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