If you have never used video technology in your legal depositions, you may wonder if there’s a right time and a wrong time to capture footage while deposing a witness. In short, as long as it’s legal in your jurisdiction, there’s no reason not to use video depositions. After all, they serve as powerful evidence in the courtroom—but only if done correctly.
Reasons to Videotape a Deposition
While there are pros and cons to video depositions, most attorneys choose to pursue them these days. Here are the top reasons to videotape your next deposition:
- Provide video testimony of absentee witnesses to deliver as genuine an experience as possible for the jury.
- Save money on expert witness fees and travel expenses by deposing them remotely rather than asking them to fly in and testify in person.
- Demonstrate the witness’s body language and tone as they answer certain questions. Even if the words are the same on a written transcript, seeing and hearing how a witness delivers them can be highly informative.
- Hold the jury’s attention by showing interesting video footage rather than reading from a transcript in a monotonous tone.
- Help you prepare to cross-examine witnesses and fine-tune your trial presentation by re-watching the video as many times as you want.
- Compare videotaped testimony with live testimony during the trial. If there are any discrepancies, the jury may choose to impeach the witness.
Video Deposition Dos and Don’ts
While you almost always want to video record your depositions (assuming they are legally permitted in your area), there are a few caveats of doing so. Consider these dos and don’ts to help you avoid any pitfalls of video depositions:
- Do prepare your witness to prevent any surprises or outbursts on camera. Remind them that when in doubt, phrases such as, “I don’t know” and “I don’t recall” are appropriate responses.
- Do use professional video and audio recording equipment to ensure a clear image and easy-to-understand testimony.
- Do synchronize the video recording to a written transcript so the jury can read the words on paper while the witness says them in the video.
- Don’t film the deposition yourself. Your job is to represent your client, not focus on videography. Let someone else take on the physical camerawork and footage editing so you can give your full attention to your client.
- Don’t cut corners. A friend with a video camera and wedding photography experience isn’t the right person for the job. Only trust your video depositions to a certified level video specialist to make sure you get the footage you need the first time around.
At Talty Court Reporters, we utilize the latest technology to deliver the very best results in your legal case. Turn to us for top-quality video and audio conferencing, remote depositions, court reporting, transcribing services, and much more. For additional information about our services or to request a cost estimate, please contact us today.