Conquering The Legal Challenges Of Remote Exhibit Sharing In Virtual Depositions
The legal industry is one of the oldest institutions in the nation. Many people associate court proceedings as in-person courtroom battles. However, many types of cases can potentially be resolved without ever entering a courtroom, including those resolved through negotiations, arbitration, or mediation. Even if a court date is in the future for a particular case, costs can often be minimized by optimizing virtual capabilities. While virtual depositions are quickly becoming the new normal, there still pose various challenges. Kusar Court Reporters can help you with all aspects of this process, including remote exhibit sharing in virtual depositions. Consider contacting us at (800) 282-3376 to learn more how we can help.
Why Virtual Depositions?
The Sacramento County Public Law Library & Civil Self Help Center defines a deposition as “the taking of a statement of a witness or party under oath.” A virtual deposition is one in which the process is completed with the assistance of audio-visual equipment. One party or witness may be in a different location than the others, or all of the parties may be physically located in different settings.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 30 states that parties can consent to a deposition, or the court can order a deposition to be conducted by telephone or other means. Many parties took advantage of this flexibility during the COVID-19 pandemic when many court functions were shut down. Virtual depositions allow people who are geographically distant to participate in depositions.
Virtual depositions can potentially help reduce costs since parties do not have to pay for travel expenses. They can also expedite cases since calendaring is more flexible when conducting virtual, rather than in-person, proceedings.
What Is Remote Exhibit Sharing?
When a lawyer wants a witness to comment on a piece of evidence, they must usually establish a foundation that the witness knows what the piece of evidence is and what their opinion is about it. Typically, the lawyer will refer to the piece of evidence as an exhibit. The exhibit is copied and included in the official transcript. Typically, exhibits are shared in person between the parties. However, in remote exhibit sharing, the lawyers and parties view the exhibit from a remote platform.
Possible Legal Challenges of Remote Exhibit Sharing
Some potential legal challenges that parties must be prepared to confront regarding remote exhibit sharing in virtual depositions include the following:
Influence by the Other Attorney
Litigators may object to remote exhibit sharing if they believe a witness’ testimony may be influenced by the other attorney. The attorney may be off-camera and may be directing the witness’ testimony. The attorney could even be showing the witness notecards or other items to influence their testimony.
Before evidence can be admitted to the record, a lawyer must authenticate the document. Remote exhibit sharing in virtual depositions may call into question the authenticity of evidence, or even its existence. The adversary may even wonder if the other attorney has fabricated documents or other evidence.
Problems may arise during the deposition if a party cannot view the document that is being discussed because it is in an inaccessible format.
Lack of Security
Parties may be concerned about the security of exhibits, especially if they contain sensitive information, such as medical information.
Without the proper equipment, there may be differences between what one party and lawyer can see versus what another party or lawyer can see when viewing the exhibit.
Best Practices for Remote Exhibit Sharing
Fortunately, there are ways to decrease the likelihood that legal challenges may arise during remote exhibit sharing in virtual depositions. Here are some best practices to minimize potential problems:
Share Exhibits in Advance of the Deposition
One way to avoid possible issues with remote exhibits is to share them well in advance of the deposition. This can help lawyers determine if there are any objections to the information before the date of the deposition.
Send Remote Exhibits Securely
To address security concerns, you can send remote exhibits more securely, such as using a password-protected or encrypted file when you deliver them to opposing counsel and the court reporter.
You can stay organized during the process by adopting the “Tab” method. The American Bar Association explains that you can pre-mark documents you might wish to introduce as Tab __. During the proceedings, you write down a number to associate with each document. Then, when you are conducting the deposition, you can reference the particular tab. You can also mention the tab number during the deposition so that you can clearly link the testimony and the document.
Work with a Skilled Court Reporter
Another way to minimize potential problems during virtual depositions is to work with a skilled and experienced court reporter. The court reporters at Kusar Court Reporters stay up-to-date on the latest technologies and methods to accurately record transcripts.
Today’s available tools are more suitable for use in the legal industry than tools in the past. New technologies allow you to live stream depositions and share exhibits in real-time. With technological tools, lawyers can:
- Identify documents
- Enlarge exhibits
- Share documents in a virtual room
- Download and print exhibits, if desired
- Write or draw on the document
- Display exhibits in remote locations
- Store exhibits in folders
- Automatically suggest which exhibit appears next
Ask for Help
Consider including an exhibit technician to help during the deposition. While the lawyer asks questions to the deponent, the technician can manage the electronic exhibits. This person can become the expert on remote exhibit sharing in virtual depositions so the lawyer can focus on the testimony.
Contact Kusar Court Reporters for Help with Your Virtual Deposition
Kusar Court Reporters can assist you with every aspect of your virtual deposition. We can devise a strategy to assist with remote exhibit sharing in virtual depositions. Consider contacting us at (800) 282-3376 to learn more about our services and how we can help you with your virtual deposition.