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President's Message -- Summer 2021

14 Jul 2021 6:46 AM | Christopher Reho (Administrator)

“The heat is on…the heat is on, on, on….” I think that’s an ‘80’s song. It’s summertime, and the heat sure has been on. It’s about to get even hotter in Vegas and Georgia. NVRA has their annual convention July 29 in Savannah, Georgia, and one of our student liaisons, Monica Anderson, will be attending, as well as take her first certification test. We all wish her well and look forward to hearing how the convention goes in Savannah. The board had to designate their two NCSA delegates to serve for the 2021/2022 year and who were to attend in Las Vegas, Nevada, July 28 through the 30th. VCRA put forth a resolution regarding NCRA giving states some more advanced notice of their virtual webinars and conventions by sharing a Google calendar, as an example. Some states were taken by surprise to learn after having been approved for their March virtual seminars that NCRA was going to hold one on the same date. We don’t want our members to have to struggle with making a choice of whether to attend and support their national association or their state association on the same day. We’re also going to roll the dice and have our first social for VCRA members that are in Las Vegas after the annual business meeting. If you’re planning to attend NVRA convention or NCRA convention, please reach out and let me know. I would love for Monica to meet you in Georgia, and we’d love to see you in Vegas at Gordon Ramsay’s Pub & Grill.

Your board is planning to have their first in-person board meeting since June 2020 on Saturday, September 25, 2021, in Charlottesville with a social thereafter. Please save the date, and we’ll keep you posted on the details. Members are more than welcome to attend board meetings. We’re working for you. And you’re always more than welcome to work on committees. The more members involved, the more unity and strength we have in numbers.

I have so enjoyed members reaching out asking questions or looking for guidance. It is what I signed up for, to be helpful and to guide. It’s what the whole board signed up for. Any association’s goal is to help its members, as well as show solidarity and strength in their profession. I know the more seasoned reporters can remember first joining associations to get mentorship, make connections to find agencies to work for, to learn how to handle certain situations, to become stronger in their skill set. Wasn’t it worth it? It sure was to me. I know many students have come through and expressed how invaluable it has been to them. And the seasoned reporters want to continue to be involved to keep up with the ever-changing technology, commiserate, share war stories, and share solutions. Some have even become agency owners themselves and network to find reporters to help cover their clients. It is a win-win.

Our Lawyer and Paralegal Liaison Committee sponsored and put together a video for the Virginia State Bar Association’s virtual convention. It was so nice to be thanked for our support, and you can see that at VCRA’s Facebook page. We promoted hiring our members and agencies for assignments, explained our CCR program and how it’s the only body of certified court reporters in Virginia. We stressed scheduling early with agencies, as well as utilizing VCRA’s Pro Bono member volunteers.

I don’t know how every single court in Virginia works their security, but in Fairfax, they stopped giving out badges to court reporters unless they were part of the reporting pool for the criminal docket. I have become, quite honestly, tired of feeling like a criminal having to take off my shoes, step on an icky floor in paper shoes way too big for my size 6 feet, and be interrogated over the material in my new hips. I’ve had reporters express frustration over having “the list” taken away and having to go through the security scrutiny. I have written a letter to Fairfax Circuit Court chief judge and sheriff’s department asking them to reconsider giving badges to Virginia Court Reporter Association members. The biggest reason I was told they would not give us badges is because there was no governing body with which to complain to in order reprimand us, sanction us, like the lawyers are members of the bar association, so they can go to the bar associations for reprimanding. Gee, if we only had our licensure bill passed, we would have a governing body, right? Well, I’m suggesting that if they’re Virginia Court Reporter Association members, then there is a body with which to file a complaint. We have a CCR ethics complaint system in place. You wonder what would we be reprimanded for? Usually leaving the cell phone on, talking on the cell phone in court. Oh, it has happened.

I want to share something that came up in the last couple weeks. As many of you know, I have my own homegrown agency. I had a client reach out to me to express frustration over large price quotes to receive copies of two-hour depositions regular delivery. He explained there were exorbitant charges from the big-box agency that doesn’t even have a home office in the Commonwealth to the tune of $1,000. He also shared how the defense counsel forced to use the big-box agencies are not too happy either with their services. I discussed his option of filing a complaint in court because of the anti-contracting legislation that is in place. His idea was to just hire his own court reporter not to be the official record but just so he could purchase a reasonably priced transcript he could give to his expert witnesses. He’d be paying an original price to get a transcript that would be cheaper than the big-box agency’s cost for a copy. Now, big-box agencies are touting the shortage of court reporters. Is this really a good use of resources? Do you agencies and reporters really want to lose out on copy sales? I suggest those engaged in such practices rethink their business model. You are hurting your business and reporters’ livelihoods if this takes off as a practice utilized by attorneys who are fed up.

I hope everyone is able to go somewhere on vacation now that restrictions have been lifted. We all work hard and need time away to rejuvenate. I hope you all have a fabulous summer!

Donna Linton, RMR,CCR,CLR

VCRA President

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