Come join us in Omaha! That's what you read when you received your issue of TCR, and I hope by now you've made your reservations or are ready to do so. Our convention committee has chosen a beautiful venue, the Embassy Suites in the Downtown/Old Market district, and has lined up an impressive list of speakers and topics to reveal to us how to look at things we've already learned in a new light, to hone our realtime skills, and to teach us how to be better reporters. Of course networking with other federal reporters is a big part of every convention, as we share how our courts handle similar issues differently and share how to become an indispensible part of the court family. I look forward to meeting with you and hearing about your successes while we're in Nebraska in April.
Last issue I told you about the working committees of USCRA and what each of their assignments were this year. Every committee is hard at work on fulfilling the requests made of them and I hope to have some of those accomplishments listed in the next issue of The Circuit Rider. While that work is ongoing, I have a few requests to make of you, our general member.
We have 13 Circuit Representatives who represent you on the USCRA Board. That's one person for each of the eleven circuits, with the 9th Circuit having two representatives as it is split into north and south geographically, and the District of Columbia also having one representative. We also have two representatives who give a voice to our associate members. You can go to our website, at www.uscra.org/circuitreps, to see which states are in what circuit or use a search engine such as Google to find that information. All of our Circuit Reps, their contact information and the circuits they represent are listed in every TCR issue also.
Some circuits have as few as three states that they serve; others serve as many as seven. No matter how you look at it, though, there are large numbers of members for which any one Circuit Representative must gather facts, educate him or herself, serve on committees, participate in discussion and disseminate information, all the while maintaining high professional standards in carrying out their reporting duties in the federal courts. These dedicated volunteers can use your help.
Because of busy court schedules and the number of different courthouses in each circuit, it is impossible to know what is occurring in each of those locations; at times it is difficult even to keep up with what is happening in your own district at a satellite courthouse. Information is a powerful tool in our fight to promote court reporters and our chosen profession, and we need every one of you to make sure that USCRA has the information it needs to do the best job possible for you, its members.
When one of your colleagues decides to retire, please let us know so we can send a letter of recognition to them. When a new reporter is hired in your district, please invite them to join USCRA and let us know so we can congratulate them and check with them to see if they have any questions. When a judicial officer takes senior status and/or retires, let us know so we can again send a letter of congratulations.
When you learn of nominations and appointments of Article III judges, it is very important that you pass this information along and include any contact information. You may remember that last year USCRA funded a video on the benefits of realtime to the federal court system. We now include a copy of that video with every letter we send to both nominated and appointed Article III judges in an effort to educate them on the reasons they should choose a court reporter over a recording system – but we need your help to get this material on their desks before they make their decision.
Finally, when an issue arises, contact us first, before you go to Human Resources, the Administrative Office, or begin a letter-writing campaign. We have a wealth of knowledge and experience and will gladly volunteer our time and energies to help you formulate a plan of action with the least amount of damage to the rest of the reporters in the system. In fact, many times an issue has already been addressed elsewhere and we can provide you with its history and the pros and cons already encountered. Also, it is not unusual for one small issue to take on magnified proportions when the whole country decides to weigh in on it. Of course the final decision on how to proceed will remain yours alone, but keeping an open mind while listening to differing viewpoints leads to much better decision-making.
Before I close this already long message, I ask that you please seriously consider contributing ideas and/or articles to The Circuit Rider. Next issue Judy Nolton, our editor, is planning to highlight stories of reporter families -- maybe you have a son or daughter or spouse who is also a court reporter and would be willing to be interviewed -- and court families -- are you and your office and/or courthouse colleagues a close-knit group who would be willing to give us an inside look? We are always looking for good ideas and material – and think how great "Author" would look on your LinkedIn profile!
See you in Omaha!!!!
Shirley Hall, USCRA President