The Benefits of Preparing Your Witness for Online Depositions
Online depositions grew exponentially in popularity with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Since online proceedings are likely to remain popular with attorneys, clients, and the courts, it is important that you prepare your witnesses for online depositions accordingly. Kusar Court Reporters can help you understand the importance of how online depositions can make a difference in your case, and the ways to best support your witnesses for your clients’ court proceedings. Call our office to visit with our experienced team at 800-282-3376 to learn more about how our experienced court reporters can help you today.
What Is a Deposition?
Depositions are a way to obtain information from witnesses so facts can be recorded for the official record and witnesses are prevented from changing their statements as the case progresses. Depositions are not an opportunity for witnesses to simply give their version of events. Rather, depositions are intended to preserve the facts of the case. With that in mind, attorneys need to prepare their witnesses accordingly, in order to ensure that their legal and financial rights remain protected.
Why Do Attorneys Need to Prepare Witnesses for Online Depositions?
The primary purpose of a deposition is to have a witness’s information of the case recorded so that it can serve as a reference point in the future. It is important to separate the facts of the case from the witness’s personal feelings in order to preserve their testimony accurately. It is important to review all legal issues at hand in the case as well as the role of the witness. Additionally, it is critical to determine whether the witness will provide direct knowledge of the case or provide testimony that allows for the admission of other evidence to be introduced in the case.
When witnesses are prepared for depositions, they can better understand how their testimony is going to impact the attorney’s position, the potential outcome of the case, and what to expect during cross examination.
Depositions are often pivotal to the outcome of a case. However, depositions can prove challenging and complex. Some of the more common difficulties associated with depositions include:
- Witnesses lacking confidence or having anxiety in giving their deposition
- Witnesses facing criminal charges
- Witnesses not having enough time to prepare for their deposition
- A witness being unwilling to provide testimony or to prepare for their deposition
- A case having multiple witnesses to depose
Preparing for these potential issues in advance of your online deposition will be essential. If attorneys can anticipate some of the issues that may arise, they can prepare accordingly. For example, if a witness has anxiety surrounding their deposition, preparing the witness emotionally could make all the difference in the outcome of the case.
How to Prepare Your Witness for an Online Deposition
There are many benefits that result from adequate preparation of witnesses. Online depositions pose unique challenges and a unique atmosphere. In order to adequately prepare a witness, attorneys must help a witness anticipate the opponent’s questions, help them understand their audience, ensure their video technology works properly, and take the time to practice their deposition responses.
The Opponent’s Case
Attorneys should be prepared to go over the important elements of their opponent’s case with their witness so they understand how their testimony in a deposition will be used. Some of the most important details to discuss with a witness prior to an online deposition include:
- What to expect from cross examination and how to prepare for potentially aggressive or adversarial questions
- The opponent’s core theory of the case to ensure that the witness is not caught by surprise regarding certain legal theories or questions from opposing counsel
- How the opponent’s attorney will potentially malign their character or criticize their actions
- The discussion of potentially contradictory evidence to what the witness will say or claim under oath
Although online depositions may not be seen by a jury, witnesses should understand that jurors will be analyzing their testimony to determine whether they are credible and believable. Opposing counsel may only provide the jury the most damaging portions of the online depositions. Preparing witnesses in advance can help them avoid some of the behaviors that may be considered questionable such as eye rolling, staring away from the camera, or uncomfortable movements or rocking, which could be off putting to jurors.
Online Technology and Depositions
Online depositions are a relatively new way of obtaining testimony from witnesses. As such, there are certain technological features that you may need to prep witnesses for in order to ensure the best quality testimony. Some of the most important details to go over with witnesses include:
- Obtain proper lighting
- Ensure the witness remains in the middle of the camera frame
- Remove distracting elements from the background
- Avoid using busy backgrounds that will distract from the witness
- The camera angle should be pointed slightly above the witnesses head
- Witnesses should be dressed professionally, as they would be if they were giving an in-person deposition
- Avoid smoking, eating, or drinking during the deposition
- Maintain an air of professionalism and respect during the deposition process
Kusar Court Reporters has the technology and expertise to help ensure that any of your remote or online depositions are handled in a professional and technologically seamless way.
Practice Online Depositions
Before giving an online deposition, it is important that the witness practice the deposition several times. By having multiple practice depositions, witnesses can perfect their background, ensure they are dressing appropriately for the deposition, and are prepared with the facts and information they want to get across throughout the deposition. Additionally, through practice, witnesses can gain confidence and become more comfortable in front of the camera as they give their testimony. Information is often more factual and less emotional when witnesses have the opportunity to retell the information multiple times.
When witnesses understand the technological logistics of their online disposition and they know in advance which questions they are likely to be asked, they can provide the valuable information needed to ensure justice occurs.
Contact an Experienced Court Reporting Agency for Help Today
Prepping your witnesses for online depositions will continue to be an important part of the court process for the foreseeable future. Ensure that you have an experienced court reporting agency on your side who will accurately and factually capture the record in your case. Contact Kusar’s dedicated team at 800-282-3376 to get started today.