The Associated Press reported on Thursday that the companies that control the court reporting industry have been bought out by KKR and Blackstone, each now representing half of the country’s current court reporting workforce. The FTC’s Lina Khan stated in a recent press conference on the issue that court reporters were “pretty much on their own” because helping such a small industry is a “colossal waste of time and resources.”
All of this happened simultaneously with a change in state law that would allow court reporters in California to work in Texas. Opponents of the bill said that the lack of mutual reciprocity was concerning.
Local court reporter Jim Jones said “wow, my association could’ve done something about this, but all the board members were making money by selling off their businesses to the perpetrators. Who could have seen this coming?”
After the news broke, enigmatic blogger Al Anonymous posted to popular court reporting blog Steno Imperium that the wholesale purchasing of court reporting firms and ousting of professional court reporters from courtrooms was done to sway the record in big money’s favor. “Think about it,” Al wrote. “When you have transcribers that are paid pennies, desperate to keep their jobs, they’ll change anything for a buck or if they’re ordered to by their boss. Those pressures exist even in traditional court reporting circles. What hope do we have if you trade that responsibility away to a culture without ethical boundaries?”
Shortly after, a Staten Island home was raided by police and the Steno Imperium blog went offline. There are no further updates at this time.
Court Reporting Company of the Year, Veritext, through its representative Jane Doe, stated, “We are pleased with this outcome. Now nobody will have to bribe judges to win appeals. They can just bribe us. All profits matter.”
*None of this is true. It’s part of Stenonymous Satire Weekends. I used to use these to expose corporate fraud in court reporting, but this time I’m doing it as more of a cautionary revisiting of the leadership vulnerability issues that I raised in the Cost of Corruption article.
The private equity model has dug its claws into everything from court reporters to emergency medicine physician staffing. If KKR and Blackstone are giving DOCTORS a run for their money, you can bet we’re all going to feel it sooner or later. But use this as a creative thinking exercise. If you continue to allow the corporate consolidation of court reporting and the alleged massive shifting of the workforce to people they’re going to pay less and treat worse, how easy is it going to be for the wealthy to influence transcripts? At least with stenographic notes, you can’t easily alter the stenographic strokes, so any lawyer could hire another reporter to read the notes and see if stuff was left out or filled in from a source other than the stenographic notes. With audio, as we know, court audio goes missing and court administrators in other states hide it by omission. Audio’s also far easier to edit than stenographic strokes.
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.
If anyone would like to help advertise this post to attorneys, please donate whatever amount you feel comfortable donating at the front page of Stenonymous.com. Be advised that I do not receive your credit card info when you do. You can also PayPal ChristopherDay227@gmail.com, Zelle ChristopherDay227@gmail.com, or Venmo @stenonymous.
Steno Imperium is at it again. Its most recent post claims a former Veritext employee mentioned there is/was a policy to have 50% digital throughout all offices. $1,000 is being offered for any document proving this.
I’ll be looking for developments on this. If it can be confirmed, then the next question is whether these offices have anywhere close to 50% today.
The post also claims that Andy Fredericks, COO of Veritext, stated that digital was 10% of California market share in 2021. It’s hard for me to believe they were able to expand that to 50% over two years.
It must be pointed out that the expansion of digital jobs is ultimately a loss of stenographer jobs that will drive down demand for our students and probably force more school closures. Forced diversification of the workforce allows them to bump stenographers whenever they want and keep digitals and stenographers hungry. Hungry digitals and stenographers compete with each other and come down on their price. Winner? Big box every time. Realtimers should really start paying attention. The digital side has already started saying they have realtime. They’re going to start swapping you all out too.
I believe we should keep letting digitals know the value of the work they’re being given. Imagine, for example, someone being paid $15 an hour learns the value of the work they’ve been given was $75 an hour. What happens? The smart ones start asking for more. What if we could mathematically show digitals the total value of stenographer pages converted into hourly form? That’s what the conversion calculations at the bottom of this post were all about. What do we have to lose? Apparently some of the big boxes are already set on replacing the jobs despite the science, equality, and quality issues I’ve written about in the past. Might as well give them a little run for their money.
Have to hand it to Steno Imperium for gathering this info, putting it out there, and trying to gather more solid proof. Thanks!
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.
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.
After the release of my blog about Veritext’s British Columbia advertorial, a reader sent me more information on the province. Their verbal oath confirmation from 1980 was lost and they were asked to sign a new document for them to stay on the official or authorized reporter list.
This reader believes that the language “or reporter realtime technologies” is intentionally vague so as to allow digital reporters in British Columbia. Years ago, I would’ve said “no way.” But given Stenograph’s push to call digital court reporting technologies realtime, it seems much more likely than not.
I’m also informed by this reader that there is a rumor Veritext is charging a separate fee for witness swearing. The reader stated swear-ins need to be done by official court reporters, therefore, lawyers will be economically incentivized to not have swear-ins, potentially allowing digital in the door. The reader’s prediction was such a fee would rise over time to push things further in that direction and allow companies like Veritext to cut stenographers out entirely. I don’t know that they’d cut us entirely, but I do know that increasing the pool of court reporters will cause rates to fall. That goes back to my whole supply & demand argument.
It’s kind of sad that the corporations spent two decades telling everybody realtime is the future just to pull the rug out from under the actual realtime reporters and just say whatever technology they’re peddling is realtime. Now that that trust is broken, Stenograph and any company like it will probably never have it again. When we figure out a way to ween ourselves off of their dominant position in the hardware and software market, it’s an entire stream of revenue that’ll be lost to them, and deservedly so.
This can be a lesson to us in the United States about how language can be used to lie without technically lying. If you’re dealing with someone with sales or legal training, it’s probably best to be on guard, and remember they’re not your friend.
Reader, if you’re reading and want to be credited, let me know. More often than not, people like the anonymity. Maybe we’re all Stenonymous.
A commentator wrote that in 2021 the rule was changed so that everybody had to resubmit their oath. So it is possible that it was not “lost,” but rather a thing that everybody had to do. Because of my lack of familiarity there, I can only go by what I’m told.
My source wrote to me stating they do not believe it was related to the resubmission issue in 2021.
I was sent this by a contact over social media. It’s labeled as an advertorial. And that alone gives us enough to pick it apart and figure out what it’s selling. It’s written by Christy Pratt, VP of Veritext Canada.
It goes a little into the history of reporting to give the rest of the piece some credibility. I have no problem with that. But then it gets to its main sell: The shortage is real and times are changing! Hey everybody! Did you know times change? You can trust the rest of the advertorial because the author is making perfect sense up to this point.
Remember, this is posted to Trial Lawyers of BC. It’s clear who the audience is. They don’t want lawyers to complain about the transition from steno to digital, where the author admits steno is still in heavy use. They want to paint digital as the solution. It’s much easier to tell someone what they want is not available instead of telling them you don’t want to give it to them. It’s a lie to limit consumer choice.
It’s worth noting that the shortage isn’t as bad as it was forecasted to be in America and that the Speech-to-Text Institute’s Jim Cudahy left the field when I accused him of fraud for spreading court reporter shortage disinformation. It’s also worth noting that Veritext is represented in the Speech-to-Text Institute’s leadership by Adam Friend, VP of business development, and has not made any attempt to correct the misleading information put out onto the market by STTI. Misleading information that threatens the futures of ourselves and our students, by the way. Does anyone believe that Veritext, a multimillion dollar corporation that benefits financially from the expansion of digital, would not spread the same lies in Canada?
I’ve had people lie to me over $5. When the future direction of an industry is at stake, does anyone believe this isn’t fabricated? And I’m sure I have a detractor or two who would point at me and say the same, but let’s be real, in my wildest dreams Stenonymous makes me maybe a million dollars someday because some rich person realizes how much fun it would be to set me loose on the world or Veritext realizes my creative genius can be bought (in reality, I lose money on my media activities, even with the support of my wonderful audience.) This industry is close to $3 billion annually by estimates I’ve seen. Who has a greater incentive to lie? And it’s not like they can claim they don’t know about my research now. They’re basically using my arguments on AI to make the case for why court reporters won’t be replaced. I’ve basically never had better proof that Veritext execs read the blog and understand at least part of my work.
To make matters worse, a source inside a big box is saying the nickel and diming of stenographers is getting worse despite the alleged demand. If they’re chipping away at the incomes of high-end realtime reporters, the average reporter isn’t going to stand a chance.
Reporters, organize and resist or be ruled by people that don’t care if you have a good life. That’s all there is to it. I know my methods come off as extreme, but it’s an extraordinary case where an entire profession is threatened with extinction based on a lie. It’s a classic what-would-you-do scenario, and I’d like to think that if every reporter had the same statistics and information that I have seen and published, they’d be just as outraged. They’d fight just as hard, and maybe harder.
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!
Today it was revealed on the Protect Your Record Project Facebook page that someone’s post was screenshotted and given to Veritext. The company then tried to “cause trouble” for one of our fellow reporters.
Needless to say, the rules of etiquette were reviewed. Sharing posts without permission is not allowed in the group. I got permission to share the basic points of this story and my comment.
Truth be told, this too is part of my strategy. It is my belief that court reporters are smart. Eventually, even people that haven’t read my work will realize that my fraud allegations hit a home run. They can’t sue because it’s true. They watched the statute of limitations on defamation come and go without a care in the world because they are spineless cowards that couldn’t bear to be confronted with what they do to the women and men of this profession and the lie that they spun to kill the profession itself. When court reporters realize that the STTI Bloc is a direct threat to their income, that NCRA is more or less legally barred from doing anything to stop them, that Christopher Day is ready to fight for them in a way that this profession hasn’t ever seen before, and that the multimillion dollar corporations have to pretend Christopher Day doesn’t exist thanks to the Streisand Effect, there’s a chance they’ll find the funding for Stenonymous. We fund the NCRA to the tune of about $3 million a year. To put that kind of money into perspective, it’s enough for me to retire and spend the rest of my life fighting for working reporters and against corruption in our field. I won’t ask for that. But I will ask those that have not contributed to contribute something using the front page of Stenonymous.com, my PayPal at ChristopherDay227@gmail.com, or my Venmo @Stenonymous.
I don’t just take your money and do nothing with it while waiting for some magic number. I run ad campaigns and have media commissioned. I run a pretty good internet campaign that stretches across many Google searches and social media accounts. But I’m at the point where I’ve spent a considerable amount of my own money to keep things going. I genuinely need some help. If you can’t contribute monetarily, I have been considering the merits of a letter writing campaign. Perhaps some of you would join that when announced, or at the very least encourage others to join that. As I see it, if we want to continue to have this culture and society, if we want the speed contests and camaraderie to continue, we need to get serious about pushing back. We need to push back so hard that not one person in this whole field will even consider corruption and lying to make a buck.
Easiest way to lose a game is to forfeit. We’re a profession that has fought over comma placement. Can’t we join together and fight this?