPR exam, which would test a reporter’s knowledge on Ohio rules. This group felt that the CCR program must be mandatory with no gray areas. They felt that a voluntary certification program would not amount to anything. The fact of the matter is that there are over 30 states in the country that have some form of certification or licensure, five of which are through the Supreme Court rules of those states. With court reporters being the true guardians of the record, not only reporting the proceedings, but also archiving the record, it seems almost unbelievable that there is no rule or law requiring reporters to meet some minimum standard in a state that has much litigation. Hopefully, Chief Justice Moyer’s Task Force will be able to come up with a meaningful program that holds reporters in Ohio to a high standard. From the Summer 2006 Buckeye Record - President’s Message: Michele Eddy, RPR, CRR, CLR, CRI How many times have you heard there is strength in numbers? It’s a sometimes overused adage. We know what it means, but the question is: Can we use it to the advantage of our profession and, if so, how? Today we find ourselves at a crossroads of sorts. It’s survival of the fittest, and we recognize that. We know our strengths, and our weaknesses diminish with every new aspect of technology that we employ and with the addition of each and every new member to our Association. I bring this to your attention as we stand at the very threshold of certification. Change is, indeed, inevitable, and we face its prospects head-on. It’s no longer around the corner. It’s here and it’s now and there is no turning back - except for the stubborn and/or the faint of heart. If you’re reading this issue of the Buckeye Record, you are most likely an OCRA member, you’re proud of what we do and how we do it, and you’re ready to move forward professionally, whatever the figurative cost. So, please, read on. Our first Supreme Court Task Force meeting was held May 2, 2006. (For more information regarding this task force, see my president’s message in the previous issue of the BR.) I am very pleased to report that the outcome of this initial meeting was a positive one, and I believe we are on the road to meet our stated goals. A lot of discussion was had between all members of the committee regarding Ohio’s present needs. We, as reporters, are joined in that sentiment regarding the necessity for certification by the judges, court administrator, and attorneys who also serve on this panel. Last month at our meeting, Chief Justice Moyer said that we are the last piece of the court personnel puzzle to become certified. We say it’s about time. We’re ready, willing, and more than able, and now we’ve got the attention and support that it takes to face this challenge once and for all and to face the great future that we know is ahead of us. Our Task Force will set the standards necessary to make this goal a reality. This group of professionals is instilled with the power to help OCRA reach its certification goals with the greatest and most effective implementation of talent, tools, and resources. I am excited to be a part of that process and to report to you, regularly and openly, on its progress. The goal of the Task Force is to implement this mandatory requirement by 2007. It has been our recommendation that the RPR be a guideline test. Again, we are still in the early stages of this process and it will take some time, but this has been the direction and thrust of the discussion thus far. If you do not have your RPR, please take some time now to practice and make definite plans to take the test the next time it’s available to you. Encourage others to do so. There are many freelance firms and courthouses – not to mention captioning and CART providing companies – which do not even take applications from those reporters who are not minimally RPR proficient. In many instances, the RPR certificate may get you in the door; but, in actuality, further proof of your reporting prowess, by means of advanced testing and certification, is most desirous and these days a necessity. Remember, survival of the fittest. Certification raises the bar of our profession, and 30 other states so far have implemented it with more than satisfactory results. We are professionals, but we cannot and should not ever cease trying to improve. Let’s remain the “worried well” now and not wake up one day and wonder what happened to our “job” and what we could have done to prevent its demise into antiquity. Won’t you join me? Support OCRA, and we’ll do it together. Never let it be said that we’ve got nothing to lose. Change is difficult for some of us, but if we embrace it with a positive attitude and in the spirit of fraternalism, the benefits will return to us many times for all of us to enjoy and share in the not too distant future. From the Fall 2006 Buckeye Record - President’s Message: Michele Eddy, RPR, CRR, CLR, CRI Summer is over and just about all of the kids have gone back to school. Maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who wasn’t too, too busy during this time, and you’ve had sufficient chance to rest and recreate. So what do you think of as the warm weather begins to wane, the pools close, the college students choose their courses, and the litigators once again begin to schedule those depos and trials? I think about reevaluation, reorganization, and refreshment, both personally and professionally. Do you find yourself from time to time thinking about where you’ve been, where you are, and where you’re going? Unlike springtime, with its own fresh spirit of rebirth, this time of year always seems to be the time when I stand back, cross my arms, and say, okay, I know what I’ve done. It’s time for something new. Let’s see what works and what doesn’t, and set yet another goal and take the steps to get there. My inner sense of self-evaluation resets the clock of recommitment. Over the last 18 years of my reporting career, I’ve reevaluated myself many times over. As any reporter who is living through the constant evolution of technology and the dire need to meet the ever-changing demands of our profession by and through our clientele, I’ve progressed, as I know you have, some days by leaps and bounds and other days merely through baby steps. My writing skills have improved. I have a sense of maturity that I couldn’t have had as a young reporter. But none of this happened overnight, and not much of my success can be attributed to luck and good timing. As with any goal worth achieving, I’ve taken quiet time to determine where I’d like to be and what it will take to get me there. I’ve taken forward steps to sometimes change and hone my writing skills by taking seminars at conferences, practicing at home, and seeing it to fruition on the job. I’m not a person who sits idly by and watches the grass grow, and I don’t want you to settle for that either. I need to be where the action is, challenging the future, and accepting the changes mandated by time. As you might have guessed, there is no room for complacency in our wonderful world of reporting! This profession, which feeds my personal desire to be challenged, needs to be served by the best and the brightest, those who look to the future with unclouded and undoubting vision. I can’t name any other profession which teaches something new every day, whether it’s the vocabulary I’m exposed to, the newsworthy topic being debated, or the new brief I’m committing to memory because the witness is flying at 250 wpm. So what drives you? Why do you continue to be a court reporter? Do you feel burned out and ready to throw in the towel, or do you feel this need to recharge your batteries and discover once again the enthusiasm for your profession which you didn’t even realize that you’d lost? Take some time to reevaluate before you begin this season. Reorganize your thoughts and find the tools to reenergize. If you’re frustrated or you think the dust on the old mantel is a bit thick, let OCRA help! Our fall conference will reignite the flames of your passion so you, too, can become the reporter you were meant to be. Get away to Cincinnati, enjoy a few hours with your fellow colleagues and an afternoon of fun at Kings Island. If you’re already in a good place, share it with someone! Amie First is developing a student mentoring program. Won’t you share the wealth of your knowledge and the contagiousness of your enthusiasm with someone who’s just starting and perhaps a bit unsure of the road ahead? Watch your mail for our upcoming boot camps. Since certification will be a reality within the next year, we want to help you strive to be the best you can be by providing you the roadmap with all the landmarks. If you still need your RPR or RMR, attend a boot camp. If you know a fellow reporter who does not have his or her RPR, be the messenger instead of a silent partner. Provide encouragement and convince him or her to act now instead of later when it may be too late. We have raised the bar of our profession and will continue to do so. Certification will guarantee our first-row seats to the future. We are here to help you in your efforts, whatever they are. We are here to keep you informed of important goings-on in Ohio. We are here to help support and maintain the high standards of the court reporting and captioning worlds. We can’t do this without your support. We need each other. We need your prompt renewal fees and participation in fundraising. We are a nonprofit organization and your renewals will only be used for the betterment of and in furtherance of our mission. From the Fall 2006 Buckeye Record - Certification Myths: Linda Sturm, RDR, CRR, CBC, CCP, Certification Task Force Member Rumors always abound when something new is on the horizon. What is fact and what is fiction? If you hear a “certification rumor” that makes you feel uneasy, please feel free to contact OCRA, and we can hopefully let you know if that rumor is fact or fiction. Just log on to www.OCRAonline.com, and go to the “contact” tab and e-mail any questions you have. Because we are still in the planning process, we may not be able to answer everything, but we may be able to let you know if it’s a possibility or not. Just to quell some rumors that have arisen thus far: • You will NOT need a bachelor’s degree to become certified. • You will NOT have to have graduated from an NCRA accredited court reporting program. • You will NOT be mandated to be a member of any association. From the Winter 2006 Buckeye Record - Certification Update Linda Sturm, RDR, CRR, CBC, CCP - Public Relations & Technology Chair On the certification front, everything is still going along very well. Our task force group has met monthly, and we have accomplished much. At the next meeting of the Certification Task Force, we will hopefully be wrapping up our final recommendations to send to Chief Justice Moyer. Most of the recommendations made by the participants at the OCRA conference in March 2006 have been made a part of what will be submitted. The members of the task force have asked that some of the final decisions, such as the type of testing and number of CEUs required, be made by the advisory board that will be appointed to oversee certification. These recommendations will still have various layers to go through. We should hope to see implementation of certification possibly by the end of 2007, beginning of 2008. As we have advised in the past, the best course of action for all court reporters at this time is to obtain the RPR designation. Although there is no guarantee that the RPR will be the mandatory examination, it most likely will at least allow you to apply for certification without testing. I will be posting an update to the certification issues on the www.OCRAonline.com Web site before the end of the year. From the February 2007 Buckeye Record Speed Read - Ohio Certification Task Force Report: Linda Sturm, RDR, CRR, CBC, CCP, OCRA Certification Task Force Representative The Certification Task Force of the Ohio Supreme Court continues to meet. We are working on the parameters for certification of court reporters. We expect to have our work completed in March or April, 2007. Our recommendations will then be submitted to Chief Justice Moyer, who will review them with the other justices. They may make changes or recommendations to what we submit. As of this point they seem to be very much in line with the suggestions of the membership at the 2006 Annual Conference. For more information, see the article by Bruce Matthews in the Buckeye Record following that conference. Though the task force has worked very efficiently, it is still a process that takes time. However, OCRA encourages reporters who are currently not RPRs to obtain RPR certification. There is certainly nothing to lose by taking the examination at this time. If certification does then become a reality by the end of the year or in 2008, you will likely be grandfathered for your Ohio certification and will only need to apply rather than test. From the April 2007 Buckeye Record Speed Read - President’s Message: Yolanda Walton, RPR “Highway to the Danger Zone” is an appropriate theme for our profession. I’ve been reporting for 21 years. And even before I started reporting, while still in school, the comments were... why don’t they just tape-record it, voice recognition is going to put you out of a job. Our profession has always been challenged by those that think that we’re obsolete or there’s a better way. I’m here to tell you that we are the “Top Guns” of taking the spoken word and converting it to the written word. Now, does this mean that we don’t face challenges with alternative technology and the budget crisis in our courts? Of course not. But what profession or person doesn’t face challenges? Look at the tremendous challenges our armed forces, young men and women serving in Iraq, face every day to protect us and our freedoms and our way of life. I’m sure everyone in this room is related to or knows of someone who has served in the military over the years. So when faced with a challenge, what do you do? What do you think our Navy Seals or the men and women who are honored with the Silver Star for heroism in combat do? Do they cower or say, it’s not my fight or I can’t do this? No. They step up to the challenge and they do what it takes to conquer it. They disregard their personal gains, and they do what it takes to protect themselves and, more importantly, their unit, their comrades. We are no different. As a profession we are individuals of freelance, officials, captioners, and CART writers. But we are one within the verbatim reporting profession. We need to set aside our personal gains and work toward protecting our unit, our profession. Sure we’re going to face challenges, and these are not individual issues. These are battles of the profession. What affects one will affect all. Standing together as a unit, and with our intensive training, our technology and our numbers, we can survive and we can conquer. If you see that a fellow reporter is struggling or is overwhelmed, forget that they may be a competitor. Offer to help them. We are all one within this profession. When we help an individual through a professional crisis and enable them to regroup or rejuvenate, our group as a whole becomes stronger. When we use the latest software and equipment that we can, we strengthen our worth. We are not alone. We have allies. The Supreme Court of Ohio is working to put in place certification. Certification will enhance our standing in the legal environment. The judges and lawyers who understand and appreciate the importance of the record are our allies. The members of the hard-of-hearing community that are assisted by our CART reporters and captioners, they are our allies. I’ve named just a few communities that respect and rely on what we do. There are other communities to reach out and build allegiances with, but before we can build new, we have to decide to be the “best of the best.” So during the next year, I would challenge you to embrace our technology. Write realtime, even if it’s for yourself. Update your equipment and software. If you are a realtime writer, assist a reporter who is not. If you’re not writing realtime, then make it your goal to become that “elite” reporter. With your support, our Association will continue to be the best of the best. Together our profession will continue to be the “Top Guns” of taking the spoken word and putting it to the written word. Before I conclude, I have to acknowledge my special forces team: My husband Mark, also known as Wally, my son Patrick, daughter Rachael.... my mom Betty, faithful sponsor to OCRA’s silent auction, and my dear brother, Patrick. Of course, always with me is my forever proud father. Without their support I couldn’t do what I do at work, at play, and for this association, which is work and play combined. So thank you for your love, support, and encouragement. So here’s to the “best of the best.” We are the elite. We are the Ohio Court Reporters Association! From the June 2007 Buckeye Record Speed Read - President’s Message: Yolanda Walton, RPR First, I want to thank everyone who completed their convention evaluations. We look forward to reviewing what you think and the ideas that you have for making the convention bigger and better. We had so many positive remarks. Thank you! What has been happening since the convention? April 25th, I had the privilege of attending Chief Justice Thomas Moyer’s Address to the General Assembly on the State of the Judiciary at the statehouse in Columbus. Past President Linda Sturm also attended. The statehouse was full of dignitaries, including Governor Ted Strickland and all of the Supreme Court Justices and various other judges from Courts of Appeals and Common Pleas Courts. During his address, Chief Justice Moyer said ... the court reporters are the most important people in the courtroom, and yet there are no minimum standards set. At the request of the Ohio Court Reporters Association, I have put in place a Certification Task Force to make recommendations as to the minimum standards that court reporters should meet. The task force will be making their recommendations in the near future. It’s obvious that Chief Justice Moyer believes in the importance of our certification. If you’re not an RPR, plan on taking the test in November. On a more personal note, Huron County welcomed our new judge. The Honorable James W. Conway took his oath of office as the Common Pleas General Division Judge for Huron County on May 4, 2007. On May 11th, 2007, we said farewell to The Honorable Earl R. McGimpsey. He retired after twelve years of distinguished service to our citizens. Just one county away, in Erie County, Judge Ty Tone now has Chris Carbary, a stenographic court reporter, making the record of his trials and hearings. The Court had been utilizing CourtSmart exclusively. Congratulations to Court Reporter Chris Carbary and Judge Ty Tone! May 18th was a busy day for OCRA. District A had their district meeting. Thank you, Rose Day and Sue Terry for all of your hard work. It was nice to see those that attended. Also on May 18th, Anne McBrayer and Amie First presented a realtime demonstration at the Court Technology Conference held in Canton. Assisting them by being present at the OCRA booth was: Sarah Nageotte from Ashtabula County, Tina Masters from Stark County, and Becky Park from Portage County. Thank you, Ladies! I’m looking forward to seeing as many of you as possible at the OCRA Cardinal Foundation’s Annual Golf Outing July 7, 2007. Have a great summer! From the August 2007 Buckeye Record Speed Read - President’s Message: Yolanda Walton, RPR Hello, Everyone! First of all, I want to thank those who attended the annual Cardinal Foundation Golf Outing. It was a great time even for those of us who didn’t golf. Special thanks to Kerry Paul, Michele Eddy, Donna Karoscik, and Bill Zaremba! An outstanding job by all. Ottawa County Court Reporter Jane Held had a wonderful article regarding her duties as an official court reporter published in the Sandusky Register. Jane is definitely an ambassador of the court reporting profession. Certification. It’s a scary term for many. Testing! Yikes. You know many of us have that fear of testing. We’ve been reporting for years and haven’t taken a test since we’ve been out of school. As a reporter of 22 years, my testing days have long since passed. I passed my written knowledge test while still in school. I didn’t take the skills portion of the RPR again until I had been reporting for ten years. I work in a small county and having those initials didn’t mean anything to the lawyers or the judges. To be honest, it didn’t matter to me. I knew that I was a good reporter. I didn’t need a test to tell me so. After all, I worked for a judge and if he wasn’t happy with my work, I’m sure he’d let me know. Here’s a secret that I don’t often share: My husband basically “shamed” me into taking the RPR exam. I was an OCRA District Director at the time and was the only person on the board that didn’t have any initials after my name. It bothered my husband tremendously. To make peace in my household, I gathered up my nerves and registered to take the test. The day of the test arrived and everything went wrong that could go wrong. I got lost going to the testing site and then misplaced my admission ticket. Having arrived late, I was a bit frazzled by the time I went to write the test. I figured in my state of mind, it wasn’t going to happen. I wrote the test basically because I had paid my money. I was sure that I couldn’t pass it since my nerves were already shot. Once the three legs of the test were given, I thought I might as well write it up just to see. But, of course, my printer wouldn’t work! I had to borrow a fellow reporter’s printer. I transcribed the test. I waited on the results, and lo and behold, I passed. When I opened the envelope from NCRA that said I had passed, that feeling was euphoric! Keep in mind, this was something I didn’t feel I needed and I didn’t necessarily want. But, I have to say that sense of accomplishment was strictly a “wow.” When it comes to certification, please keep an open mind. Take your RPR. Do it for yourself or your husband or best friend, just do it. The feeling of gratification is well worth it. We all have testing jitters. But, the reality is every time we sit at our machine and write an assignment, we are taking a test. To assist you in getting over the testing hurdles, OCRA has implemented mock RPR exams. Please take advantage of these opportunities. Supreme Court Task Force Member and Past President of OCRA Linda Sturm has written a thorough article regarding certification. It’s well worth the read. There’s a tremendous amount of information, including frequently asked questions. As court reporters we look at ourselves as being professionals. We want others to see us in that light. Certification will help our image as professionals. Embrace the challenge! From the August 2007 Buckeye Record Speed Read – Certification Update: Ohio court reporters closer to being among the 30 states with certification/licensure: Linda Sturm, RDR, CRR, CCP, CBC - OCRA Past President, OCRA Public Relations Chair, Ohio Supreme Court Task Force Representative Want a manicure or pedicure? The person who performs such service must be licensed in the state of Ohio. Need to have those sideburns trimmed? Yes, the barber must be licensed. Want to construct a house, sell a house, survey the land, appraise a house? Yes, mandatory certification or licensure. Want to be a massage therapist? Take a test. Own an ambulance service? Be licensed. Doctors, lawyers, nurses, aestheticians, chiropractors, veterinarians, auctioneers, engineers, social workers, radiology technologists, hearing aid distributors, pharmacists, dietitians, landscape architects, speech and language pathologists…. Yes, the list goes on, they all require certification, licensing, State testing. Court reporters are responsible for the record of proceedings created within our judicial system. Yet, Ohio has absolutely no minimum standards regarding the skills of such person creating and transcribing the proceedings. I’m preaching to the choir when I reiterate to you the important details that are in every transcript of every hearing held in every court. Whether a $2,500 civil action or a murder trial with death penalty specifications, every case is important to every participant involved. The minimum standard regarding skill is only a part of certification. Court reporter certification demonstrates to the judicial system and the public that the court reporter not only has the requisite skills to perform the job, but also that they are independent, unbiased, unrelated, moral, and ethical. Since the Report and Recommendations of the Supreme Court of Ohio Task Force on the Certification of Court Reporters was released this past month, there have been a few inquiries. If one person has a question, others may have the same. OCRA has posted answers to several of the more common questions we have received. Please visit www.OCRAonline.com to view the questions and answers. If your questions are not covered in the Web article, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, subject: Certification. From the December 2007 Buckeye Record Speed Read – From A Past President: The following e-mail was received and is reprinted with the permission of Marilyn Hall, OCRA Past-President, 1983. It is certainly reassuring to see the support of a past president as we continue in our endeavors to achieve certification in Ohio. I know that we are all very thankful to the past boards and members who have paved the way and whose efforts have kept our association strong. Dear Linda, I read with great interest the article you wrote, entitled “Working Toward Certification in Ohio,” which appeared in the November issue of JCR. Kudos to you and Bruce for hours of dedication to finalize this situation in Ohio. It was my goal, as OCRA president in 1983, to bring certification to Ohio, and I recall approaching Tom Moyer about that issue soooo long ago! At that time, Dennis Hagestrom and I also appeared before the legislature to present OCRA’s view but our efforts were to no avail. At that time, many states, whose association memberships comprised smaller numbers than ours in Ohio, had already been successful in establishing certification and I felt that Ohio displayed a very black eye because of our failure to bring it to bear in Ohio’s legal community. The court reporting profession has become far more complicated than it was 25 years ago, and I believe that your efforts have covered the multitudinous bases with aplomb! Many blessings, Marilyn From the February 2008 Buckeye Record Speed Read – Mock Exams To Be Offered: OCRA encourages everyone to register for the Written Skills Exam to be held in April and the Certification Skills Exams to be held in May. To support your testing endeavors, OCRA is offering Mock RPR, RMR, or CRR exams to help you prepare. These mock exams will be held on March 8 at locations in Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati. The mock exams allow you the opportunity to acquaint yourself with the site of the exam, receive dictation practice, as well as write to a mock test. The exam will be an actual test from a previous year. We will also provide speedbuilding and test anxiety tips. With mandatory certification efforts underway, there is no better time than now to sit for the RPR exam. Visit www.OCRAonline.com for more details.