I’m pretty sure all this speaks for itself, but I’ll point out that court reporters across the country are doing their part to educate attorneys on the actual status of the field. It’s not just New York, California, Illinois, and Texas. Every state has their leaders and activists, and as more of us stand up and say “this is wrong,” it will become an untenable situation for the organizations that lied to the public about the overall availability of stenographers, such as Veritext, US Legal, and Planet Depos, all of which were represented on the Speech-to-Text Institute board, the vehicle they used to lie to the public and make localized shortages out to be impossible-to-solve national ones. They used a simple trick. Knowing attorneys want stenographers, they told them we were unavailable to get them using digital court reporters.
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This is a timeline of events I wrote out for another project. It presents a snapshot of what I have documented over the years and links many blog posts to form what I feel is the bulk of the story.
Perhaps it will help supporters to have a single document like this. Perhaps it’ll help those who get lost trying to navigate the site and understand the issues. Perhaps it’ll sit on the internet collecting internet dust. Whatever the case, just know that I appreciate every single one of you for spreading the word and sending me information. It has made all of this possible.
Summary of Fraud:
The basic idea is that these multimillion dollar corps (Veritext, US Legal, etc) got together under the nonprofit Speech-to-Text Institute to claim the stenographer shortage was impossible to solve and artificially increase digital demand, which they all then benefit from. Stenograph was also a part of STTI, as its president, Anir Dutta, was vice president of the STTI. While making these claims through STTI, many of the companies were representing to attorneys and the public that they couldn’t find stenographers. Meanwhile, they weren’t using basic methods to find stenographers, like Sourcebook / PRO Link, a national directory of stenographers. Jim Cudahy is instrumental in getting the shortage forecasted via NCRA, then he turns around and weaponizes it against us years later before I declare him a fraud and he runs off to another association about a year before the STTI gets sued and takes down its site.
Timeline of Documentation:
2013 – The Court Reporting Industry Outlook 2013-2014 is created by Ducker Worldwide for the National Court Reporters Association. Jim Cudahy is Executive Director of NCRA at this point and instrumental in getting the shortage forecasted. Notably, California’s shortage is forecasted to be 5x to 20x worse than any other state.
2014-2018 – Initiatives such as NCRA A to Z, Project Steno, and Open Steno boost stenographic recruitment and public awareness of steno. Jim Cudahy is replaced as Executive Director during this time period and goes on to do whatever he does (7 MARCOM, I think). All of the companies in question were incredibly quiet, considering there was allegedly an impending shortage of doom.
2018 – At this point, the field didn’t even believe the larger companies were using digital court reporting. I know this because it surprised people when I published about it. Around this time, companies also began advertising huge bonuses with jobs to get court reporters to cover in California, lending some credibility to shortage concerns.
2019 – Veritext begins propagandizing lawyers to get them to change their deposition notices and allow for digital court reporting. US Legal Support buys and later kills StenoTrain, which was run by Patricia Falls (court reporting educator that is now all about digital.) At this point in history, companies were trying to get digital court reporters seen as just court reporters. We began differentiating ourselves as stenographers. Remote reporting comes up as a potential fix for shortage woes.
Veritext VP Gina Hardin writes a piece about digital reporting changing the landscape of reporting. After big social media buzz, she’s allegedly fired. Veritext makes it out like she did this of her own choice rather than following the direction of the company. Veritext makes the public statement that stenography is the life-blood of our industry and that of Veritext.
2021 – Veritext makes a statement to Stenonymous that technology will not take the place of the reporter. I begin to realize the Ducker Report was flawed. I get my hands on an email from US Legal Rep Peter Giammanco where he puts IN WRITING “does it really matter if done legally and ethically…[if both products are the same.]” I document some of the materials that companies are using to promote digital and note the scarcity of pro-stenographer material. I note that BLS statistics appear inaccurate and don’t match up with NCRA’s statistics. STTI, U.S. Legal, and Veritext all use a flimsy game of numbers to continue to push the propaganda the shortage is impossible to solve.
At this point the switch is flipped and I start poking holes in STTI materials.
A website using stenography images to lure people into digital court reporting is found. When I alert ESYOH to the fraud, they take parts of it down.
BlueLedge Digital Court Reporter training is linked to Veritext – the full extent of the relationship is unknown. And Stenograph is definitely in on making money off of digital court reporting and part of STTI. Interestingly, a Veritext company appeared to share an office with BlueLedge. Stenograph’s stenographer support also took a massive dip during this time period. Even NCRA notes there may be illegal conduct coming from digital land.
It’s also noted that Veritext ran a training for NYPTI prosecutors (prosecutors often go into civil lit, Veritext’s domain). They made it seem like stenography was old and outdated despite modern computerization. Basically eliminating us in attorneys’ minds through education.
At this point in history, I declared Jim Cudahy a fraud for his part in advancing STTI’s agenda.
2023 – Veritext subsidiary is discovered to have purged popular stenographer anecdote. Indiana proposes a ban on stenography in its courts. A lawsuit emerges claiming USL stole commissionable income from one of its executives, in my view strengthening the case that they’d commit illegal acts. Veritext goes after a court reporter for something they wrote on Facebook after ignoring my claims for over a year (well beyond the statute of limitations for defamation at this point.)
A lawsuit is filed against the Speech-to-Text Institute for anticompetitive behavior and the STTI takes its site off the web.
Anir Dutta calls me intellectually challenged, and when this is discovered, he apologizes. The situation causes an uproar in its customer base that results in a Town Hall Meeting with customers where Mr. Dutta stated he was no longer affiliated with the STTI organization.
That’s the story so far. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions. But I beg you to look at the inertia of the companies for half a decade prior to the shortage compared to their aggressive expansion of digital thereafter, as well as the flip flopping by Veritext that points to a very real intent to deceive.
2. Correction to the original article which accidentally said Jim Cudahy changed associations months before STTI took down its site. In fact it was more like a year. This confusion was a 2022/2023 typo in my notes.
As of August 2023:
I scraped the old STTI leadership off the Wayback Machine so that people can see what I’m saying when I talk about the STTI Bloc or the companies behind the organization.
I recently took a look at Pasqual “Trey” Perez III v Speech-to-Text Institute, et al, lawsuit. I would like to share some notes I wrote as I went through the documents. So far, there have been no formal “Answers” in the case, mostly pre-answer motions to dismiss by defendants and, from the Speech-to-Text Institute, a “response to civil action.” I’m providing documents for download here and my typed notes below:
Amended Complaint – Didn’t really see huge changes, but admittedly only glanced through it.
Southwest Reporting Motion to Dismiss – Basically attacks facial sufficiency of the complaint under the Twombly and Iqbal standards for federal pleadings. They’re saying that the complaint does not allege facts that show a that Southwest conspired with anyone else. Paragraph 8 says the only new facts alleged in the amended complaint were in paragraph 16 of that amended complaint. Paragraph 8 goes on to talk a little about COVID and how that drove down demand for videographers.
Motion for Summary Judgment by Alderson Reporting Company – Alderson basically says “we didn’t make the decision to stop using Trey based on his new product.” They also point to COVID as a reason things changed. Alderson explicitly denies it ever discussed its decision to choose a new vendor with any other third party.
An order granting Dennis Holmgren’s motion to appear pro hac vice is included. Dennis Holmgren was the lawyer that helped bring the writ against the government for failing to enforce the law against StoryCloud.
Lexitas (Deposition Solutions, LLC) motion to dismiss – This makes the claim that Trey attempted to market his speech-to-text product to lawyers during depositions where he was hired to provide video recording services. Lexitas makes the claim that plaintiffs were not entitled to provide rough transcription services because they are not CSRs. It also alleges that the facts in the complaint do not support that Lexitas engaged in any kind of collusion. Lexitas likens Trey’s actions to a house painter trying to conduct electrical work they’re not qualified for and dismissal by a general contractor.
Court Reporters Clearinghouse, Kennedy Reporting, Sherry Fisher, Lorrie Schnoor, Sonia Trevino, and Shelly Tucker motion to dismiss – These movants also challenge the facial sufficiency of the complaint. The motion to dismiss makes the claim that the reference to others blackballing Trey does not rise to the level of sustaining a claim against Defendant Tucker. It further goes on to state that movants are within their right to stop doing business with plaintiffs because plaintiffs were violating court reporting laws. Similar to the Lexitas motion, it makes the point that the government sets the bar for entry and that plaintiffs did not meet that bar, therefore there can be no conspiracy to keep them out of the market. It also makes the claim that the non-certified transcript market talked about in the complaint does not exist. This motion also raises the claim that movants are not competitors and therefore cannot be sued under the antitrust laws.
Response to civil action by the Speech-to-Text Institute – Interestingly, the Speech-to-Text Institute doesn’t seem to file a formal motion to dismiss, but it sends a “response to civil action” by someone named Greg Kohn, Executive Manager of the Speech-to-Text Institute, care of Virtual, Inc. The response features affirmative defenses, such as stating that Steve Townsend was never President of the National Court Reporters Association, among other things. What surprised me about this was that they referenced their website. That website likely went down between 5/19/23 when this document was filed with the court and 5/31/23 when the Stenograph Town Hall occurred.
To be honest, it doesn’t really surprise me that they’re hoping to get out of it based on the bare-bones allegations in the complaint. The complaint never makes reference to any of anticompetitive acts I was accusing the corporations behind the Speech-to-Text Institute of, such as pumping the market with false, outdated, or misleading information designed to expand demand for digital court reporting. Actually, reading this response gives me a bit of a theory. They’re hoping to be blanket released from the case with the other defendants and now with their site gone plaintiff will have a harder time proving their false claims because their website has been dusted. To my knowledge, the only way to peruse that website is to pull snippets off Stenonymous or use the Wayback Machine. If Trey manages to get past pleading stages here, I wonder if it’ll come up that they vaporized their website about 10 days after filing a document with the court referring to that very same website.
The Texas Court Reporters Association also filed a motion to dismiss, but I did not have time to review that prior to launching this post. I can only assume it points out the same issues, but if I get around to reading it and learn I am wrong, I’ll amend this post.
Overall: Reading through the defendants’ filings has made me rethink some of what I thought in my original post. It will be interesting to see how many defendants are able to succeed in extricating themselves from the lawsuit before filing an Answer.
The Speech-to-Text Institute’s response will also be hosted here.
I’ve been made aware of the lawsuit Pasqual Perez III v the Speech-to-Text Institute, the Texas Court Reporters Association, and a host of other court reporting services. Maybe I didn’t beat STTI, maybe it deleted its site to cover its anticompetitive behavior.
I did ask Pasqual, who I’ve always known as Trey, for comment before I posted this blog. I asked a few others too, but since there’s pending litigation, people understandably didn’t have any comment to make.
I think the most creative way to approach this is go bit by bit through the lawsuit and share my thoughts as someone who has a good general understanding of the field and has been talking about Speech-to-Text Institute’s anticompetitive behavior for a long time.
Beginning is real simple. It’s an antitrust action. Competitors cannot get together and perform group boycotts to force other competitors out of the market. That’s the basic idea going forward.
They mention this “fend off the attack by the barbarians,” line and attribute it to “the former president of the National Court Reporters Association.” I become confused by this later, because they attribute it to Steve Townsend. I thought he was involved in AAERT and STTI, not NCRA. Now, keep in mind, this is just a complaint. Just like the US Legal lawsuit, it’s just allegations. Let’s keep going.
Blah, blah, blah, boring legal stuff. That’s what this part is. It’s true.
The complaint starts listing the parties and talks a little bit about the field, how some lawyers contract directly with court reporters and some use litigation support firms. Pretty standard stuff.
This continues for a little while.
It names the Texas Court Reporters Association as a party, as you see above. Then it mentions the Speech-to-Text Institute.
Still nothing special. It’s just going through and talking about who the parties are.
This is where it gets kind of interesting and mentions Steve Townsend in the context of NCRA again. I would appreciate it if court reporters with a better memory than mine correct the record, but I really remember Townsend as AAERT and not NCRA. The complaint is basically saying that STTI was meant to keep competition like Trey’s out of the market in favor of the established methods. I actually think there’s some truth to that and sent an email to the plaintiff lawyer, which is included at the bottom for your viewing pleasure.
The complaint gets into a little more about the industry. Still nothing particularly juicy for my audience, who are mostly court reporters that know roughly how this stuff works.
Now, it launches into an allegation that innovative technology is not welcome in the court reporting industry, and I would actually argue that this is true, but with a simple explanation. The digital court reporting side of the equation is obsessed with firm profits. They’ll push digital regardless of who it hurts or how illegal or unethical the behavior might be. The stenographic side is skeptical of technology claims because they’ve been misleading for at least the last half decade. There are studies such as Testifying While Black and Racial Disparities in Automatic Speech Recognition, which point to the inferiority of other methods. Right off the bat, the stenographic defendants are in a much better spot, because they can simply say they weren’t convinced the tech was right for them based on the long history of tech sellers outright lying to people in our field. I’m not saying Trey is a liar. I actually think he’s one of the honest business owners out there. But I am saying that court reporting businesses are right to be wary, and my cursory understanding of law makes me think that might just be a problem for his lawsuit.
This part is mostly about uncertified roughs. I think that’s where plaintiff believed the money would be. It’s a fair allegation.
Then it’s laid out that before being blackballed, comments from a Lexitas production manager seemed to point at his product being accepted.
The allegation is made that Shelly Tucker told him he was being blackballed. Obviously, in the context of an antitrust suit, these would be important statements for the parties, and eventually, a fact finder, to examine. But again, court reporters could just point to the long history of tech claims being deceptive and say that Trey just got lumped in with them in their minds. As far as I know, businesses can all independently come to the conclusion that they don’t want to work with another business. If they can point to doubts they had about the product or things they didn’t like about Trey’s reputation, it might just be enough to explain why they came to that independent conclusion. And Trey does have a bit of a reputation. For example, he was being fairly abrasive in one of my Facebook groups, and I had to ban him. But then later we had a brief discussion, and I remember understanding some of where he was coming from. I guess my point is that this is a mixed bag, and if he got abrasive with business owners, they might just point to that behavior to escape this lawsuit.
This is more of the same. Was it antitrust blackballing? Was it a concerted effort to break competition? Or was it the “tech exhaustion” that court reporters have suffered from for decades? Remember, we’ve had tech sellers telling us our replacement is on the way for decades. At a certain point, you’d just start to paint all tech solutions with the same “prove it or lose it,” attitude conveyed here. It mentions how court reporters got angry over the Stenograph logo change. But to be fair, Stenograph had other problems.
It mentions that court reporters attempted to get regulatory action taken against Pasqual and StoryCloud. The complaint against Trey was dismissed. The writ filed against the JBCC for StoryCloud caused the company to shut down, so in the court of public opinion, we’re pretty sure they were breaking the law. Again, not Trey, StoryCloud.
I’m just going to put this out there, it’s absurd to think that trying to get the government to enforce the law equally is anticompetitive. I understand if this is being given for background, explaining that Trey’s company was not breaking the law, but otherwise, I don’t see the value.
This is where we point the finger at the Texas Court Reporters Association. It’s basically saying “hey look, they were discussing me right before this boycott.” But I think it’s the substance of those discussions that might make or break the case against TCRA. Court reporting associations across the country are very, very cautious when it comes to behavior that might violate the antitrust laws. Some might say overprotective. For example, trade associations can gather and distribute aggregated pricing data, but almost none of them do because they’re afraid of antitrust claims. Reconciling that fact with the idea that TCRA was engaging in conspiratorial or group boycott behavior is going to be one of the paramount goals of the plaintiff.
The complaint talks about the markets this affects. It’s actually really interesting because it breaks down what I would refer to as the court reporting and stenotype services market into certified transcript, uncertified transcript, video recording, and speech-to-text markets.
It keeps going on about the markets. I didn’t see anything particularly important at this part beyond fleshing out the complaint/allegations some more.
This is where the complaint really starts to drive home the damages. Basically boils down to “we were blackballed and boycotted in all these markets and then we lost substantial revenue.” If you follow my work, you know that I consulted with a lawyer as it pertains to the Speech-to-Text Institute’s anticompetitive behavior, and I was told that a successful action needed 1) Monopoly power, 2) Anticompetitive act, 3) Damage. If Trey can show damage, he might really be able to stick it to the Speech-to-Text Institute. Anyone reading this has probably figured out that I have some doubt that the case can be proven against stenographic court reporters. But I think it’s a slam dunk on STTI, the organization that failed to defend itself against fraud claims made by me for like a year and a half and that was, in fact, a group of competitors syndicated behind a shell nonprofit to pump the market with misinformation and manipulate it — the same organization that deleted its website about a month after this lawsuit we’re talking about was filed.
I don’t know about procompetitive, but I do know there are social and political reasons for stenographers to stand up against the speech-to-text stuff. Again, it’s all related to the bogus claims made by tech sellers of the past and the science that I mentioned. That’s not a reflection of Trey’s business, but it is an unfortunate market reality.
More legal jargon and the beginning of the prayer for relief. The complaint is starting to wrap up at this point.
This part mentions that to the extent any procompetitive business objectives exist, such objectives could’ve been achieved by something other than total boycott. I actually agree here. I think the players in the market can invest in a little more science to work out what the best methods are in what circumstances. But this responsibility falls to the bigger fish in the pond, as a lot of the smaller owners simply can’t afford to fund such an endeavor. Coincidentally, many of those bigger fish were backing the Speech-to-Text Institute’s bogus claims and its agenda of market manipulation.
The complaint continues to state the causes of action. For anybody that’s never drafted a complaint before, if your complaint doesn’t allege facts that would support a cause of action, your lawsuit can be dismissed. Federal pleading standards changed after Twombly, so lawyers need to write much better complaints than in years gone by.
Plaintiff demands a jury trial and asks for an injunction, damages, treble damages, attorneys’ fees, and interest.
There it was. His lawyer’s email. I couldn’t help myself. I felt compelled to write to Dov Preminger. So I did.
If more information comes in, I’ll put an addendum right below here or make a new post.
I attended the Stenograph Town Hall last night, and eventually, I’ll sit down and do a write up, or release a transcript, or some quirky mix of the two. Personally, I really appreciate that the company did what it did. Anir Dutta, Michelle McLaughlin, and Dan Denofsky were really brave. We can be a tough customer base to please. But at the point where a company is holding a public meeting to speak to its customer base, I think it’s safe to say they’re really trying. I applaud it. I may have good or bad comments when I’ve had some time to absorb, reflect, fact check, and get feedback from readers. I know the BlueLedge question really stood out. We’ll see. But they made it look good. If I was a neutral journalist with no background info, I’d eat it up. I know some have commented that their BS meters went off, and I felt some of that too, but I think some of that is inherent to business. It’s about making people feel good about buying from you, whether that’s competing price or relationship.
Anir Dutta said something that rocked my world. He said he was no longer Vice President of the Speech-to-Text Institute. This was surprising to me because I’m on that site frequently and he’s been listed as the vice president every time I’ve checked. So I went and checked. The site was down.
The Speech-to-Text Institute, the propaganda outfit I denounced as a fraud, is dusted from the internet. This blog still stands. It’s thanks to people like you that that happened. But since I’m roleplaying a malignant narcissist, I’m going to take the credit. I couldn’t buy the domain, so it may go back up in the future, but for now, pretty much anyone can point at their materials and say “they were accused of fraud and took their site down.” It’s true!
In all seriousness, we’ve just proven that it’s possible to dismantle fraudulent activity without law enforcement or judicial involvement. Wouldn’t that be an incredible thing for the news to cover? I guess we’ll just have to settle for more important news.
Feel free to celebrate this one with the Mechanics of War track by Xtortion Audio, from the album RAGE. They’re not sponsoring this post, but their music pumps me up enough to slay shell nonprofits used to manipulate markets. Hell March 2 does the same.
I’m pretty sure Stenograph just made court reporting history by distancing itself from the Speech-to-Text Institute and its bogus claim that the stenographer shortage was impossible to solve. Nice move.
I’m still really surprised that the geniuses running the the STTI Bloc companies didn’t just pay me to shut up or write for them. Maybe it just goes to show that as smart as they are, there are costly blind spots. I know it wasn’t the most orthodox job application, but I’m pretty sure I just proved to the world that the pen is mightier than the dollar.
Years later, as it turned out, some of the largest court reporting companies would get together using a nonprofit called the Speech-to-Text Institute (STTI). That nonprofit would go on to mislead consumers about the stenographer shortage to artificially increase demand for digital court reporting. Tellingly, while a U.S. Legal Support representative had no problem using the word “libel” on one of the female members of my profession, USL and the other multimillion dollar corporations never dared utter a word about my eventual fraud allegations. The companies wanted to trick consumers into believing stenographers were unavailable due to shortage and force digital court reporting on them, where matters are recorded and transcribed.
This set off alarm bells in the world of court reporting. Stenotype manufacturing giant, Stenograph, also represented in STTI’s leadership, shifted from supporting realtime stenographic reporters to shoddy service, and began to call its MAXScribe technology realtime. Realtime, as many attorneys know, is a highly trained subset of court reporting that often comes with a premium. These bait-and-switch tactics on the digital court reporter side of the industry caused a nonprofit called Protect Your Record Project to spring up and begin educating attorneys on what was happening in our field. But as of today, the nonprofit has not reached a level of funding that would allow it to advertise these issues on a national scale — this blog’s in the same boat.
So as more of the workforce is switched to digital reporters / recorders and transcribers, we’re seeing companies use influencers and other media to lure transcribers in for low pay. In short, digital court reporting is now synonymous with side hustle. These companies are going to take the field of skilled reporters that law firms and courts know and love, replace them with transcribers, and go on charging the same money. For the stenographer shortage, these folks were dead silent for the better part of a decade. Now that they need transcribers to replace us, they’re going all out to recruit.
“What do I care?” That’s what a lot of lawyers and paralegals might be asking at this point. Well, I may not write as well as Alex Su, but I’ll do my best here. First, there are egalitarian concerns. In the Testifying While Black study, stenographers only scored 80% accuracy on the African American Vernacular English dialect. This was widely reported in the media, but what was lost by the media was the reveal of pilot study 1, which showed everyday people only transcribe with an accuracy of about 40% (e226). When we’re talking about replacing court reporters with “side hustle technology,” we’re talking about a potential 50% drop in accuracy and a reduction in court record quality for minority speakers, something courts are largely unaware of. According to the Racial Disparities in Automatic Speech Recognition study, automation isn’t coming to save us either. Voice writing is the best bet for the futurists, and it’s being completely ignored by these big companies.
There are also security concerns. When we’re talking about utilizing transcribers, we’re talking about people that have an economic incentive to sell any private data they might gain from the audio or transcript. If transcription is outsourced, a bribe as low as $600 might be enough to get people acting unethically. Digital court reporting companies have already shown they’re not protective of people’s data — in fact, companies represented in the Speech-to-Text Institute. This also leads to questions about remedies for suspected omissions or tampering. Would you rather subpoena one local stenographer or teams of transcribers, some possibly outside of the jurisdiction?
Finally, there’s an efficiency issue with digital court reporting. Turnaround times can be much slower. Self-reported, it can take up to 6 hours to transcribe 1 hour of audio. By comparison, 1 hour of proceedings can take a qualified stenographer 1 to 2 hours to transcribe. That’s 3 to 6 times faster. Everyone here knows stenographers aren’t perfect and that backlogs happen. Now imagine a world where the backlog is 3 to 6 times what it is today. In one case, a transcript took about two months to deliver. If we’re going to hire teams of transcribers to do the work of one stenographic court reporter, aren’t we going backwards?
Consumers are the ones with the power here. They can demand stenographers, utilize companies that aren’t economically incentivized to lie to them, and spread awareness to other consumers. Consumers, lawyers and court administrators, decide the future. Knowing what you do now, do you want a court reporter or a side hustler at your next deposition or criminal case?
Written by Christopher Day, a stenographic court reporter in New York City that has been serving the legal community since 2010. He is also a former board member of the New York State Court Reporters Association and a former volunteer for the National Court Reporters Association STRONG Committee. Day also authors the Stenonymous blog, the industry’s leading independent publication on court reporting media, information, data, analyses, satire, and archiving of current events. He also appeared on VICE with regard to the Testifying While Black study and fiercely advocated for more linguistics training for court reporters in and around New York State.
Donations for the blog will help run advertising for this article and others like it, as well as pay for more journalists and investigators. If you would like to donate, you may use the donation box on the front page of Stenonymous.com, PayPal or Zelle ChristopherDay227@gmail.com, or Venmo @Stenonymous. Growing honest media to combat misconceptions in and about our marketplace is the premier path to a stronger profession and ultimately better service to the legal community.
After a successful campaign to trick lawyers and law firms into allowing digital court reporting via their deposition notices, the court reporting industry giant Veritext made a statement on Thursday that it would continue its aggressive expansion of digital court reporting. Part-time spokesperson Richard Stubbins said:
“Since nobody opposed us using the Speech-to-Text Institute (STTI) to join with our fellow competitors, spread the lie that the stenographer shortage was impossible to solve, and generally manipulate the market, we’re in good shape. Consumers are too complacent to explore antitrust options against our successful bait and switch of digital court reporting in the place of stenography, and the government agencies that are meant to protect consumers are too underfunded and terrified of our lawyers to do much of anything, so we will now move to the next phase of the operation.”
Asked to expound, the industry behemoth stated that it would continue to work its way into lawyer education and legal spaces in order to continue to frame stenographers as old and outdated, despite the fact that stenography is referred to as the gold standard of court reporting and more efficient than digital court reporting.
“It’s a genius plan, really. Lawyers don’t want to think about what we do and they let us handle everything. We take advantage of that by charging them gold standard prices for substandard service and charging them as much as possible even though they could probably hire any stenographer off NCRA PRO Link for less. We wanted legal professionals to use digital, and they wouldn’t, so we simply pushed the narrative that the stenographers they prefer are unavailable. Bottom line is the only people standing against us are a nonprofit designed to call out misconduct, an idiot with a blog, and a field of women. With those odds, I’d put money on the dishonest corporate machine any day. It’s not like news media are going to report on corporate fraud, they’re reliant on corporate advertisers.”
Critics of the expansion of digital court reporting point to the difficulty of being able to subpoena foreign transcribers in the event of suspected error or tampering. They also believe that the lower paid workers will have an incentive to sell or distribute sensitive or private information that standard court reporters simply do not have.
Stenographic and voice writing proponents point to the importance of having a court reporter that can be called to testify as to the truth and accuracy of stenographic or audio notes. In today’s AI-heavy world, voice cloning and manipulation leaves mere digital recording at severe risk of tampering to produce favorable court outcomes.
“Even though our clients are some of the smartest people on the planet, they haven’t worked out a way to stop us from giving away sweetheart deals to BigLaw and its insurance counterpart while overcharging smaller shops on the copies they’re more or less forced to buy from us. Since there are zero consequences, we don’t intend to stop any time soon. Worst case scenario, we’ll just tell them all the stenographers are making a big deal out of self-interest. Nobody’ll think about our own self-interest as a multimillion dollar company. It’ll be great.”
*This is satire and should not be taken as a factual article. It’s part of Stenonymous Satire Weekends, a project to bring more eyes to corporate fraud in court reporting.As you can imagine, it’s the centralized power of capital versus the decentralized power of 18,000 to 30,000 stenographers. The situation is just a tad asymmetrical and we have to push back in ways that don’t involve spending thousands of dollars, at least until court reporters get so fed up that they “GoFundMe” enough to hire people that’ll hammer on corporate fraudsters full time.
To sum it up, a group of court reporting competitors and companies syndicated behind the Speech-to-Text Institute to pump the market with misinformation that the stenographer shortage was impossible to solve and make the case that therefore digital reporting is necessary. Digital proponents talk about the equivalency of steno versus digital, but then they do things like call the workforce not highly trained, presumably to create the illusion that this shift will be cheaper for the consumer. Don’t believe me? Check out this old Verbit infographic.
Steno Imperium has a post up about corporate responsibility and the various things that Planet Depos, US Legal Support, Verbit, Veritext and Stenograph have done. In some instances it alleged violations of law and dives heavily into the conduct of Kathy DiLorenzo.
It’s a long read, but provokes a lot of thought. I don’t want to take up your time or detract from the piece by regurgitating everything here, so go check it out!
If you look at those links above you’ll see that I’ve been on this since day 1. Court reporters can trust me to fight for them.
On that note, I think the best way to do this is to present each piece and then present my take on it. I’ll try not to nitpick too much and just bring out primary points.
I’ll be really fair here. He’s got a mission and he’s sticking to it, and that’s fair game. But I would say the idea that adding digital to the pool will not decrease the number of stenographer jobs is a lie. There is a total market. More of that market being covered by digital necessitates fewer available stenographic jobs. The idea that digital reporting is the preferred modality is also heavily in dispute. We literally call stenography the gold standard and even ChatGPT knows it.
For the STTI materials, it’s 100% certain to exacerbate because the STTI Bloc has used all of its money and influence to grow digital over steno while lying to court reporters and the public. The number of stenographers shrinking in Illinois is pulled straight from Ducker’s “70% will retire before 2033” statement. There is basically zero chance that the report, which is a decade old, reliably predicted the future with 100% accuracy. Fewer than 1 in 10 become court reporters. I’ll concede that we say this a lot, but has anybody run the actual numbers with any consistency, or is it kind of like Ducker where we got some information once and then trusted that forever and ever? I have the same issue with stating the number of stenography students. It completely discounts the self-taught — and I personally know self-taught court reporters. It’s all fluff to suit an agenda. I no longer feel bad about calling it what it is. Nobody from that side of the equation has ever defended their inexcusable antisocial behavior. They simply pretend I don’t exist, because my existence is inconvenient to their agenda.
Stenograph claims to have 80% market share, and then claims that at least 20,000 use their software. That would put the number of stenographers at at least 25,000. That means Stenograph knows for a fact that STTI was wrong, since there were only supposed to be 23,000 of us as of 2023. Again, the idea that this will add additional jobs is laughable, it will only move market share to digital, which Stenograph has positioned itself to profit from. They also lie about New York, where voice writing is not accepted for civil service positions. Neither is digital. Anir writes well, and I admire his ability to stick to a story. Perhaps seeing this in print will lead people to realize why I was so down on Stenograph as an entity, but not its employees or trainers. As a company, they’re not doing right by us. Everybody else is just caught in the crossfire of that. But the company relies on you being the bigger person and letting it go. “It’s just business,” they say, as they twist the knife just a few more times.
The math from my last ad report was very clear. Using my current media knowledge, we could probably reach/engage over a million people for about $30,000. I can’t lay that out by myself right now, but it should put into perspective why I keep asking for money. It makes a difference.
But as always, I leave it in the hands of my colleagues. Do we continue to wait and see what happens, or do we get serious about funding the only industry blog dedicated to purging corruption from the field? Regardless of the choice, reporters can count on me to continue being truthful.
And to give some good entertainment in the process.
As I went into in another post, pictures get several times more engagement than text pieces. But it’s difficult to cram what’s going on into small bites.
I’m going to try a hybrid approach and run the newspaper image below as an advertisement. Hopefully it will shock consumers into action. If you’d like to contribute to the ad campaign, feel free to use the front page of Stenonymous.com to donate.
Feel free to spread these images if you think there’s somewhere they belong. I’m only one person. I can only post so much. There are like 30,000 of you.