Best Practices For Remote Depositions
In March of 2020 the entire world came to a screeching halt amidst what would become a global pandemic. While we all hoped it would come to an end sooner rather than later, COVID continues to rage on. Today, nearly every industry has had to adjust to keep moving forward and accommodate customers and clients – including the legal industry. The word “remote” has become part of our everyday vocabulary. Remote depositions are now common, along with online witness preparations and even virtual trials. What are the best practices for remote depositions? Law firms in need of exceptional litigation support are invited to reach out to Kusar Court Reporters at 800-282-3376.
Questions and Instructions for the Deponent
According to the American Bar Association, there are preliminary instructions that should be given to the deponent along with questions to ask regarding potential outside interference in remote depositions:
- Are they looking at a cellphone, notepad, documents, or anything else outside of the screen the deposition is being taken on?
- Are there others in the room with the deponent?
- The deponent should be instructed to let the attorney know if another person comes into the room at any time during the deposition
- Attorneys should instruct deponents not to look at anything other than the screen while on the record, unless instructed otherwise
- Deponents should answer all questions by themselves, without looking to another person, at documents, or anything else when answering questions
- Other than the attorney, the deponent should agree that while on the record they will not communicate with anyone else via text messages, email, or any other type of communication
Getting Comfortable with Remote Deposition Technology
While many law firms are familiar with the technology used in taking or defending in remote depositions, there are some best practices to be aware of that increase the comfort level of both attorneys and clients. Consider the following:
- A plain or blank background projects professionalism, while windows, artwork, bookcases, and other objects can cast a shadow and take others’ attention elsewhere
- Ensure lighting is correct
- The camera angle can be adjusted by elevating the camera or laptop, as the speaker should be viewed straight on at eye level
- Microphones, headsets, laptops and other devices should be completely charged
- Computer audio can generate an echo or “vacant” quality, and the speaker’s voice should come across as crisp and clear as possible. Wired earbuds including a microphone that can be plugged into the computer are recommended for the best voice quality
- Instructional sessions with platform vendors and in-house technology consultants should be scheduled as many times as necessary
- Conduct mock depositions, rehearse, and practice – thorough preparation is key to success
Kusar Court Reporters provides a wide range of litigation support services including virtual conferencing and legal videography.
Make Sure All Involved Are in Agreement
All of those who will participate in your remote deposition should be aware of the date, time, and other specifics including the videographer and court reporter. Notify everyone of the chosen videoconferencing platform that will be used and be certain to consider time zones when preparing the deposition notice so that all involved have the correct version of your 2:00 PM. The specifics regarding actual date and time connection details should be included as well and can be provided by deposition vendors. It should also be clear in the deposition notice that the deposition is remote, which will clear up any confusion regarding where to appear.
Adversaries should agree in advance on conditions including:
- Dress code expectations
- What passwords, host controls, or other security is required (breakout rooms, waiting room)
- The video call vendor that will be used – all attendees can become familiar with the platform
- Internet connections and types of devices required
- How exhibits will be introduced
When the rules and conditions are prearranged from the beginning, remote depositions are more streamlined and straightforward.
Best Options for Exhibit Presentation
Attorneys should agree on the procedure and type of exhibits in a remote deposition, including their custody and uploading. The agreements must be communicated to the court reporter as well. Determine if exhibits can be used, transmitted, and marked during the remote deposition without being provided in advance and whether it is allowed by the available technology. The best options for presenting exhibits include:
Graphs, confidential documents, photos, and charts can be shared with participants within the video platform being used by opening the document so it displays on the screen and sharing it. Advance testing using different views is recommended.
Exhibit Management Software
There are several exhibit management programs that are excellent for remote depositions and other cases involving a large number of documents. These programs store documents in your account which can be accessed for the length of the case, and officially mark the documents as you proceed. The day of the deposition, have all participants join the exhibit management program.
Some law firms prefer not to be involved in the process at all. Using an online repository via hyperlink, a technician preloads documents that will be exhibited in the deposition in advance. As the deposition progresses, access to each document is provided by the technician. It is important to make sure all parties have been granted access.
According to the Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel, the procedural rules for remote depositions differ by state. In September of 2020, significant revisions to the Code of Civil Procedure were made in California, which now permits remote depositions via telephone or other remote devices.
Consider Kusar Court Reporters for All Your Litigation Support Needs
Considering so many conduct business in the virtual world today, it is important that law firms are familiar with the best practices for remote depositions. The client’s concerns, privacy, and a fair legal process are of the utmost importance. Kusar Court Reporters provides a wide array of services to law firms in California and throughout the country including audio transcription, virtual conferencing, interpreters, legal videography, qualified trial consultants, court reporting and more. Those interested in visiting with our outstanding team should call 800-282-3376.