Posted by: Judy Barrett | December 13, 2010

“Contextual Reading”

On her Web site, www.JoyfulScoping.com, Devon Roberts has repeatedly claimed, over a long period of time, that hers is “the only scoping training program which teaches contextual reading to its students.”

I have received an e-mail from a party unknown to me who is requesting clarification about the meaning of the term “contextual reading” as it applies to scoping.  This person states that an acquaintance is involved in the Scoping Intern Program (SIP) through Scoping Made Affordable, and needs help in ascertaining whether the information she is receiving is accurate.

Specifically, a sample is given in the e-mail of the type of material being used to teach the “contextual reading” part of the SMA program.  The writer stresses that what she has sent is not the original, copyrighted text used for the SMA course, but a sample of the way the material is being presented.

Here is a prototype of the assigned material for the “contextual reading” class, a small portion of a deposition taken in the O. J. Simpson case:

Simpson before the last month and a half did he ever discuss with you his feelings about Nicole Yes he did Was that pretty much the subject matter of the conversation Always Can you tell us what he would say about Nicole what feelings he would express to you about Nicole Yes He had a way of saying the same thing over and over and over and over again It’s very – his – he admitted to being obsessed with Nicole He admitted to being so in love with her that he didn’t know how to handle it He felt that he no longer had control over Nicole during their reconciliation as he had when they were married He felt that – he said that he would do everything in his power to keep their relationship intact He said that he had never loved any woman like he loved Nicole He said that Nicole makes him crazy He said that he has – there were so many things that he said We can go on and on and on but he was – to sum it up I would say that the majority of the time he felt that he didn’t possess Nicole during the reconciliation He felt he didn’t he wasn’t able to control her And did he say that he wanted to Yes Now these are all things that OJ Simpson said to you   Yes In numerous conversations in 1993 and 1994 Numerous In these conversations when he would talk about how much he wanted to control Nicole and how he loved her and so forth did you ever ask him about his infidelity Yes I did What did you ask him When he would tell me – when he said to me – and when I say “tell me” because it was the same phone calls over and over again and the same line of answers I would say to him you say you will do anything to keep the relationship together At the same time you are continuing to see Paula Barbieri and you expect Nicole to believe you and she’s aware of the fact that you are still seeing Paul His response was that he had to see Paula every now and then because he had left her so abruptly to go back to Nicole and that she kept calling him and she said that – I mean he said that it really had nothing to do with his relationship with Nic Nic meaning Nicole Yes Did you ask him about infidelity before his divorce from Nicole in these various conversations  MR LEONARD: Object to the leading Yes I did And relate to us what you asked him and what he said to you in those discussions or in the discussion of his infidelity during the marriage   He said that Nicole didn’t like the things that he liked that Nicole didn’t go places with him that Nicole didn’t travel with him so how was he supposed to be faithful He said that it was – that he was unfaithful because that’s what he did He didn’t justify it other than to say you know it was Nicole’s fault because she wouldn’t travel with him Did you discuss with Mr Simpson specific names of women he had dated during his marriage to Nicole Paula Barbieri I – No during his marriage if you recall No I don’t believe I had any conversations with him as far as names Now how did you know that he was seeing Paula Barbieri during this attempted reconciliation with Nicole We had heard that he had been seen by one of the tabloid magazines with Paul Nicole confronted OJ with it and he lied he denied it  Nicole told you she confronted OJ with it Yes she told me he – Did Nicole tell you what OJ said She said he denied it Did he deny it to you on the telephone when he talked about Paula No he did not Did Nicole at any time ever break off the relationship during this approximate one-year period because Mr Simpson was seeing Paula Barbieri again  MR LEONARD: Object to the leading I wouldn’t say she didn’t – I wouldn’t say she broke it off  I would say she did confront him and spent maybe a week without him and they would talk it out and get back and try to continue with the reconciliation  Are you aware of any other relationships that Mr Simpson had during this reconciliation period other than Paula Barbieri  No I am not  Would Mr Simpson during this period of time this one-year or so period of this attempted reconciliation call you more than one time a day   

In the material for the assignment, all CONTEXT has been stripped out.  Paragraphing with Q and A (Question and Answer), as well as all punctuation have been removed.

Devon Roberts told her class, according to the information in the e-mail I received, that they could expect to get material “like this” from court reporters.  And she also stated that it was “good for your brain” to go through such an exercise.

While it is true that some questions and some answers in a transcript can be long and convoluted, and do require the use of dashes and commas to set off various parts of a sentence or paragraph, and need paragraphing to break up long passages, the above example is the stuff of fantasy.  It will not happen.

The person sending the e-mail indicated that Devon Roberts stated, in the process of teaching the class, that in the last five years, court reporting schools are no longer teaching punctuation, that court reporting students are “just not getting it,” and that is the reason she is pushing reporters to take her scoping training class, so she can teach them the rules of punctuation while helping them learn to proofread and/or scope.

I am sure that court reporting schools around the country will be amazed to hear this claim, since a major part of *any* court reporting training program is English grammar and punctuation.

Just as it sometimes happens that a person receives a degree from a university, a degree which should be a reliable indicator that the student receiving the diploma actually has mastered the basics of the English language (but in fact has not), it also happens that some people manage to get through court reporting school, and in some cases become certified by their state, but still have inadequate language skills.  In such a situation, that court reporter would be well advised to seek out the counsel of recognized authorities in English usage for the court reporting field – people who have been in the court reporting field for years and know whereof they speak!

Just as Devon Roberts claims to offer remedial help to people who have taken “other scoping training programs,” now she modestly offers such remedial training to people who have undergone court reporting training – to completion or not!

A sample of the way the above transcript material would really look when sent by a court reporter is below.  It is true that in the process of writing at high speeds (as they always are required to do), reporters sometimes leave off ending punctuation, which has to be added in the editing process.  And sometimes lines stack, and a question and answer may appear on the same line, requiring editing.  But no court reporter will ever, ever send a block of text like the above sample.  Their CAT software formats the transcript to look like what is seen below.  And no scopist with any savvy would deign to become involved in such an obvious distortion.

The sample below has already been scoped, since it is in the public record online.  The original document would have included untranslated steno, which would need to be converted to English, and there would have been a need to do the normal things a scopist does – capitalize words, put in punctuation, READ IN CONTEXT to see that the transcript does not contain glaring errors.  Beyond that, it is the court reporter’s responsibility to do the final proofreading and certification of the document.

-o0o-

This is the actual transcript of the material, above, which was stripped of all context, including Q and A designations, and punctuation:

Q. In these various and numerous telephone and personal conversations you had with Mr. Simpson, before the last month and a half, did he ever discuss with you his feelings about Nicole?

A. Yes, he did.

Q. Was that pretty much the subject matter of the conversations?

A. Always.

Q. Can you tell us what he would say about Nicole, what feelings he would express to you about Nicole?

A. Yes He had a way of saying the same thing over and over and over and over again. It’s very – his – he admitted to being obsessed with Nicole. He admitted to being so in love with her that he didn’t know how to handle it. He felt that he no longer had control over Nicole during their reconciliation as he had when they were married. He felt that – he said that he would do everything in his power to keep their relationship intact. He said that he had never loved any woman like he loved Nicole. He said that Nicole makes him crazy. He said that he has – there were so many things that he said. We can go on and on and on, but he was – to sum it up, I would say that the majority of the time he felt that he didn’t possess Nicole during the reconciliation. He felt he didn’t, he wasn’t able to control her.

Q. And did he say that he wanted to?

A. Yes.

Q. Now, these are all things that O.J. Simpson said to you?

A. Yes.

Q. In numerous conversations, in 1993 and 1994?

A. Numerous.

Q. In these conversations, when he would talk about how much he wanted to control Nicole and how he loved her and so forth, did you ever ask him about his infidelity?

A. Yes, I did.

Q. What did you ask him?

A. When he would tell me – when he said to me – and when I say “tell me,” because it was the same phone calls over and over again, and the same line of answers, I would say to him, you say you will do anything to keep the relationship together. At the same time you are continuing to see Paula Barbieri and you expect Nicole to believe you and she’s aware of the fact that you are still seeing Paula. His response was that he had to see Paula every now and then because he had left her so abruptly to go back to Nicole and that she kept calling him and she said that – I mean, he said that it really had nothing to do with his relationship with Nic.

Q. Nic, meaning Nicole?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you ask him about infidelity before his divorce from Nicole, in these various conversations?

MR. LEONARD: Object to the leading.

A. Yes, I did.

Q. And relate to us what you asked him and what he said to you in those discussions or in the discussion of his infidelity during the marriage.

A. He said that Nicole didn’t like the things that he liked, that Nicole didn’t go places with him, that Nicole didn’t travel with him, so how was he supposed to be faithful. He said that it was – that he was unfaithful, because that’s what he did. He didn’t justify it other than to say, you know, it was Nicole’s fault because she wouldn’t travel with him.

Q. Did you discuss with Mr. Simpson specific names of women he had dated during his marriage to Nicole?

A. Paula Barbieri, I –

Q. No, during his marriage, if you recall.

A. No, I don’t believe I had any conversations with him as far as names.

Q. Now, how did you know that he was seeing Paula Barbieri during this attempted reconciliation with Nicole?

A. We had heard that he had been seen by one of the tabloid magazines, with Paula. Nicole confronted O.J. with it and he lied, he denied it.

Q. Nicole told you she confronted O.J. with it?

A. Yes, she told me he –

Q. Did Nicole tell you what O.J. said?

A. She said he denied it.

Q. Did he deny it to you on the telephone when he talked about Paula?

A. No, he did not.

Q. Did Nicole at any time ever break off the relationship during this approximate one-year period because Mr. Simpson was seeing Paula Barbieri again?

MR. LEONARD: Object to the leading.

A. I wouldn’t say she didn’t – I wouldn’t say she broke it off. I would say she did confront him and spent maybe a week without him and they would talk it out and get back and try to continue with the reconciliation.

Q. Are you aware of any other relationships that Mr. Simpson had during this reconciliation period, other than Paula Barbieri?

A. No, I am not. Q. Would Mr. Simpson, during this period of time, this one-year or so period of this attempted reconciliation, call you more than one time a day?

A. Sometimes Mr. Simpson, O.J., would call me six and seven times a day, sometimes more, sometimes less.

Q. And would he call at all hours of the day or night?

-o0o- 

 

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