What is a deposition To better understand what a deposition is, what goes on in one, and how to prepare generally you may refer to my article on what you need to know before being deposed.

In short a deposition is an interview about what you of the allegations in the lawsuit. The opposing side’s attorney asks you as the deponent questions and you answer them unless your attorney instructs you otherwise. Depositions in Florida are transcribed by a court reporter and can also be recorded on video with prior notice.

Thus, we have always had the ability to record a deposition by video but now all parties involved can appear by video from separate locations and the court reporter can verify the identity of the witness and swear the witness remotely. How does a remote video deposition differ from video depositions of the past In the past all parties involved in a deposition would be in the same room. If the deposition was recorded on video there would be a separate videographer for that and the video could later be synchronized with the transcribed transcript or simply used by itself. The reason why prior notice of the video recording had to be provided was to allow the deponent to dress appropriately as if he or she were in the courtroom.

Video depositions cost more than a non-video deposition because of the videographer costs. There are different theories and strategies on when to use a video deposition but most commonly they have been used where a key witness, such as an expert, will not be available to travel to the trial and it may be more impactful for a jury to see the witness on a large screen in the courtroom. Video also captures body language, which is a component in weighing the believability of any witness.

The pandemic has allowed all depositions to be taken through the medium of video. These are not video depositions in the traditional sense because they are not necessarily recorded. These are remote video depositions using software like Zoom or another provider.

Taking depositions by remote video is a preventative measure so that the parties to the deposition are not in close quarters for several hours which may increase the risk of contracting the virus. This change has made it very convenient for parties to participate in depositions and largely eliminated the travel costs that attorneys commonly charged for attending depositions. How should you prepare for a remote video deposition First it is important to be in a location where you will have stable internet access free from background noise and interruptions. Although the deposition may not be recorded on the video it is still being transcribed by a court reporter. To have an accurate record of what you say the court reporter needs to be able to hear and see you.

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At the start of the remote video deposition the court reporter must verify your identity in order to administer you an oath to tell the truth. This process is called swearing in the witness. Therefore it is essential to have some form of official identification at the ready. A driver’s license, passport, or other government issued identification will suffice. In that manner the court reporter can verify that you are who you say you are.

A stable internet access is critically important as well. If your internet access is unstable your transmission may be interrupted or dropped. This can lead to the court reporter not hearing your full answer and not transcribing an accurate response. On one hand the attorney asking the questions wants to obtain certain information but you as the answering party also want to ensure that your answers are properly and fully recorded.

An unstable internet connection would be like getting up and walking out of the room during your answer which would be unfair to you as your full answer would not be heard or transcribed. Also with an unstable internet connection you may not hear the full question or hear it clearly leading to you answering a different question. This may make you later look evasive or uninformed about the topic. In other words, it will make you appear less credible.

It is also advisable and wise to verify the software you are using in advance of the deposition. If you are using Zoom, for example, the time to find out that you have not registered is not the beginning of the deposition when you try to connect to it. Information about how to attend and access the remote video deposition is provided in advance to all parties. It is wise to verify your registration for the software and ability to use it well in advance. If any issues arise they can easily be addressed at that point instead of at the start of the deposition.

By Haadi