With the emergence of new technologies and circumstances that prevent groups from gathering physically, options for legal proceedings have changed dramatically. If you are a litigator, you have likely already participated in remote trials, remote mediations, or even remote depositions. 

Remote legal proceedings can provide much-needed convenience to a busy attorney’s schedule, but they are not without their drawbacks. Please read on to learn what to avoid during a remote deposition and how our sophisticated suite of trial support services at Aptus Court Reporting can help you.

Being Disorganized with Your Exhibits

Do you want remote technology to help and not hinder your legal work? If you do, sometimes you need to be more organized than usual. This can be especially true when it comes to your exhibit packages for a deposition. 

Many attorneys opt to deliver digital exhibit packages to opposing counsel and deponents for remote depositions. This can streamline the process and cut costs. However, you must make sure that your digital packages are functional, easy to follow, and properly labeled before submitting them. 

You can keep your electronic exhibit packages organized by placing well-labeled bookmarks in the document. To make sure the bookmarks are easy to follow, practice accessing them while reviewing your deposition outline. If the deponent is your client or witness, have them practice navigating your package while you ask questions. 

Neglecting to Explore Your Technological Options Beforehand

Many remote deposition platforms and services have several technological features you can use to your advantage. For instance, if you are conducting a zoom deposition and a deponent cannot locate an exhibit from your electronic package, you can share your computer screen with the deponent to show them where you are. It is crucial to identify technological features like this and make sure you know how they work before you begin a deposition. This way, you can cut down on tense moments in an already adversarial proceeding. 

Also keep in mind that, in general, court reporters are to preserve only the spoken record. In their written record, a reporter does not typically include descriptions of a deponent’s behavior or demeanor. But if you need this information, you can hire a videographer to capture nonverbal conduct during a deposition. 

Being Unprepared for Technological Glitches

You might already have a tried-and-true method for conducting test runs of your deposition. But have you taken the time to conduct a test run with your remote deposition technology?

Testing your technology before remotely deposing a witness can help you avoid a number of serious issues, such as the appearance of unlawful witness coaching. How can technological glitches increase the likelihood of this issue? 

Consider the following example: Imagine an attorney’s witness has an unexpectedly poor internet signal during a deposition, and the witness’s responses are constantly interrupted by buffering. This can quickly fluster an attorney and a witness who did not prepare for the issue. 

After an interruption, an attorney might need to resubmit their question multiple times to get a clear record of the witness’s answer. And in re-asking their question, an attorney might be tempted to summarize what they were able to hear clearly from the witness. Opposing counsel could perceive this as unlawful coaching. If opposing counsel perceives unlawful coaching, they could request that a tribunal impose sanctions that prejudice a client and harm an attorney’s credibility. If you practice your deposition while using your remote technology, you can determine what technological issues you are likely to encounter. You can also develop a strategy for addressing glitches without risking your case’s integrity.

We Provide Full-Service Litigation Support for Your Remote Needs

Do you need a certified court reporter, remote court reporting, or legal transcription to aid you in your next deposition? We have the tools to help you at Aptus Court Reporting. We deliver state-of-the-art services for conducting effective remote depositions, including digital screen captures, videography, streaming text, and document sharing. We can also offer you case management services that include top-of-the-line customer service. Please call us at 866-999-8310 for more information.

people in a conference room

A deposition day can be just as significant as a trial day. Deposing a witness can help an attorney unearth information that guides their strategy or secure dispositive evidence. But there is no reason to be overwhelmed by this vital litigation tool. There are several deposition preparation steps you can take to help ensure you conduct a successful deposition. 

1. Be Clear About the Scope of Your Deposition

As the United States District Court for the Northern District of California notes, a deposition’s purpose is to aid you in discovering more evidence for your case or help you preserve witness testimony. But don’t stop at concluding whether you need a deposition for discovery or testimony; you also need to decide what specific information you will seek from a deposition.

Once you determine your specific deposition needs, completing the remainder of your preparation becomes easier. If you know the scope, you know what questions to ask and how to manage your exhibits.

It is also helpful to be clear with opposing counsel about the scope of a deposition (without unnecessarily exposing your strategy). If you and opposing counsel understand the purpose of a deposition, there should be less opportunity for irrelevant objections and frivolous questioning.

2. Review Interrogatory Responses and Other Discovery and Evidence You Already Have

If you already have discovery from opposing counsel, review it before and after you establish the scope of your deposition. You should also evaluate the evidence you have from your own investigations. Knowing what evidence you currently have helps you refine your questions and save time and money during the deposition. 

3. Make a Checklist of the Questions You Want to Ask and the Questions or Objections You Anticipate from Opposing Counsel

Even the best practitioner can become distracted during a deposition. Sometimes technology fails, witnesses give unexpected answers, or the other attorney challenges you more than you anticipated. By keeping a checklist of the information you need and noting each time you receive what you need, you can keep yourself calm and on task.

When your checklist includes questions and objections you anticipate from opposing counsel, you are more aware of what can go wrong and how to adapt. Your deposition checklist can also be a useful precursor and study tool for your trial preparation checklist.  

4. Prepare Your Witness

Whenever you are taking testimony from your client or another witness, witness preparation is key. Not only do you want to go over your prepared questions and the scope of the deposition with your witnesses, but you also want to make sure your witness knows what to expect.

A deposition can be odd to a layperson. There is no judge present, and you are not in a courtroom. Your witness might observe you and the other attorney make several objections that receive no response and have confusing discussions about going off the record. This can quickly fluster the average witness and affect the quality of their testimony. To combat witness confusion, speak to them thoroughly about what happens during a deposition and what is expected of them when there are objections or exchanges about going off the record.

5. Choose a Good Location for the Deposition

A comfortable and professional setting for your deposition can make a world of difference to your outcome. A deposition room equipped with the proper technology for deposition recording and other tools you will need is an important asset. Depositions are stressful enough, so you don’t need the strain of an inadequate deposition location to hinder your goals. At Aptus Court Reporting, we can secure a deposition room that is ideal for your needs. This service is free of charge if you set your case with us.

Our Litigation Support Tools Have You Covered

You can find the deposition support you need at Aptus Court Reporting. Our pool of talented and reliable California court reporters can create clean and accurate records for your litigation purposes. We also provide top-notch technology for presenting evidence, conducting remote proceedings, and managing your case. Call us at 866-999-8310 to help with all your case preparation needs.

There is no doubt the world we live in today is video-driven. It exists everywhere there is human activity. The legal field is no exception. Most attorneys today rely on video depositions as an effective tool to make their work easier.

Video depositions play a significant role in pre-trial discovery and overall trial prep. Expect the following benefits as you consider video for all your depositions.

1.      Demonstrate a Witness’ Body Language

Video evidence is a powerful way to get a glimpse at body language, allowing attorneys to present a compelling case. If you only submit a deposition transcription in the record trial, you fail to show the jury the witness’s spontaneous reactions, body language, and emotional state.

You fail to show the pregnant pauses, angry glares, and nervous fidgeting. With a video deposition, you show your witness’s full demeanor when they testify. These are important to the jury or when you are preparing your team for trial.

2.      Video Depositions Are More Cost-Effective

Video depositions can save you costly expert witness fees and travel expenses. In most cases, you will require an expert opinion from a doctor or a highly qualified and respected witness. These services are expensive, especially if your witness must travel long distances to attend trial sessions that could last several days.

Using a video testimony allows you to present the words any time during proceedings and repeated sessions;- it will save you a lot of money in the long run.

3.      Preparing For Trial

Video depositions are valuable tools outside the courtroom too. You can use the video for reference when deciding who to use as witnesses at trial or when preparing a direct cross-examination of the witnesses. You can review the video beforehand and make accurate assessments during preparation and when you plan and fine-tune your trial presentation.

4.      Hold the Jury’s Attention

When presenting evidence, the last thing you want to see is jurors losing interest. In the modern age, people are conditioned to pay attention to video as they see it everywhere, from televisions at home to YouTube on their smartphones.

You can keep your jurors attentive to the video screen for long periods with video depositions. They are also likely to pay attention and understand the depositions better than listen to a transcript read from a record.

5.      Impeaching a Witness

Changing witness testimony is common in courtrooms. If you have video depositions, you can impeach them without hassle. Seeing the witness make an obvious different statement from what they did before will have a significant impact than simply reading from a written transcript testimony.

Is A Video Deposition Right For Your Case?

There is no question that the world has changed in the past few years. More than ever, most people rely on video for entertainment and education. These have found their way into jury boxes worldwide.

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently reported that individuals who study video evidence find it more modest but meaningful and authentic than text. The same individuals also pay more attention to video evidence presented in a mix of textual and video evidence.

Now is a good time for litigators to reconsider the adage ‘seeing is believing’ that applies to court cases. A strategic video deposition will increase your presentation effectiveness and offer your client better results. With effective planning, you can use video depositions in your pre-trial prep to get the maximum benefit from this technology.

At Aptus Court Reporting, we want to help you succeed in your next deposition by scheduling it the way you want it designed. You can rely on our videography services, video streaming, and effective depositions technology to improve your presentations. Contact our video team to learn more about our videography & deposition recording services.