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President's Message -- Fall 2021

18 Oct 2021 5:56 AM | Christopher Reho (Administrator)

Welcome cool breezes and colorful landscapes. I hope you all enjoyed your summer. From what I have heard around the state, it sure has been a busy one workwise.

In the President’s Message in the Summer newsletter, I informed members of my writing to Fairfax Circuit Court Chief Judge Penney S. Azcarate along with the sheriff’s department requesting they reconsider giving ID badges to VCRA members for entry into the building. I received a genuinely nice letter back in August from Chief Judge Azcarate starting off with her expression of great appreciation for the work all the court reporters do at the courthouse and gratitude for our commitment and patience in and outside the courtroom as being exemplary. Though it is not the outcome I wanted -- we were declined the ability to receive ID cards. She explained she did meet with the Courthouse Security Committee to discuss the matter. She acknowledged that other jurisdictions have different rules, but with 35 courtrooms and over 1,000 people a day entering the building, and with growing security issues, they just would not be issuing IDs to those other than court employees and “licensed” attorneys. If anyone has a medical issue, you can notify the sheriff’s department upon entry and special procedures will be deployed to get you through security.

You know how we have struggled with the rules of giving the oath remotely; how what the Secretary of the Commonwealth Notary rules do not really mesh with how, say, the Clerk of the Court administers the oath? It apparently is no different for lawyers. I have had a few conversations concerning whether a witness has a right to read their deposition transcript if it has been given de bene esse (for trial), and even if it was video just for discovery. Rule 4:7(A)(f) unequivocally states Rule 4:5(3) - governing deposition submission to the witness for changes - does not apply to audio-visual depositions. I was told by more than one attorney that The Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia thus clearly dictate errata sheet changes to audio-visual depositions is a nullity and may not be used at the trial of a matter or for any purpose. And yet another attorney shared that he had argued this to the Supreme Court on appeal, and they overruled. So moving forward, you can only do what all parties agree to at the time of closing out the deposition regarding this, and if there is no agreement, include the errata sheet with your transcript and let counsel do their thing: fight it out later, if they deem necessary.

When you are president of a state association, you get put onto NCRA’s Leader Board, which is an email system that you are included on important information from NCRA and other state leaders. Presidents and vice presidents can collaborate on ideas for speakers at conventions, sharing scholarship information, what new laws are being implemented in your state, and how to get members more involved in their association, to name a few. I was surprised to find out for 20 years Vermont has not had an association. I had not noticed because there are a few reporters that still collaborate with attorneys, paralegals, lawmakers and make it look effortless and like they have a full-blown association. We are so lucky in Virginia to have as many reporters as we do be together as one family in their association, VCRA. We are lucky to have as many agencies as we do that are supportive with their sponsorship, and to have the associate members show an interest in our profession. The board does a lot, and we are always open to hearing what else you might like to see from your state association.

A common theme that has come into my email is what are we going to do about how busy we are and filling the demand for reporters. I know a lot of reporters cannot or will not go out in person. I know a lot of reporters have their own preference for whether they like to go to court or do not want to drive too far. Some would like to wind down and spend more time with family. I get it. What we need to do, together, is get more people into the profession. I am asking now every member to contact one high school. Just one. If everyone does this, at least 160 schools will have been contacted. Reach out and tell a guidance counselor what you do and tell them you would like to give their contact information to a program.

Give Michele Eddy, VCRA’s Education chair, at micheleeddy@gmail.com their name and email, and we will put them in touch with Project Steno. They will take it from there. Are you a voice writer? Great. Make that call, get their name and number, and Michele will direct them to NVRA. They have information for courses.

The Lawyer and Paralegal Liaison Committee has been in touch with a couple of the paralegal chapters across the Commonwealth to discuss having joint webinars, socials, and even a 5k race. This year’s National Paralegal Day is October 23. Be sure to reach out and acknowledge a paralegal or two that day.

We are really looking forward to seeing you in person March 25-27, 2022, at the Virginian in Lynchburg. We are so overdue for some real face time.

I hope you all have an enjoyable holiday season with your family and friends.

Donna Linton, RMR,CCR,CLR

VCRA President

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