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Officials' Update 2/13/04


February 13, 2004
Richard Matt, CCRA Vice President

I was invited to attend, and did attend the Electronic Appeals Committee Meeting at the Denver West office of the State Court Administrator on February 10, 2004.  The reason I was invited to attend this meeting is because they had a vendor demonstration from Rebecca Askew at Real Legal.  She explained how Real Legal could help store notes and transcripts and limit access, etc. using their software.

Mary Bohlender, Administrator in Weld County, chairs this committee.  Bob Roper from IIS was also in attendance, along with Justice Hobbs and Chief Judge Davidson from the Court of Appeals.  There were clerks and administrative staff from around the state also at this meeting.  Although no decision as of yet has been made about how to incorporate reporter transcripts into electronic appeal files, I walked away with some very strong impressions that I'd like to pass on to Official Reporters in Colorado. 

1.                            The Judicial Department in Colorado is strongly embracing technology to improve service.  We as Court Reporters MUST do the same.

2.                            Official Court Reporters in Colorado are in direct competition with digital recording devices and we must out-perform them not only by providing realtime services to the courts, but also in timely preparation and delivery of transcripts.  I was taken aback at the extremely high frustration level exhibited by people from the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court regarding multiple extension requests to complete transcripts or reporters simply refusing to do their transcripts.  They hear the words Court Reporter and think, "Now there's a problem," instead of thinking about the vast majority of reporters who do a fine job.

I know that reporters with backlogs at the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals will say they're short-staffed and overworked, but I would encourage them to seek assistance with the preparation of transcripts.  CCRA's web site has a link to scopists that can assist in transcript preparation.  Reporters need to hire proofreaders.  In short, we have to do whatever it takes to get our work out.  Districts around the state sure won't have a problem hiring more transcriptionists if their digital recordings get a backlog.

In short, this is a competition that could present a scenario where ninety-five percent of reporters win over digital, but five percent lose, and we all end up losing.

I understand that if you're reading this, I'm probably preaching to the choir, but please take a look around your district, have a reporters' meeting if need be, get reporters in your district to join CCRA, get this important message across, and let's try to have judges and justices that think of reporters as professionals, not a problem.

On the brighter side of things, Bob Roper has made contact with NCRA to explore once again the prospect of getting reporters hooked into ICON and possibly the reporter being able to have a "hot stroke" which would then "populate fields in ICON" (fill in the blanks) with information directly from the judge.  He'd like support from CCRA in this endeavor, and I told him he'd have our total support.  We'll obviously have to work the bugs out, but if IIS is interested in using realtime technology to improve services, we HAVE to support them.


Richard J. Matt, RPR

(aspiring to become a CRR)