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Tips on Remote Video Depositions

As life has been upended by COVID-19, we are quickly adapting to an intensified “on-line” world. Among other uncertainties, we have been thrown into a swirl of technological challenges surrounding the practice of law. To ease the pain, NJL litigator, John Wackman has recently spent three days in a remote deposition and shares some tips below about his experience.

  • The court reporter and videographer, like everyone, are in separate locations. All parties agreed at the outset that the court reporter could swear the witness in remotely with an invitation for any of the attorneys to object on the record.
  • A telephone/zoom connection was set up by the court reporting service who asked that not everyone (about 20 participants) be on the video at once, because they were concerned about the technology being overloaded. It appeared that about half of the attendees were on video and half on the phone. There were no complaints from anyone that they had not been able to get into the deposition or had been inadvertently cut off.
  • Exhibits were shown to the witness on the screen, with the promise to be sent to the court reporter for inclusion with the transcript. The exhibits were described in detail and verbally marked (“this will be Defendants’ exhibit 1”) and were formally marked by the court reporter upon receipt. One attorney switched his screen to a PowerPoint with a picture of something he wanted the witness to look at, along with a couple of other slides, all of which became separate exhibits. There was no agreement on this process in advance, which resulted in a bit of back and forth between plaintiff’s attorney and the defense attorney doing the questioning. A suggestion would be to agree to the exhibit process in advance.
  • Best practice is to mute your phone when not speaking. On occasion, one of the attendees forgot to mute their phone following a break, but we didn’t hear anyone yelling at their kids.

If anyone has any questions about the above, please don’t hesitate to contact John Wackman. While a little odd (like most things these days), the deposition was fairly uneventful from a process perspective.

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