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  • 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

  • 9 Sep 2021 3:51 PM | Christopher Reho (Administrator)

    Did you know that the Virginia Court Reporters Association has a scholarship fund?  We do!  And we are looking for our next recipient(s) of the Carolyn M. O’Connor Education Fund Scholarship, with an award of up to $1,000.

    If you are a student who is actively engaged in the study of court reporting, either enrolled in a traditional school setting or attending an online program, and you have completed at least 1 semester of court reporting school, along with passing at least 1 test at a minimum of 160 words per minute, then YOU should apply!

    Instructors, please encourage your students who qualify to apply!  The deadline for application submission is JANUARY 10, 2022.  The recipient(s) of the award will be notified by FEBRUARY 15, 2022, along with being invited as our guest to our 2022 Convention being held March 25th – 27th in beautiful Lynchburg, Virginia, where they will be recognized and receive their award, along with a 1-year membership to VCRA.

    You can download the application by contacting Rachel Cramer at coef@vcra.net or from our website www.vcra.net.

    Questions?  Please feel free reach out via social media, email, or telephone!

  • 14 Aug 2021 9:58 AM | Christopher Reho (Administrator)

    1 ticket for $25. No limit on the number of tickets purchased.

    The more you buy, the better your chances of winning!

    Click here to buy tickets!

    Each ticket has a chance to win one of the following fantastic four prizes:

    • Grand Prize: 4 tickets [plus parking pass] to the 11/14/21 Washington Football Team v. Tampa Bay Buccaneers game in Landover, MD.
    • Second Prize: 2 tickets to the 11/13/21 UVA v. Notre Dame game in Charlottesville, VA.
    • Third Prize: Authentic NFL Washington Redskins football signed by Adrian Peterson.
    • Fourth Prize: $150 NFL.com gift card.

    4 tickets to see the Washington Football Team play against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, November 14, 2021, at 1:00 PM at FedEx Field in Landover, MD, PLUS parking pass.

    Seats: Section 222, Row 16, Seat 21-24

    The parking pass details:

    A - Orange Parking Lot

    Sec ORGA, (General Admission)

    2 tickets to see the Virginia Cavaliers play against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Saturday, November 13, 2021, at Scott Stadium in Charlottesville, VA.

    2 Lower Level Seats : Section 122, Row GG, Seats 3 & 4

    Face value $300.00 ($150.00 each)

    These game tickets are very sought after and difficult to get!

    Authentic NFL Washington Redskins football signed by Adrian Peterson, one of the greatest running backs in NFL history.

    $150 NFL.com Gift Card.

    VCRA’s raffle will end ticket sales on Wednesday, September 8, 2021, at midnight.

    Raffle drawing will be on Facebook Live on Thursday, September 9, 2021 at 7:00 PM (EST).

    All proceeds go to VCRA’s Strongbox, our fund used to support the legislative efforts of the Virginia Court Reporters Association.

    All raffle tickets will be digital (NO paper tickets) and will be automatically logged. Your receipt is proof of entry.

    Game tickets will be digitally transferred to raffle winners. (Winner is permitted to resell tickets if they choose; we will work with winner to accomplish this)

    Questions? events@vcra.net

  • 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

  • 26 May 2021 10:16 AM | Christopher Reho (Administrator)

    It is hard to believe we are almost at the halfway mark of the year!   And it is that time of the year to renew your valuable membership. 

    For the past few years, the Board has discussed the need to raise the membership dues.  They actually haven’t been raised since 2005.  That’s over 15 years.  We were planning to implement it last year, but due to the unknown of what financial impact COVID would have, we postponed.  For Professional membership, the dues will now be $120.  For Professional members who hold a CCR, the renewal price will be $150 ($120 membership dues + $30 CCR renewal fee). 

    The Board has been getting the word out about the CCR, the only state-level certification program in the Commonwealth.  We have promoted it to paralegal associations and bar associations by sponsoring and attending their virtual conventions and meetings.  The dues increase will allow us to promote it even more enthusiastically in the coming years.  We are letting everyone know VCRA members are their only go-to professionals in the Commonwealth.  

    Save the date for Saturday, October 2nd for VCRA’s Virtual Wellness Webinar and Friday, March 25th through Sunday, March 27th, 2022, for the much anticipated in-person Roaring ‘20’s convention, in Lynchburg, Virginia.  We can’t wait to see you!

    Finally, renew early, and you could win!  Members who renew between now and June 15th will be entered into a drawing for a $50 Visa gift card.  Renewal reminders will start arriving in inboxes in about a week, but if you’d like to renew now, please click this link.

    Membership is a crucial part of VCRA’s mission to promote our profession.  We are stronger together.  Thank you for your continued support!

    With warm regards,

    Donna L. Linton, RMR-CCR-CLR

    President, VCRA

  • 26 Apr 2021 10:55 AM | Christopher Reho (Administrator)

    Spring has sprung, and more reporters are springing into action with in-person jury trials. There is a sense of happiness to be getting back into some normalcy with seeing friends and family in person, and apprehension about having to dress up and commute for job assignments. Some would be happy not to ever have to attempt a remote deposition or nonjury trial again. I’ve found it all depends on the quality of the WiFi and It’s not about the reporter being afraid of the technology.

    We definitely had more people comfortable attending virtually when we held our second virtual continuing education event on Saturday, March 20 for Spring Education Day. Our attendance doubled from November’s Zoomvention. It was a great success due to our generous sponsors and donators, our over 40 raffle prize winners, and fantastic speakers Margie Wakeman Wells and Kristina Tan. They got fantastic reviews, and we will be sure to have them back again soon. We had attendees share their past vacation photos. It was so nice to see the places people have traveled and enjoyed themselves. The survey results had everyone saying even when we can get together in person, for convenience, they would still like to see remote opportunities for CEUs. We will definitely be taking this feedback into consideration.

    We also announced on March 20 the results of our 2021/2022 election. Welcome to our new board members Linda Kia, Monica Anderson, and Alicia Greenland. We were really sad to see our student liaison Zelma Lee have to leave us after her two-year term was up, and we look forward to seeing her name on the ballot next year for a board position when she graduates. Lori McCoin Jones stepped off the board, but she will be helping out on committees when she can.

    If you’re an electronic notary, I’m sure you received the email from the Notary Commission pertaining to HB2064. Not on VCRA’s behalf, but on my own behalf, I did write the following: “I need clarification. Are you wishing the certification page of deposition transcripts to have this information – location of notary at time of administering the oath and whether remote or in person – or is this just for notarizing documents?” Response: “This is information that must be included in the notarial area of an electronic notarizations.” I wrote back: “When court reporters/notaries are swearing in a witness electronically, via Zoom, WebEx, Microsoft Teams, et cetera, do you consider that an electronic notary act where we have to put this information on our certification page that gets attached to the back of a transcript attesting to the fact that we swore the witness in, we’re not a party to the case, we have no financial interest in the outcome?” Okay. I realize that was quite a long sentence. Their response: “Please refer to the Handbook for information on allowed notarial acts and requirements. If it is not specifically listed, your question would be legal in nature and you will need to contact an attorney for guidance.”

    We’ve included in the newsletter the actual HB2064 bill, and I am going to reach out to the original authors to find out what their intent was. VCRA has already consulted a lawyer in the past about interpretations of the Handbook and at this point, as your president, I’ve gone in circles more than once with this with the Supreme Court and Notary Commission.

    Back in February I wrote to the Attorney General, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Supreme Court about issues members have brought to us of email solicitations from overseas to do transcription, the notary questions that have continued to come up, concerns about pressing record on Zoom in place of a videographer, and anti-contracting laws not being enforced.

    Since we’re still under an Executive Emergency Order, education days have been virtual. The Education Committee made a video to share for virtual high school career days and had its first showing was at South Lakes High School located in Reston, Virginia. We’re reaching out to guidance counselors across the state to attend their virtual career days.

    You can read the January board meeting minutes to see what the board has been working on. If you would like to participate on a committee, please let us know. We are always looking for new ideas and perspective, and you will make a difference. One of the greatest rewards of donating your time to the board is the friends you make. One of the other greatest rewards is knowing you are helping so many people.

    We are hoping to have a board meeting in person in September and a social after. And we are very much looking forward to seeing everyone in Lynchburg for our much anticipated in-person convention March 25-27, 2022, with our headline speaker Mark Kislingbury. Be sure to save that date... again.

    Donna Linton, RMR,CCR,CLR

    VCRA President

  • 25 Mar 2021 11:38 PM | Christopher Reho (Administrator)

    The recipients of the 2021 Tayloe and Pro Bono Awards were announced at the VCRA Virtual Spring Education Day on March 20th, 2021.  Below are the videos of the announcements.  Congratulations to Gwenda Applegate for winning the Tayloe Award and Rose Adams for winning the Pro Bono Award!

    Tayloe Award

    Pro Bono Award

  • 22 Mar 2021 1:33 AM | Christopher Reho (Administrator)

    The VCRA would like to thank the sponsors and donors who helped make our Virtual Spring Education Day possible!

  • 22 Mar 2021 1:11 AM | Christopher Reho (Administrator)

    Our Virtual Spring Education Day was held on March 20th, 2021, and we're happy to say it was huge success!  90 attendees, great speakers and dozens of prizes given away (and don't forget the now famous wheel of names)!  Thank you to everyone who attended and contributed to make this Education Day so great!

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