What we have noticed in our office is that videographer bookings are up as more and more attorneys are using videotaped depositions in trial. I recently asked our clients for some feedback on why they are choosing to use video more. Hands down they all agree that it is effective at trial. Here are the highlights of those conversations:
How a witness appears, behaves, moves around, and speaks can tell a story. Many attorneys are choosing to videotape all key witnesses for this reason. Sometimes reading a transcript doesn’t reveal clearly what is happening at a deposition, and it does not reveal the tone at which an answer was given. Does the written word capture sarcasm, attitude, or a general arrogance? Does the transcript reflect how long it takes a witness to answer? Would replaying this to a jury change their opinion about a witness’ truth and veracity? All these things play into an attorney’s decision to use a video clip at trial.
Being in this industry and videotaping depositions the last few years, I have had a front row seat to see how deponents react to a camera in front of them. Some deponents are intimidated by the video camera in the room and some do not even acknowledge it. There could be a sense of pressure with a video camera and the red “record” light glaring only a few feet away. This can affect their nerves and how well they testify that day and will also give insight to what an attorney can expect at trial.
Several clients mentioned using the videotape of an expert’s testimony at trial versus paying an expert to be available and to testify at trial. It does not always work out but can be a great cost-saver.
Case Review and Trial Preparation
I worked with a client the other day who ordered four copies of the synched video to be sent to him. I asked him why, and he told me this was a pivotal witness and he needed to send it out to others involved in the case so they could review what had transpired that day. After all, it would all be there: the videotape and the transcript. It also would be easily searchable.
In most cases, the videotape is synchronized to the reporter’s transcript. Clips can easily be made by the attorney, their staff, or by a trusted videographer prior to trial. Clips are only short highlights of the testimony that is separated out into its own separate video file. Having the ability to show the jury clips from depositions can be a true advantage. It can quickly show the jury key facts about the case or how credible a witness is or isn’t. Did they say something else during the deposition? Would sharing this clip with the jury change the outcome?
Although we thought that with the advent of videoconferencing that travel in the legal community would go down, it seems like our clients are traveling more than ever. But what should the busy legal professional do who needs to set up a deposition out of town? How do you find the best court reporter and firm to handle that important deposition?
Well, most of us start by typing in some keywords in Google and see what comes up. In any search I make on Google, I always avoid the paid ads at the top of the list. Do those firms that advertise even have office space there or have full-time reliable court reporters available? I can tell you that most the firms that come up on the paid ads in the Central Valley of California (Fresno, Bakersfield, and Visalia) do not even have a local presence in the area. Is that true in all areas? I am not sure, but is it worth the gamble? After all, there is a possibility you may have to pay more if the firm does not have a local presence in the area.
Now what? I know when I travel I use a trusted friend and resource to book my travel. I do not rely on Expedia or Travelocity because I know what he offers is personalized service. He knows what my husband and I like when we travel and he puts a package together for us that meets our needs. He has booked some vacations for me overseas and there has never been a glitch. He has taken care of everything. The reason for this is that he is a part of a networking group, a group of like-minded travel agents that specialize in personalized service.
I would say that instead of relying on Google, you turn to your local court reporting firm for advice. For instance, Wood & Randall is part of a large network of locally owned court reporting firms with offices and connections all over the country. After years of traveling to national, state, and vendor meetings, our network is vast and covers all the states. We even have court reporting friends in Canada, Europe, and Asia.
If you are getting ready to book that deposition, you may want to think about a few things. Do you need a videographer or an interpreter? Of course, that is easily booked with this one phone call. Their networking partner will be happy to help with that and will make their resources available for this deposition.
Another question is where do you want the deposition held. For instance, Chicago is a very big city. Where in Chicago? Do you want the deposition at a court reporter’s office or as close as possible to the airport or hotel where you plan to stay? Do you need the deposition to be held in a room with videoconference capabilities because one of the attorneys in the case is not planning to travel and needs to attend? Does the witness prefer to be close to their home or business? This is another area where a good networking resource is invaluable. With a little planning and a reliable partner, your local court reporting firm, these bookings can be fast and easy. We have another trip coming up in the fall, and I am so glad that I do not have to Google every location and try to decide where to stay and how to get there. I make one phone call and know I am in trusted hands. Isn’t that how it should be when you travel on a deposition as well?
STAR, a Stenograph users group which represents Stenograph, Technology, Agencies, and Reporters, held STARCON16 last week in Scottsdale, Arizona. The conference was chaired by Wood & Randall President Christine Randall and Rosalie Kramm of Kramm & Associates. One track of sessions focused on Case CATalyst training while the other track offered a myriad of subject matters including Outlook tips and tricks, technological advancements in the deposition setting, hiring techniques, and an upbeat seminar on how to change a work environment using gratitude.
Linda is shown here with NCRA President Tiva Wood and STAR Past President Shelly Hunter.