If you have not previously been involved in a lawsuit, you may ask yourself “what is a deposition?” A deposition is a process by which attorneys gather information for a case. The deponent (witness) being questioned may be providing information through their account of events, their testimony as an expert, etc. The deponent is placed under oath by a court reporter and asked a series of questions by the “taking” attorney. These depositions are also often recorded by a videographer, so that certain video clips may be played to the jury at the time of trial.
The deponent is sent a notice of deposition, usually by opposing counsel, to appear in person at a certain time and date for the examination. The attorney who “noticed” the witness is the taking attorney. Once the witness has been sworn in, the taking attorney usually gives a quick summary of what a deposition is and the importance of giving verbal responses rather than non-verbal (a shake or nod of the head, hand gestures and the like) for a clear record. Generally, the attorney also emphasizes that the deponent is under oath just like in court and the importance of answering truthfully to the best of the deponent’s ability.
Prior to COVID-19, these depositions would normally be taken “in person” in a conference room at an attorney’s office, where the attorneys, witnesses, court reporters and videographers would all be physically present together in the same room. Those days are over, at least for the near future. Depositions are still being conducted, however they are being performed remotely with virtually the same process, but instead of being “in person,” everyone is together on the same computer screen. By doing the deposition remotely, it saves everyone travel time and expenses. It will ultimately cut down on litigation costs for the parties significantly.
The noticing attorney sends a notice to the deponent with a date and time to appear, however with the instructions that the deposition will be performed via Zoom or another similar video platform. The notice will give certain instructions to the deponent as to how to download the Zoom app and other simple instructions to make the process easier. Once the deposition begins, the deponent is sworn in and the court reporter transcribes the deposition just as they are in the same room. When the deposition is complete, the court reporter will prepare the same physical deposition transcript, which will be lodged at the time of trial.
We are in a new world and we must all embrace technology to keep our cases moving forward despite our surroundings. Video depositions are convenient and save time and money. I believe that they are here to stay, even after the pandemic.
You may contact us for a free consultation at:
Hicks Law Firm, 245 Fischer Ave.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626