CCRA-NJ Frequently Asked Questions:

F.A.Q's - Continuing Education

How to Become a Court Reporter

Certifications

Technology

Software

Scopists

Transcribing Interpreted Testimony


Q. When did the New Jersey State Board of Shorthand Reporting implement the CE regulation?

March 2001. Licensure of Certified Shorthand Reporters is biennial. When the CE regulation went into effect in 2001, we were approximately midway through the 2000-2002 licensing period. Therefore, the first year of mandatory CE, New Jersey CSRs were only required to earn a total of 8 CE credit hours by June 2002, which marked the end of the 2000-2002 licensing period.

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Q. How many CE credits do I need as a New Jersey CCR, and by when?

Between June 2014 and June 2016 (the current two-year licensing period), you need to earn 15 credits. If credits are earned within six months of the next licensing period, you may carry over up to 5 "extra" credits. The CCRA-NJ Annual Convention in 2016 will fall within that six-month period. So if you already have, for example, 10 of the 15 credits needed and you earn another 10 that weekend, you meet the 15 needed by June 2016 and carry over the extra five to the 2016-2018 licensing period, giving you a jumpstart on the 15 you'll need by then.

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Q. How are NJ CCR CE credits calculated?

Each seminar hour is equivalent to one (1) NJ CCR continuing education credit. Fifteen hours of CE are required in a two-year licensing period, the current period being June 2014-June 2016. The next renewal of your CCR license will be June 2016.

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Q. How are NCRA CE credits calculated?

Prior to July 1, 1999, NCRA awarded 2 CE credits per seminar hour. Those holding NCRA-sponsored certifications such as the RPR, RMR, RDR, CRR, CMRS, were required to earn 30 CE credits every three years, which translated into 15 hours since 2 credits were formerly awarded for every hour. On July 1, 1999, NCRA adopted the nationally-recognized continuing education unit or CEU. This CEU system measures CE hours in tenths; hence, one NCRA CE credit hour is equivalent to .10 CEU. NCRA now requires 3.0 CEU every three years, which translates into 30 hours of continuing education. (One hour = 0.10 CEU; ten hours = 1.0 CEU; thirty hours = 3.0 CEU) Although NCRA certificate holders are now required to earn twice the number of CE credits, the more restrictive core curriculum has been abolished and there's no longer a cap on the number of credits earned during one educational event. (It used to be restricted to a maximum of 24 credits per educational event, which forced certificate holders to attend at least two events per year to earn all their credits.) With the nationally-recognized CEU system, just about any professional development educational experience will earn NCRA-approved CEU, meaning a more diverse and broadly-based list of subject matter is now acceptable, making it easier to accumulate CEU than it was CE credits. NCRA CEUs always expire on September 30th, but the year varies depending on when your NCRA CEU cycle started. NCRA periodically issues CEU "transcripts" to its members. You can request a copy of your CEU "transcript" at any time by calling NCRA Member Services at 1-800-272-NCRA (6272) or clicking the CEU Transcript Request link on their website www.ncraonline.org.

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Q. Will the New Jersey State Board of Court Reporting accept NCRA-approved continuing education?

Most likely; however, the NJ State Board is more stringent in that programs, courses and seminars must specifically relate to court reporting. Although NCRA approves many holistic, therapeutic and health-based seminars, the NJ State Board may not. If you plan to participate in a program sponsored by an organization which has not applied for pre-approval by the NJ State Board, you must submit the course outline yourself and request review for approval in advance. To be on the safe side, restrict your NJ CCR continuing education endeavors to programs directly relating to court reporting and core curricula; i.e., English, Grammar, Punctuation, CAT, Theory, Writing Skills, Realtime, Business, Ethics. The Certified Court Reporters Association of New Jersey maintains a Continuing Education Page where you can read the complete language of the State Board of Court Reporting Continuing Education Regulation and learn more about acceptable courses and alternative means of earning continuing education.

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Q. If I cannot attend seminars sponsored by CCRA-NJ, are there other resources for earning NJ CCR CE credits?

Absolutely. Continuing education programs are sponsored by many individuals, state and national associations, and business organizations throughout the country, some available 24/7 via the internet, teleconferencing, and home study. Hundreds of seminars and courses directly relating to court reporting can be found with a little researching effort. Some CAT vendors and individual court reporters offer CE programs which have been pre-approved by both NCRA and the NJ State Board of Court Reporting. CCRA-NJ is your professional association and exists to serve the interests and needs of New Jersey reporters specifically. We sponsor and apply for approval of continuing education seminars throughout the year. The CCRA-NJ Annual Convention offers a wide variety of seminar topics with the opportunity to earn the most credits in one day. There is always a complimentary seminar after our November General Membership Meeting, and full and half-day seminars offered in the summer and fall.

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Q. Must I be a member of NCRA or CCRA-NJ to participate in the continuing education events they sponsor?

No. Everyone is cordially invited and encouraged to attend all continuing education events. Membership in state and national associations is voluntary and a matter of individual pride and professionalism. Although NCRA membership is mandatory to maintain any NCRA-sponsored certifications you may hold, the New Jersey CCR and CCR-R certifications are governed and regulated by the New Jersey State Board of Court Reporting. The biennial licensing fee and participation in 15 hours of continuing education per licensing period are required to maintain those state certifications. Association membership has its benefits, one of which includes discounts on seminar registration fees.

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Q. Who keeps track of my NJ CCR continuing education credits?

You do. The logic is based on the fact that NJ CCRs are able to participate in any approved programs and attend CE events anywhere, at any time; therefore, CCRA-NJ would have no way to monitor the ongoing continuing education activities of every individual reporter in the state. Certificates of Attendance, CE Verification Letters, and/or CE Punch Cards must be maintained by the individual NJ CCR or CCR-R until proof of CE participation is requested by the State Board of Court Reporting at the time of your license renewal. If you happen to hold NCRA certifications, as well as the CCR or CCR-R, your NCRA CE "transcript" may serve as a convenient tracking source.

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Q. How can I become a U.S. based Court Reporter?

A. In order to become a Court Reporter, you must first pass the Court Reporting Exams . When deciding where you want to conduct your training, you should be aware that only about a third of the 300 schools and colleges that offer court reporting are accredited by the National Court Reporters Association, one of whose requirements is to teach computer-aided transcription. If you believe that you can pass the exams by studying on your own, then a degree from one of these institutions is helpful, but not required.

There may be some additional requirements you must meet. Some states require Court Reporters to pass additional state-specific certification tests, such as the Certified Court Reporter (CCR) test or the Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) two-part exam. In addition, court reporters must also be notary publics in a few states.

The federal government stipulates that court reporters transcribe at least 175 words per minute to qualify for employment. Typically, private firms require a minimum of 225 words per minute.

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Q. What is the advantage to becoming a Registered Professional Reporter (RPR)?

A. The Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) program is the only nationally recognized certification program that establishes your competence as a reporter. It is generally regarded that this is the first phase in becoming a court reporter.

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Q. What is the RPR Exam?

A. NCRA administers the RPR Exam twice annually at over 100 sites across the U.S. and other selected locations--the first Saturday in May and the first Saturday in November.

To become an RPR, you must be able to produce a high-quality verbatim record. There are two parts to the examination -Written Knowledge Test and a Skills Test. The Written Knowledge Test is a 100-question, multiple-choice test that focuses on four areas--reporting (48%), transcript production (44%), operating practices (4%), and professional issues and continuing education (4%). You get 90 minutes to complete this section of the exam. A passing score is 70% or better.

The Skills Test challenges you with 15 minutes of dictation--five minutes each of literary matter at 180 wpm, jury charge at 200 wpm, and testimony/Q&A at 225 wpm. After the dictation, you get 3 and 1/2 hours to transcribe your notes. You must transcribe each section with 95% accuracy to pass.

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Q. What is the advantage to becoming a Registered Merit Reporter?

A. With your RMR, your peers and clients will recognize you as one of the top court reporters in the country. Your RMR gives you more opportunities for challenging and lucrative job assignments. Becoming a RMR is generally seen as a level of achievement worthy of a higher salary and more recognition.

You must be an RPR with membership dues paid in full to take the Skills Test. You must meet the following eligibility requirements to take the RMR Written Knowledge Test (WKT):

§ Be an RPR for three (3) consecutive years, OR

§ Be an RPR and an NCRA member for four (4) consecutive years, OR

§ Be an RPR and have been a practicing reporter for six (6) consecutive years, OR

§ Be an RPR and hold a bachelor's degree.

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Q. What is the RMR Exam?

A. The RMR Exam consists of a 100-question Written Knowledge Test (WKT) that focuses on four areas of knowledge--reporting (47%), transcript production (41%), administration (6%), and professional issues and continuing education (6%). You must score a minimum of 70% to pass the WKT.

To earn your RMR, you'll also have to pass three sections of a skills test that evaluates you in three areas--Literary at 200 wpm, Jury Charge at 240 wpm, and Testimony/Q&A at 260 wpm. After dictation, you have 75 minutes to transcribe your notes from each leg. You must have 95% accuracy on each leg to pass.

You do not have to pass all sections of the exam at one sitting. As long as you maintain your NCRA membership, you will retain credit for the sections passed. There is no time limit for earning the RMR.

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Q. What does the Registered Diplomat Reporter (RDR) certification signify?

A. The RDR is the highest level of certification available to court reporters. This certification program was developed to allow high-level, seasoned reporters to distinguish themselves as members of the profession's elite.

To qualify for the 100-question, multiple choice RDR Exam, you must be acurrent member of NCRA and meet ONE of the following requirements:

§ Have five consecutive years of experience as an RMR or,

§ Be an RMR and hold a four-year baccalaureate degree or,

§ Be an RMR with two or more NCRA specialty certifications --

CLVS, CRI, MCRI, CRRSM, CMRS, or CPE.

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Q. What is the RDR Exam?

A. The RDR Exam consists of a 100-question, multiple-choice Written Knowledge Test (WKT) that focuses on six areas--reporting (35%), transcript production (27%), management (11%), education (10%), marketing (8%), and professional issues (9%). You must score 70% or better to pass the exam.

The exam is designed to test your knowledge and experience. There is a study guide available; however, NCRA recommends you also be familiar with new reporting technology, NCRA policies and guidelines, and articles published in the Journal of Court Reporting to prepare for the exam.

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Q. What is the Certified Reporting Instructor program?

A. The CRI certification program was designed to recognize that excellence in teaching is a composite of many traits, skills, and knowledge. The program addresses the needs of those instructors who have professional certification and professional experience in the court reporting field and the needs of those instructors who have extensive formal education in pedagogy.

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Q. What is a Master Certified Reporting Instructor (MCRI)?

A. A Master Certified Reporting Instructor (MCRI) is someone who has received the highest honor the court reporting education profession has to bestow. MCRI certification is a badge of merit, declaring that an instructor is highly accomplished, having met rigorous professional teaching standards by completing a multi-phase, performance-based assessment process.

Instructors are recognized for their knowledge of court reporting, understanding of learning processes, demonstrated classroom expertise, and contributions to the profession. Master Certified Reporting Instructors serve as role models and spokespeople for court reporting education.

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Q. What is the significance of the Certified Legal Video Specialist (CLVS) certification?

A. The CLVS certifies that you are adept in the use of video in the legal environment , familiar with courtroom video and video deposition techniques as a legal video experts.

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Q. What is the Certified Manager of Reporting Services (CMRS) Program?

A. The Certified Manager of Reporting Services (CMRS) Program instructs you in the operations of a court reporting business and the supervision of reporters. It teaches you to meet budgets and prepare marketing plans, and it prepares you to cope with the ever changing environment of Court Reporting.

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Q. What are the advantages of becoming a Certified Realtime Reporter (CRR)?

A. Certified Realtime Reporters developed because of the advantages of the growing number of opportunities becoming available to realtime reporters. As one of the top national programs that certifies your ability in realtime , attaining the CRRSM designation commands instant respect and the immediate attention of potential employers, proving that you're on the cutting edge.

You must be a member in good standing of NCRA and a current RPR to register for the CRR.

The CRR Exam consists of three steps:

  1. Setting up and operating your equipment.
  2. Accurately writing realtime for five minutes from professionally recorded straight matter ranging in speed from 180-200 words per minute.
  3. Converting your file to an ASCII text file. You are only graded on your final submitted text file.

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Q. What are some of the technologies that are having a direct effect on the court reporting marketplace today?

A. In recent years, technology has begun to have a major effect on court reporting. To stay up-to-date, a court reporter must be familiar with Interactive Realtime Reporting , Videoconferencing , Internet Communications and Encrypted E-mail Services.

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Q. What is Interactive Realtime Reporting?

Realtime Reporting is the instantaneous display of testimony on computer screens. Court reporters report and translate deposition testimony, simultaneously transmitting what's said to laptop computers, computer monitors or large projections screens situated throughout the deposition suite. Realtime transcripts can also be printed at the same time that the deposition is taking place.

Taking this advanced technology one step further, Interactive Realtime Reporting connects the attorneys to the reporter's computer, allowing them to receive realtime testimony on their own notebook computer and the ability to utilize interactive realtime software functions.

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Q. What advantages are available to court reporters on the Internet?

A. In order to stay competitive, court reporters, like nearly every other service provider today, must become familiar with the Internet. The Internet offers a number of advantages to court reporters:

Research . There is no more cost-efficient, expansive or rapid research tool than the Internet. Research is an integral part of court reporting, especially when dealing with expert witnesses and obscure words or facts. With the Internet there is direct access to thousands of dictionaries, encyclopedias and experts worldwide, plus the ability to communicate with your colleagues, any time, any day.

Communications . It is estimated that within the next few years, 98 percent of U.S. businesses and 82 percent of the adult (over 18) population will have one or more e-mail addresses. Everything from scheduling a deposition, confirmation, the deposition itself, remote participation by attorneys using realtime, transcript preparation and its accompanying research, delivery, billing, payment and collections will involve the Internet.

Advertising . Some websites, such as Legal Language Services, provide a highly visible, cost-effective, convenient platform from which reporting firms, large and small, can establish their professional presence on the Internet and advertise their services to the world.

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Q. What is Discovery ZX?

A. Discovery ZX a full-text search and retrieval annotation and report-generation software, enabling the client to search for key words and phrases across select transcripts or an entire database of up to 999 individual transcripts. The compilation of a database of expert and trial testimony is an invaluable tool that can be utilized by litigators.

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Q. What is LiveNote?

A. LiveNote transforms the inefficient and costly task of analyzing testimony into a proficient and economical resource. LiveNote incorporates a simple to use Windows (3.x, 95, 98, NT) interface, high performance features and a program that will accept all standard ASCII files including those received during a realtime reported proceeding and integration of video testimony linked and searchable to the testimony.

LiveNote is specifically designed to enable attorneys to view, mark, annotate, search text and generate reports while on-line to the reporter as well as off-line anytime, anyplace.

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Q. What is CaseViewNet®?

A. CaseViewNet®, the latest version of CaseViewNet®, is a realtime transcript viewer software that offers the most advanced realtime interaction technology available. The CaseViewNet® client viewer provides interactive realtime access to testimony through a court reporter’s private network, either wirelessly or wired and through traditional serial cables. Court reporters using Case CATalyst with a CaseViewNet® certificate can distribute realtime to CaseViewNet® client viewers wirelessly via a wireless network or with a wired Ethernet connection. Client computers will receive the entire transcript, even if they arrive late. RapidRefresh™ instantly updates all edits, including globals, on the clients’ computers. The CaseViewNe®t client viewer also accepts a traditional serial feed from any court reporter capable of sending realtime to viewers such as CaseView® II, LiveNote®, Summation® and others, and will work as a standard platform in any realtime environment. It uses the same serial cables, splitters and adapters traditionally used for realtime court reporting. A serial connection does not provide the RapidRefresh™ or receiving the entire file features but it does provide the great basic features in CaseViewNet®.

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Q. What is the function of a scopist?

A. A scopist receives a rough transcription of a proceeding, usually along with audiotapes and underlying documents, such as exhibits which were discussed during the proceeding. A scopist uses these resources, as well as their inherent understanding and experience, to produce a clean transcript for the reporter.

A scopist may help maintain a reporter's dictionary by making "global" entries in the software . A reporter may make a typo, or write something several different ways, or may take new terminology, and none of this will exist in their dictionary. As a scopist edits a transcript, they either replace bad strokes with the correct record, or they "define" these strokes on the computer by making a "global," or global search and replace. This tells the computer to add this stroke or combination of strokes to the dictionary, as well as maintaining the clarity throughout the transcript. This drastically speeds up the reporter's work and the scopist's work. A good scopist should be fairly fluent with machine shorthand in order to accomplish their task.

Note that while a scopist should produce the cleanest possible transcript, they are not responsible for the final product. For example, if there are names that cannot be looked up, the scopist marks it in the transcript and the reporter must make a final determination.

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Q. Why do court reporters use scopists?

A. First of all, working with a scopist allows the reporter to take more work and have a faster turnaround time. More importantly, by building a relationship with a scopist, a reporter can enjoy some other advantages.

By working together, a scopist and reporter can quickly and continually build on a dictionary for CAT/realtime . Also, with a scopist, there are two sets of eyes searching for spelling errors, typos and other mistakes.

Also, by using a scopist, a reporter can avoid repetitive use injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome.

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Q. What steps must be taken when swearing in the witness and the Interpreter?

A. You must first swear in the interpreter , and then swear in the witness through the interpreter.

At the beginning of the transcript, you'll need to indicate the witness's name as usual, but also the fact that the succeeding pages were translated through an interpreter "duly sworn to translate English to _____ and ______ to English," or words to that effect.

Just make sure the record adequately reflects the fact that 1) an interpreter was used, 2) the interpreter was placed under oath, and 3) the witness was placed under oath. Your Appearance Page should also reflect the interpreter's name in an "Also Present" section.

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Q. How is the interpreted word transcribed?

A. Your transcript will look "normal," that is, with Q's and A's and colloquy between speakers, etc. The only exception to this is if the interpreter speaks "for himself." When the interpreter is making a statement for himself, "The Interpreter" is used as an indication, rather than Q or

Q. How should the transcript look if the interpreter does not use the first person?

A. A trained interpreter , such as those employed by Legal Language Services , will know to use the first person when interpreting a witness's testimony; that is, s/he is interpreting and repeating back the words exactly as they are conveyed to him/her. When receiving an answer, s/he should answer in the first person as if he were the witness speaking the words. If the interpreter doesn't do this and uses the third person instead, you need to transcribe that as words from the interpreter.

To make matters worse, sometimes the witness will have enough English to understand some of what is said and jump in with the English answer without waiting for the interpreter. You will need to be ready to write what the witness says, whether it's spoken through the interpreter or with his own mouth. The transcript will be the same.

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