Video Depositions: Best Practices for a Smooth and Successful Process

Video depositions have become an indispensable tool in modern litigation. They offer flexibility, convenience, and cost-effectiveness compared to traditional in-person depositions.
image of man giving video deposition

However, to ensure a smooth and successful deposition that yields valuable testimony, it’s crucial to adhere to a set of best practices. This blog article will delve into the essential guidelines for attorneys and legal teams to optimize their video deposition outcomes.

Technical Considerations

Choose a Reliable Video Conferencing Platform

Select a platform with high-quality video and audio capabilities, screen-sharing options, and easy-to-use features for all participants. Popular choices include Zoom, Webex, and Microsoft Teams.

Test Technology Thoroughly

Well before the deposition, conduct a test run with all participants, including the deponent, attorneys, court reporter, and videographer (if applicable). Resolve any connectivity, audio, or video issues beforehand.

Optimal Lighting and Environment

Choose a well-lit, quiet room for the deponent with minimal background distractions. Ensure the deponent’s face is clearly visible and adjust lighting to avoid shadows or glare.

Internet Connectivity

Guarantee a strong, stable internet connection for all participants to prevent video freezing, dropped calls, or audio glitches. A wired connection is generally more reliable than Wi-Fi.

Deposition Setup and Logistics

Presence of a Court Reporter

A court reporter must be present to swear in the witness and create an official transcript. Ensure the reporter is comfortable using the video platform and can clearly hear and transcribe the proceedings.

Legal Videographer

Consider having a professional videographer present to record the deposition. This can provide valuable visual cues on the deponent’s demeanor and credibility.

Document Sharing

Devise a system for sharing exhibits or documents during the deposition. Options include screen-sharing, uploading files to a shared platform, or providing hard copies in advance.

Backup Plan

Have a contingency plan in case of technical difficulties. This may involve switching to an alternate platform, postponing the deposition, or utilizing audio-only as a last resort.

Conducting the Video Deposition

  • Introductions and Ground Rules: Begin the deposition by having all participants introduce themselves and their roles. Clearly outline any ground rules, such as avoiding off-the-record conversations or addressing technical issues.
  • Manage Virtual Environment: Ensure everyone has their microphones muted when not speaking to minimize background noise. Encourage participants to look directly at the camera when speaking to simulate eye contact.
  • Clarity and Pace: Speak clearly, enunciate, and avoid talking over one another. Pause briefly after questions and answers to allow the court reporter to keep a verbatim record.
  • Managing Exhibits: When referencing exhibits, verbally identify them clearly for the record (e.g., “Exhibit 3”). Have a system for ensuring both the deponent and the reporter can see the exhibit simultaneously.
  • Breaks: Video depositions can be tiring. Schedule regular breaks to allow the deponent, attorneys, and court reporter to rest.

Dealing with Challenges

  • Coaching the Deponent: While preparing the deponent, emphasize the importance of not looking off-camera for cues or assistance. They should treat the deposition like an in-person experience.
  • Objections: Clearly state objections on the record, providing concise grounds. Consider having attorneys agree beforehand on a protocol for how to handle objections during a video deposition.
  • Technical Difficulties: If technical issues arise, remain calm and troubleshoot quickly. If the issue cannot be resolved promptly, it might be necessary to adjourn and reschedule the deposition.
  • Security: Always use a secure video conferencing platform with end-to-end encryption to protect confidentiality and prevent unauthorized access to deposition recordings.

Video depositions offer significant advantages, but they require careful preparation and execution to maximize their effectiveness. By following these best practices and prioritizing clear communication and technical preparedness, attorneys can successfully navigate video depositions and enhance their litigation strategies. Remember, technology should serve the process of justice, not hinder it.