Recording Remote Depositions: What to Know as a Court Reporter

person's hand typing on a keyboard

Recording Remote Depositions: What to Know as a Court Reporter

person's hand typing on a keyboard

In April 2020, the world stood still, but the work of the courts had to continue. Enter in the remote deposition.

As depositions moved remote, many believed that recording is an equal substitute for videography. Yet, there is a difference between hitting the record button and having a videographer present.

If you are a court reporter, you may be wondering if the court will admit a deposition you recorded. The answer is, it depends.

Keep reading to learn more about the admissibility of recording remote depositions.

Court Reporter Transcripts Versus Video Recordings

A recorded deposition is not an equal or a replacement of a certified court reporter’s transcript.

Recently, in Alcorn v. City of Chicago (2020), Judge Harjani ruled that Plaintiff could not use recorded testimony in her case. Plaintiff thought that the symmetries of the certified transcript proved the veracity of the recording.

Yet, pairing a certified transcript with a zoom recording does not certify the recording.

Several factors affect admissibility. One issue is that no one annotates the video and states start and end times for the record.

But, the most critical issue that Judge Harjani underlined was that there was no videographer present.

Why Does a Video Recording Need to Be Certified?

Court reporters ensure the integrity of the transcribed testimony. Competing counsels would each present their versions of the deposition without a certified court reporter. As a result, it would be impossible for the judge or jury to find the truth.

Likewise, a videographer certifies the accuracy of a video recording. Without certification, Judge Harjani argues, each side could present their own contradictory recordings.

How Is a Recording Certified?

Videographers do much work to ensure that the recordings they take are admissible in court. There are over sixty standards that a videographer must meet for a recording to be permitted.

The videographer has to label each recording with the date, the run time, the existence of protected material, and much more. They also have to maintain a chronological log of recorded depositions and document the chain of custody.

These steps are there to ensure the deposition was recorded with fairness and transparency.

It’s easy to see why the court reporter in Acorn v. Chicago would not certify the recording without a videographer present.

Remote Depositions Are Here to Stay

Virtual depositions emerged out of necessity during the pandemic, but it appears they are here to stay. Zoom depositions have proved helpful when it is impossible to have all parties meet in the same country, let alone in the same room.

As a court reporter, you must remember that courts will not accept all recorded remote depositions.

The only way to ensure that your recording is admissible is to have a certified videographer present. Hiring professionals ensure that your recorded deposition goes effortlessly, even when it’s time for the dreaded breakout room.

We at Depo International offer expert legal videography services. Contact us to schedule your recorded remote deposition.

Tips to Ensure You are Ready for Remote Depositions

women on a video conference

Tips to Ensure You are Ready for Remote Depositions

women on a video conference

COVID-19 has completely altered the way depositions function. In some ways, that has been good; remote depositions make it easier (in theory) to get everyone needed together, thanks to videoconferencing. Other aspects of the “new normal,” however, have made witness preparation more challenging.

To help ensure that your witness(es) is ready for depositions or that your depositions go off without a hitch, follow this advice.

Preparation

Test the Technology: Try out all the equipment before things start. Test each component, including feeds located externally to your office (like a witness’ house.) While technical glitches will happen, you want to make sure that your equipment is as reliable as possible.

Test the Witness: Go through a remote dry run with the witness, especially if they are located off-site. This should be done in addition to any other witness prep you need to do and completed a few days before the actual deposition.

Learn the Equipment: You should also familiarize yourself with the deposition equipment. This is so you can easily navigate the equipment during the deposition.

Know the Rules: Go over your state’s remote deposition rules. These can vary from state to state, so knowing your state’s rules is critical to making sure your deposition is lawful.

During

One challenge is getting witnesses comfortable to speaking into a microphone and looking into a camera, with no feedback from other participants.

Be Present: If the deposition is being done in your conference room, sit across from the witness so that you can reassure them as well as assess their reactions to different inquiries. If the witness is doing the deposition from home, go to their physical location and sit next to them.

Contingencies: Before starting, go over with the other party all that is supposed to happen in the deposition. Include the procedure if interference with the electronics or the deposition occurs or if any parties are cut off.

Technical Instructions: Follow any court instructions to the letter regarding labels, statements, etc. Do a spot check with all parties connected shortly before the deposition; this will help avoid any issues once the deposition is supposed to start.

Deposition Recordings: Make sure that the deposition is recorded and that you get a copy of the recording from all parties that record it. Make getting a recording from the opposing counsel part of the deposition agreement if possible.

Close Everything: Everyone on your side should only have the apps or software used to conduct the deposition open on any computers attached to the videoconferencing equipment.

When Questioning

Look directly into the camera when addressing the other side. If talking to a camera and microphone are disconcerting, have someone sit opposite you as if you are talking to them.

Other Tips

Here are some random tips that will help your deposition succeed.

  • Mute your microphone when you are not speaking. Place your microphone as close to the speaker as possible. 
  • Avoid shuffling papers or whispering.
  • Do not interrupt the other side and stop talking when you are interrupted. Once order is restored, reiterate your point for the record.
  • Go over spellings with the court reporter before everyone hangs up.
  • Remote depositions make things trickier, but not impossible. 

These general guidelines will help you conduct your deposition in the most effective manner possible.