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  • 14 Oct 2020 9:05 PM | Christopher Reho (Administrator)

    For a COVID year, your board has been busier than any other year. I have to say again how blessed I feel to have such a dedicated, energetic, enthusiastic group to work with for this association. We have had to have more emergency pop-up meetings than ever in VCRA’s history. We have come across, as many professions have come across, the necessity to add new policies to conform to the new circumstances we are living in.

    We were disappointed to have to postpone our convention at Lynchburg again due to COVID. Based on the questionnaire and feedback, even if registrants weren’t worried about COVID, they would find wearing a mask for that many hours uncomfortable and it just wouldn’t be as fun if we had to maintain such distance. The Virginian was amazing to work with and we’re happy to say we’re keeping the date March 2022 in place with them and Mark Kislingbury. We would have loved to make it for 2021, but due to what we’re hearing with when Jepson Hall would take reservations again, when movie theatres would be playing long-awaited movies, when courts will have trials, when other associations are still planning virtual conventions into mid-2021, we felt it safest to lock in a realistic date.

    BUT...we have moved quickly to put together a one-day virtual convention on Saturday, November 14, that will include our beloved 50/50, some fantastic door prizes, and a social for registrants at the end of the day. By now you have received the information. We just can’t get enough tech advice and Kristina Tan and Michele Eddy will have their latest and greatest tips. We also will have John Stirrup there to help us feel comfortable going to our representatives with issues that concern us and how to establish a relationship with our representatives. We’ll also get a recap on the efforts for the last bill and have open Q&A. And we’ll have national award-winning health journalist Pilar Gerasimo to talk about our circadian rhythms and more. You won’t want to miss it.

    Speaking of pushing things out because of COVID, we have followed guidelines for the retention of our notes for seven years on civil matters. You may want to just hold onto them two or so years longer because of trials being pushed off. I’ve had trials scheduled to go March 2021 and being told they’ll get back to me for a date in 2023. Yes, 2023. So I thought, gosh, I started depositions in that case in 2014. We’re just going to need a little bit more cloud storage.

    We have had so many of our members turn to us for assistance in getting answers to questions that we are happy to give or get the answers to if we don’t already know it.

    As mentioned in the summer issue, we tried to get answers to questions that, yes, still keep coming up about where the reporter needs to be to swear in the witness, do you need to ask to see their ID, do you need to record the ID and oath. Christopher Reho, your membership chair, and I met with two associates of the Supreme Court of Virginia via WebEx to express the concerns members have brought before us. I particularly brought up security concerns about asking for ID in front of other participants on camera, keeping that recording, storing that recording, and why is it a judge or a clerk, even in person, never asks to see the ID of a witness before they’re sworn in? Shouldn’t we be governed by the same rules? The Secretary of the Commonwealth has stated it sounds like our duties should fall under the court system, yet we’re directed back to the Secretary of the Commonwealth by the Supreme Court. The Commonwealth Electronic Notary Handbook says we have to ask for their ID. We gave examples of how other states are giving Supreme Court mandates regarding

    the court reporters’ duties, this would forego having to follow the Electronic Notary Handbook, which really seems to be geared more towards signing agents. We discussed the questions we commonly get: Does it have to be a Virginia case and you can swear a witness in that is located in another state? Does the reporter have to be in Virginia to administer the oath? We were directed by the Supreme Court back to legal counsel (trust me, we’ve done that), to continue to reach out to the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s Office, and Statute Va. Code Va. Code 47.1-6.1. Do I have a plan C for getting us clarity? You betcha.

    National Paralegal Day is October 23. Reach out to a paralegal and let them know you appreciate them. VCRA has reached out to the various paralegal associations throughout the Commonwealth during Virginia’s Paralegal Week. We have come up with some of their input of what they would like to see from reporters and we have shared with them what reporters would like. It also encourages them to utilize reporting services from our member CCRs.

    I, for one, am happy not to be sweating…sweating from summer and sweating from worry. We do have a convention! And the fall leaves are beautiful. Looking forward to seeing you on Saturday, November 14.

    Donna Linton, RMR,CCR,CLR

    VCRA President

  • 1 Oct 2020 1:07 PM | Christopher Reho (Administrator)

    The VCRA is very excited to announce the relaunch of our VCRA Voluntary Certified Court Reporter Program. As you are likely aware, the CCR, which is administered by the Virginia Court Reporters Association, is the only state-based certification for court reporters in the Commonwealth of Virginia. We have endeavored to update the program to better reflect our changing industry and provide new avenues for obtaining CEUs.

    While we have made changes, the core requirements for the CCR remain the same. To qualify, one must be a member of the VCRA in good standing and abide by all rules, policies, and procedures of the program and the VCRA. Once approved, the member must obtain 2.0 CEUs each three-year cycle.

    Our relaunched CCR program now provides greater flexibility for obtaining and applying CEUs. As always, CEUs can be obtained by attending NCRA-, NVRA- and VCRA-sponsored events. Now, CEUs can also be obtained for providing pro bono services, attending college courses and serving on a VCRA board or committee. Additionally, if you exceed 2.0 CEUs in a given three-year cycle, a portion of those CEUs may be carried over into the new cycle.

    Along with this relaunch, the VCRA plans to aggressively promote the CCR to the Virginia legal community. We want attorneys and paralegals to know that, if they hire a CCR, they are in good hands. To this end, the VCRA has created a new logo for the CCR designation. Reporters who have their CCR are free to use this logo in marketing and all other communications.

    We know many of you have proudly displayed your CCR designation on your business card for years, and we hope the changes we have implemented will further advance this program. If you’re a Professional member without a CCR designation, we hope you’ll consider applying. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact the CCR Committee at ccr@vcra.net.

    With warm regards,

    The Virginia Court Reporters Association Board of Directors

  • 11 Sep 2020 2:11 PM | Christopher Reho (Administrator)

    Dear VCRA members, sponsors, vendors, speakers and friends,

    After careful consideration of the comments from members and the widespread health risks posed by COVID-19, we have made the difficult decision to cancel our 2020 Convention scheduled for October 22-24 in Lynchburg, VA. Due to the circumstances, all registration fees will be fully refunded and checks will be mailed to all registrants. The hotel has been very gracious in working with us throughout this difficult time. We ask that you cancel your room reservation as soon as possible to allow the hotel to open those rooms up for other reservations, if possible. The number for The Virginian Hotel is 434-329-3200.

    Please know that this decision was not taken lightly. Having the opportunity to interact with our members in person is our favorite time of the year. However, the ongoing pandemic has made the logistics of holding a large in-person event paired with health risks while traveling for our members increasingly difficult. Most importantly, the health, comfort and safety of our members, speakers and vendors are our highest priority.

    VCRA is working on a virtual program to offer CEUs for this November, and details will follow soon. We appreciate your patience as we strive to work through the logistics of the cancellation and finalizing an enjoyable and educational virtual experience for you.

    VCRA Board of Directors

  • 27 Aug 2020 9:48 AM | Christopher Reho (Administrator)

    In keeping with VCRA's bylaws, Article XII, Amendments, Section 2, we are notifying you of proposed bylaw amendment changes 60 days prior to the annual business meeting set for October 24, 2020, in Lynchburg, Virginia. Please go to the link below to review.

    Click here to review proposed bylaw amendments.

  • 14 Jul 2020 8:40 PM | Christopher Reho (Administrator)

    Hopefully this message finds you adjusting to your new normal. It definitely has been a whirlwind of constant changes the past three months and, for most, extremely stressful keeping up with: the informational webinars, online platform trainings, electronic sticker marking, knowing what are the electronic notary rules, will I get unemployment or PPP or EIDL, does this mask offend anyone, and listening to the voices through the computer say, “Can you hear me now?”

    There have been some wonderful and less exhausting events. We’ve had some virtual Zoom happy hours that have been informational and fun. I know some reporters have enjoyed the downtime to visit with family or help family.

    The board of VCRA has been staying very busy for you. You’ll see in this issue a Q & A article about the electronic notary. Though I had a very pleasant conversation with the Commonwealth Notary Commission Office, I was unable to get responses to the questions. It just solidifies for me, as your president, as a reporter, as an agency owner, how our profession has very little guidance even with a notary license. They just don’t know what to do with us. We don’t fit into the typical notary practice. I do plan to have our voices be heard in a different venue, virus or no virus.

    The convention committee has spoken with the hotel and we have peace of mind knowing we can successfully hold our convention with social distancing. Their ballroom is more than adequate to accommodate social distancing for our seminars and meals being served by staff.

    We added a Facebook Members-Only page to help lend clarity when members are reaching out for help or to discuss topics that pertain to Virginia procedures so not to be confused by other wonderful state’s suggestions. Our volunteer seamstresses Michele Eddy, Tasiana Basdekis, and Rose Marie Adams created three different style masks to give to our members. The idea was thought of early on. Once we saw there was no escaping wearing them, the material we had preselected was ordered and they were fast at work.

    We had our first board meeting in person with social distancing in Richmond on June 20. I feel so blessed to have a great board working for us. They are enthusiastic, have tons of ideas, are implementing those ideas, and are always speaking about what is best for the members. With social distancing in place, one of the hardest things to plan for is career education days. We still don’t know what the school schedule is going to look like, but we have some ideas of how to bring attention to our profession.

    On behalf of our members, I wrote to VTLA to remind them to go to VCRA’s membership directory for hiring a court reporter. We have CCRs that take their continuing education serious like they do. Why wouldn’t they want to reach out to you for reporting services first, right? We all stick together to be the best that we can, so why wouldn’t they want the best!

    Also, I wrote on behalf of VCRA to the Supreme Court Task Force on Jury Trials requesting they consider putting a court reporter on their task force to give input on bench conferences, seeing witnesses without a mask to testify, courtroom setup, and the like.

    Finally, I leave you with this little story and thought that popped into my head walking my dog a few weeks ago. We’re going around the lake like we usually do for our afternoon stroll, and I say hello to fellow neighbors passing by. Most are wearing masks. I notice that they don’t look up. They barely say hello. It’s as if looking down will keep them safe. It’s as if not saying a word will keep me safe. We have to take precautions, yes. But we cannot look down. We cannot stay silent. When reporting remotely, if you can’t hear, say something. We have to protect the record. It’s our job. When together in a room, hold your head up high. You are the MVP, as one attorney just told me today. Be the strong protector of the record. Spread your love of the profession, not your germs: get your free member mask.

    Looking forward sharing in an educational and roaring fun time with you October 23 in Lynchburg, VA.

    Donna Linton, RMR,CCR,CLR

    VCRA President

  • 2 Jul 2020 8:34 AM | Christopher Reho (Administrator)

    The membership level "Professional without CCR" has been renamed to "Professional."  Besides the name change, all other aspects of this membership level remain the same.

  • 16 Jun 2020 1:11 PM | Christopher Reho (Administrator)

    The location of the VCRA Board meeting on June 20, 2020, has changed.  The new address is listed below.

    Doubletree by Hilton Richmond Midlothian

    1021 Koger Center Blvd

    Richmond, VA 23235

  • 16 Apr 2020 12:51 PM | Christopher Reho (Administrator)

    We are excited to announce the VCRA Members Group on Facebook, a brand new membership benefit.  This is a private Facebook group for VCRA members only where you can ask questions, get to know your fellow members and have fun!

    To join, simply click the link below and request to join the group.  Of course, you need to be a member of VCRA (Join here). The $50 Membership Drive is still running!

    Join Now!

    With warm regards,

    The Virginia Court Reporters Association Board of Directors

    Policies and Procedures:

    • The VCRA Members Group is to be utilized in a manner that encourages informative and effective communication and discussion.

    • Members are encouraged to share advice, ask questions, and share ideas with each other respectfully and professionally.

    • Administrators and moderators have discretion to remove posts that do not comply with these policies. Posts that are deemed personal, business, or political attacks will be removed immediately.

    • The opinions expressed by members of the group do not reflect those of the VCRA.

  • 15 Apr 2020 1:04 PM | Christopher Reho (Administrator)

    I certainly didn’t think I would be writing my first President’s Message as your president without having our convention and annual board meeting. These are definitely unique times we’re living through, and as one reporter, Anita Glover pointed out, would rather be reading about them in history.

    The Roaring ‘20s we are living in a very different way than we imagined. We’re certainly not able to live it up with themed gatherings or even able to celebrate momentous occasions. This virus has affected us all in our professional lives as well. Yet I have noticed how so many have reached out with support, financial information, free trainings, free dictations, free grammar classes, discounts on maintenance and remote services, and the list goes on. You see the evidence daily of what a great group of professionals we are, helping each other, supporting each other, despite some differences of opinions we had prior to the virus on licensure, methods, rates.

    Times like these can bring out the worst in people, as the expression is used. It’s panic. It’s normal. A lot of reporters are geared to feast or famine, and it seems this is a famine none of us have seen. But we are all in this together. We’re not the only profession that is having to adjust and adapt. One thing to keep in mind to adapt is living in the moment. Life doesn’t wait for us to get over our imaginary fears and worries. It’s going to keep moving on. Move on with it is what you have control over. Take this time now to embrace new technology so you can move on with it. Remote depositions might become a more routine avenue for deposing out-of-state witnesses after all of this is over with to save attorneys’ clients’ money for travel. It will save you as the reporter the cost of parking, high tolls, wear and tear on your vehicle. And it is certainly going to give you more quality time at home and time to get your transcripts out faster. I know, for me, that is something I want to embrace.

    VCRA has been working hard to help get the Governor to enter an emergency order to allow those having difficulty obtaining their electronic notary to keep the wheels of justice rolling along and keeping us a part of it. VCRA has been helping members and nonmembers successfully submit their electronic notary applications. VCRA has written to the VA Lawyers Weekly to let them know that many of VCRA’s members have their electronic notary license and are Zoom proficient and ready to work for their subscribers. VCRA has been here to answer your questions the best we can. We want to thank all of the members for your contributions and suggestions towards these efforts, especially Linda Kia and Misty Klapper.

    Your new VCRA board wants to thank all of our registrants, speakers, vendors and sponsors for your patience while we successfully worked through the logistics in the most cost-effective way possible to move the convention to October. We are so looking forward to seeing everyone there and the fall leaves will be a hit as well as our speakers.

    We still have a ways to go to get through this quarantine. Please feel free to reach out to VCRA for any help you may need or suggestions you have. We wish you much good health and happiness and please don’t forget…wash your hands.

    Donna Linton, RMR,CCR,CLR

    VCRA President

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