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.
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.
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.
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.
Here are some random tips that will help your deposition succeed.
These general guidelines will help you conduct your deposition in the most effective manner possible.