The Tennis Court, Dimensions And Surfaces

Tennis courts are standard in dimension, but vary widely in surface material. Tennis rules dictate the length, width, and placement of the lines on a tennis court. Tennis courts have a variety of surfaces and can be either outdoors or indoors. In this article, we will introduce the basic dimensions and aspects of the tennis courts and discuss the different types of tennis court surfaces.

The rules of tennis dictate that tennis courts be 78 feet long from baseline to baseline. A net, 3 feet high in the middle, divides the court into two equal halves. Tennis courts are 36 feet wide from doubles sideline to doubles sideline, and 27 feet wide from singles sideline to singles sideline.

Unlike the dimensions of a tennis court, the tennis court surface can vary in character. The different surfaces have different characteristics that affect the style of play. Common surfaces for outdoor tennis courts include grass, red clay, green clay, and hard courts. In addition, indoor tennis courts often have hard surfaces or synthetic, carpet-like surfaces.

The very first tennis courts were made of grass. While the number of grass tennis courts has decreased in recent years, some remain, and the world’s most prestigious tennis tournament, The Championships at Wimbledon, is still played on grass tennis courts.

Grass tennis courts are considered a fast surface because the ball moves quickly through the court when it bounces. Typically, the ball stays low and close to the ground. Because of the speed of the court and the unreliability of the bounce, historically players playing on grass tennis courts prefer to volley the ball out of the air whenever possible.

Red clay and green clay are the two types of clay, or slow, court surfaces. Red clay tennis courts are made of natural clay or crushed red brick. The French Open is played on red clay courts. Green clay, the more common type of clay court in the U.S., is made of Har-Tru, a mixture of crushed stone, rubber, and plastics. Clay courts are considered slow because the ball bounces more slowly off the court. Typically, players playing on clay tennis courts prefer to hit balls off the bounce from behind the baseline.

Hard courts, the most common court surface in the U.S., are another fast court surface. Hard courts are made of asphalt or concrete coated with a thin sealer and special paint. Some types of hard courts have more extensive, rubberized coatings. The ball bounces high off hard tennis court surfaces and moves through the court quickly. Because the ball has a reliable bounce and the ball moves quickly off the court, players can employ a variety of tactics. Generally, aggressive play is preferred.

Finally, tennis players also play indoors, especially during the winter, on indoor tennis courts. Indoor tennis court surfaces are made of concrete or a synthetic or plastic material that mimics grass. Indoor tennis courts are generally the fastest tennis court surface of all. At the professional level, hard serves, volleys, and powerful grounds trokes dominate matches on indoor tennis courts.

7 Common Myths About Court Reporting

There’s a lot of misinformation floating around out there about court reporters and the services they provide the legal and business community. This article is designed to help separate myth from fact surround court reporters and the work they provide their clients.

Myth #1: Court reporters are just glorified typists

Fact: Court reporting is one of the most demanding fields in and around the legal profession. Unlike typists or word processors, court reporter must listen to, and translate the human voice with incredible

Myth #2: Technology will replace the court reporter

Fact: One would think that by now computers and video equipment would have rendered the court reporter obsolete. But the fact is, there is no substituting the human element in court reporting. Court reporters can provide essential emphasis on words and phrases and other vital portions of the process.

Myth #3: Court reporters are all women

Fact: The historical image of the courtroom stenographer is that of a dapper-looking woman sitting cross-legged in the court room. But now, the profession is almost equally divided between men and women.

Myth #4: A good court reporter is hard to find

Fact: Although court reporters are always in demand, it is now easier than ever to find a good one thanks to the Internet. Many top court reporting services now use the web to give their clients the power to book court reporters or transcribers with the click of a mouse.

Myth #5: There’s not much else a court report can do except…report

Fact: Now, more than ever, court reporters can provide a wide variety of services not only to law firms but the general business community as well. In addition to court room and deposition transcriptions, court reporters use their speed and accuracy to perform real-time closed captioning for the hearing impaired, transcribe the spoken word in audio and video materials and even give businesses a way to create records of shareholders meetings and other important corporate events.

Myth #6: Most of a court reporters time is spent in the court room

Fact: Like the legal community they serve, a large percentage of the court reporter’s billable time is not spent in front of a judge. Instead, it is much more likely to find a court reporter in a law office working on a deposition. The court reporter’s work on a deposition is crucial, as they create a written record of testimony that can be used as evidence, or to corroborate that witness’ story once they do appear in court.

Myth #7: Court reporters look different than everyone else in the courtroom

Fact: Professional, experienced court reporters always dress and conduct themselves in such a way that represents their clients well. In fact, it should be hard to tell the court report from the attorney in most cases. Court reporters arrive on time and never make themselves the focal point during proceedings. To perform the duties with perfection, and NOT be noticed is essence of their work.

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The Differences Between State and Federal Court for Criminal Defendents

When a potential client calls our firm and tells us that they are charged with a criminal offense, one the first things we generally ask them is whether they are charged in state or federal court. There have been several instances where we have represented two individuals at the same time who are charged with similar offenses but one has been charged in federal court and one has been charged in state court. Indeed, this has happened several times where we have simultaneously been representing two individuals charged with drug offenses but one is charged in state court and one is charged in federal court. It also happened very recently where we simultaneously represented a defendant charged with a child pornography offense in state court and also represented a defendant (actually he was the spouse of an FBI agent) charged with a child pornography offense in federal court.

The reason that this is such a concern is that, often, the results for the defendants charged in state court are dramatically different than the results for the defendants charged in federal court. Indeed, it is not unusual for a defendant charged with a drug offense or child pornography offense in state court in Dallas County to be placed on probation and a defendant charged with the same or similar offense in federal court to be sentenced to ten year or more in prison.

Why is this? In state court in Texas, regardless of the offense with which a defendant is charged with, he can be placed on some type of community supervision. For example a defendant can commit murder and be placed on community supervision in state court. On the other hand, federal court sentencing is done under a system of guidelines that score a defendant’s offense and criminal history using a grid system. This grid system can lead to very harsh sentences even for first time offenders. Moreover, most drug offenses in federal court require “mandatory minimum” sentences under the federal, drug statutes. I recall one time many years ago representing a client charged with counterfeiting in federal court who faced a two year sentence under the federal sentencing guidelines and his wife bringing me a newspaper article about a murder defendant in state court being placed on probation and me having to explain to her the unfair differences between state court sentencing and federal court sentencing.

The differences result from being charged in state court versus federal court is not only limited to the ultimate sentences imposed.

First, in many Texas counties, a defendant charged in state court can make a presentation to the grand jury in an attempt to convince the grand jury not to indict him in the first place. Such presentations cannot be made to federal grand juries and it is rare that a federal grand jury will refuse a prosecutor’s request to return an indictment.

Second, often the chances of winning a case at trial or having the case dismissed prior to trial in state court can be significantly higher than in federal court. One reason is that the offenses prosecuted in state court are investigated by local police departments who are not nearly as well trained as federal agents who normally investigate the offenses prosecuted in state court. Consequently, sometimes mistakes are made by the local police officers that can be used to a client’s advantage. Likewise, federal prosecutors tend to be more experienced and have more resources than state prosecutors. Another reason that the chances of winning a case in state court can be significantly higher than in federal court, at least in Dallas County, is that state court juries are selected from Dallas County residents only and tend to be lest prosecutorial oriented. On the other hand, federal juries for the federal court that sits in Dallas (the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas) are chosen from residents of several of the surrounding Texas counties (some over an hour away) including many of the more conservative “law and order” areas. Still another reason that the chances of winning a case in state court can be significantly higher than in federal court is that Texas state law permits the suppression of evidence in more circumstances than federal law.

Third, suppose a defendant receives a ten-year sentence in state court and a different defendant receives a ten-year sentence in federal court. The defendant in state court might be paroled after serving only a couple of years of his sentence. On the other hand, parole has been abolished in the federal system and defendants serve 85 percent of their sentences.

Fourth, in state court, if a defendant enters a plea agreement with the prosecution, he will know exactly the sentence he will receive if the judge accepts the plea and he will often be sentenced on the same day they enter their guilty plea. On the other hand, most plea bargains in federal court require a defendant to plead guilty not knowing the sentence he will ultimately receive and the sentence will not be imposed until two-three months after the defendant enters his guilty plea. A defendant in federal court must rely upon the skill of his defense lawyer to accurately calculate the sentencing guidelines and, even then, the judge might give a harsher sentence than is provided for under the guidelines. Also a defendant in federal court will not be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea if, at the sentencing held a few months later, the sentence is harsher than his lawyer predicted.

Fifth, because the federal system is a lot more complicated, only a small percentage of criminal lawyers can effectively represent a defendant in federal court. Indeed, as we have explained elsewhere, a defendant charged with a crime in federal court must carefully question his lawyer regarding that lawyer’s experience in federal court and should ask the lawyer to give them a print out from the PACER system as to the number of defendants the lawyer has represented in federal court. Selecting a Criminal Defense Lawyer In any event, given the limited supply of criminal lawyers that can effectively represent a defendant in federal court, legal fees tend to be significantly higher for defendants charged with crimes in federal court.

There might be some advantages to being charged in federal court.

First, while this is a gross generalization, federal judges tend to be smarter than their state court counterparts. State court judges in Texas are elected and anybody with a law license is eligible to run. The President of the United States appoints federal judges for life. Thus, if a defendant has a technical legal argument, a federal judge might better receive it. Likewise, a federal judge does not have to run for reelection and might be less likely to make decisions based on public perception. Still, remember that, when it comes to sentencing, federal judges must give significant weight to the harsh federal sentencing guidelines.

Second, in state court, a defendant is required to post bail to secure their release prior to trial. In federal court, many defendants are released without being required to post bail. On the other hand, in state court bail is set in all cases, whereas, in federal court, if it is determined that a defendant is a danger to the community or a flight risk, bail might not be set at all and a defendant will be detained pending trial.

Generally speaking, a person has no control over whether they are charged in state court or federal court. Many crimes can only be prosecuted in state court (for example, except in limited circumstances or in cases involving federal lands, murders and assaults are only prosecuted in state court). For the most part, the type of offenses that generally overlap are: drug offenses, child pornography offenses, fraud offenses involving banks and embezzlement schemes. Usually it will depend on what agency investigates the case (e.g. the local police as opposed to the FBI, DEA, IRS and alike) as to where the case is brought. Nevertheless, on some rare occasions, if a lawyer gets involved prior to formal charges being brought, that lawyer might be able to influence the forum in which the charge is brought. This is an important reason to retain an attorney as soon as you find out that you are being investigated for a criminal offense.

The Politics of Gender/Ethnicity in Appointing the Next Supreme Court Justice

Justice David Souter has confirmed rumors of his retirement from the United States Supreme Court with a call to President Obama at the White House. Now comes speculation on who will replace him.

This will be the first Supreme Court appointment for a Democratic President in more than fifteen years. The pick will most likely not change the ideological balance of the Supreme Court in that Souter was a liberal minded justice contrary to what was thought his leaning at the time he was appointed by then President George H. W. Bush.

As might be expected, another liberal leaning justice will most likely be the pick. There is strong support for a female to be the replacement as there is only one female on the court as of now, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, seventy six years of age and not in the best of health having battled cancer several times during her tenure.

This can be discerned by early discussions from liberal and feminist organizations weighing in on this as soon as it was rumored that Souter would be retiring leading one to assume they had been ready for any announcement of any retirement of justices several of whom will undoubtedly consider it soon.

“We’re looking for President Obama to choose an eminently qualified candidate who is committed to the core constitutional values, who is committed to justice for all and not just a few.” So says Nan Aron, leader of the ultra-liberal/activist Alliance for Justice. Read: “We are looking for another liberal on the court to maintain the status quo.” They will undoubtedly push for a woman. It will be interesting to see their positions and recommendations.

Now it gets sticky even if we assume President Obama will pick a liberal justice. Pressure will be on him to choose a woman – big time. Here we get into the arena of gender and/or ethnic politics. Critics of the Supreme Court have long accused it of being a bastion of conservative white males not reflective of the population as a whole. Cries have long echoed from various women’s groups to even the playing field by appointing more women to our nation’s highest judicial group.

Several women possibilities have been mentioned as candidates including Judge Diane Wood of Chicago, Judge Sonia Sotomayor of  the appeals court in New York, and Judge Kim Wardlaw of the U.S. 9th Circuit among others. It will be interesting to see the complete list of women who surface as potential nominees.

President Obama has not committed himself to appoint a woman as a matter of principle. He iterates he is looking for a good constitutional law candidate, one imminently qualified to do the job and not necessarily a candidate from this or that political activist group. But don’t underestimate the pressure from women’s groups to do just that. It will be immense and unrelenting to the point of being nearly insurmountable and not politically feasible to ignore. And ethnic groups, mainly the Hispanics, will weigh in heavily on nominating one of their choices.

So the waiting begins. Will feminists prevail on the President? Will Hispanics clamor for their ethnic ‘dues’? It will be an interesting exercise in gender as well as ethnic politics – moreso than the most recent Presidential election process which was awash in such nonsense that it was about time we had a woman in the White House – as if that should have been the only consideration in our choice. Thankfully, not many succumbed to that argument although Hillary certainly pushed the limit on it. She may have claimed to having cracked the glass ceiling, but the voting public, who could have astoundingly shattered it, saw through her gender politics for just what it was – hogwash.

Interestingly, the most sense I have heard so far on this selection process comes from the most unlikely of sources, Alan Dershowitz of Harvard Law School fame. In a conversation with Nora O’Donnell of MSNBC, the question of gender, ethnicity, as well as race was put on the table as a consideration in selecting the next justice. Mr. Dershowitz quickly quelled any thoughts of these factors by saying that “representational pressure” should not be a consideration in Obama’s choice. Instead he strongly advocated the most qualified should be the selected candidate – no other factors should be part of the decision. He especially denounced picking any judges as replacements. This was an astounding proclamation by Alan considering his liberal bent evidenced by his past legal discussions.

The flip side of Dershowitz’s cautionary advice is the clamor from gender/ethnic affiliations to appoint one from their group. Immediately following O’Donnell’s segment on MSNBC, Chris Matthews of ‘Hardball’ hosted several guests to discuss the upcoming nomination. “Does President Obama’s Supreme Court pick need to be a woman? Does it need to be a Hispanic nominee?” Chris asked of his guests.

One was a National Organization for Women representative who subtly advocated for a woman replacement for Souter. “It makes a difference. It increases the voice. It increases a perspective. And it adds something to the entire body. There’s actually research that says that male judges tend to vote a little differently when there are women on the court with them.” said NOW President Kim Gandy.

But the most egregious example of what Dershowitz warns about was supplied by Ruben Navarrette, a staff columnist for The San Diego Union-Tribune and an avid pro-immigration advocate favoring the immigration invasion of our country by especially Mexicans – his heritage – here legally or illegally. Ruben revealed his perverse, ethnically unbalanced position when he answered a query from Chris concerning appointing a Hispanic to the Court: “We’re due!” he defiantly exclaimed as if this is some sort of lottery. “And I don’t just mean we’re due from the Obama administration. I mean we’re due throughout history…the real reason that you need to put a Latino on the Supreme Court, this is the fastest growing minority… this is a minority that, by 2032, will represent a quarter of the entire country…It’s the Latinos` turn to break their barrier.”

Ruben continues his whiny tirade for justice for Hispanics: “It’s easy enough for white males to come forward and say that race and ethnicity or gender shouldn’t matter. But the fact is, this is the way we have always done this. And whether it was important for Italian-Americans to get Antonin Scalia there, or important for African-Americans to get Thurgood Marshall there, why is it, all of a sudden, when it’s Latinos` turn, that, oh, that’s identity politics? …It’s just not fair.”

Imagine that? Have we really come to the juncture in our country where the spoils of government are appropriated according to gender, ethnicity, or race? Apparently, and regrettably, so.

This will be the first of what will likely be numerous Supreme Court justice appointments that President Obama will be privileged to make. There are perhaps three rumored retirements in the near future in addition to Souter. His choices will be scrutinized by left and right groups to the extent each will be contentious.

It is his call. Let’s keep our eyes open and our minds clear on this first one to see if it reveals any hidden agendas, political motivation, character traits, or what Dershowitz warns of: “representational pressure”.

How To Earn A Court Reporter Degree For An Exciting and Rewarding Career

In response to the heightened demand for reporters used in courtrooms and depositions, as well as those who provide the closed captioning seen on TV and other services for the hearing impaired, court reporting certification programs are on the rise.

“Not only are court reporters in very high demand, but they also experience extremely rewarding careers,” explains Patricia Falls, owner of The School of Court Reporting, a leading provider of court reporter degrees based in Marlton, New Jersey.  “The court reporting profession has zero unemployment, and a first-year earning potential of up to $80,000, with the ability to earn even more.”

According to Falls, there are many options for enrolling in court reporter certification programs.  Students can choose day or evening classes, full-time or part time courses and online or onsite learning programs.  Falls shares insider’s tips into earning a court reporter degree for maximum career growth potential.

1. Know Your Learning Style.

How and when you learn best will determine what type of program is right for you.  Do you have the ability to go to school full-time, or does a career limit you to part-time and evenings only?  What about distance learning?  Do you prefer to learn in the classroom, or from the comfort of your own home?

2.  Do Your Homework.

When evaluating schools, make sure to ask about their job placement rates and teaching methodologies.  A credible provider of court reporting certification programs should teach a real-time theory (such as the Phoenix Theory) and hold certifications by the Board of Shorthand Reporting and other relevant institutions.

3.  See The Big Picture.

Look for a court reporter degree program that provides internships and training to support the expanding role of court reporting.  Training in captioning, cyber-conferencing, scoping and transcribing can prove invaluable in a court reporting career.

For more information about court reporting certification programs, please visit the school of court reporting at http://www.theschoolofcourtreporting.com or call 856-988-0800.