Videotaping depositions captures the nonverbal expressions that are so much a part of true communication. A witness’s smiles,
grimaces or nervous twitching are all caught on camera and can totally change the interpretation of what is being said. Television,
YouTube, and the DVD have made us a visual society. Merely reading testimony does not impact a jury or opposing counsel like
video does. Video depositions are more memorable and authoritative.
Certainly, video depositions are valuable when a witness’s testimony would otherwise be unavailable for trial.
They can also reduce the high cost of expert testimony by eliminating travel costs and time.
Video depositions can assist in evaluating a witness’s demeanor and believability. Use video feedback to prepare a witness for trial testimony. Video clearly shows exhibits such as x-rays, photos, graphs, models, equipment, etc. Finally, a video clip can dramatically impeach a witness at trial. Or it can be used to catch a reaction from one witness when showing testimony (perhaps countering) from another witness in the same case.
Preparing a Witness for a Video Deposition
A jury’s first impression of a witness is critical in determining how that witness’s testimony will be interpreted and whether it will be believed. A witness should be dressed professionally to maximize credibility. Avoid wearing red, solid white or busy patterns. Jewelry, t-shirts with messages and anything with logos can be divisive. The witness will need to wear a clip-on microphone, so it is best to have a collar, tie or lapel on which to place it.
The demeanor of the witness is also important in conveying a positive message to the jury. It is important for the subject to remain relaxed and composed during the video deposition. Excessive shifting from side to side, or rocking in a chair, makes the subject appear nervous and can effect the perceived credibility of the witness. A stationary chair is best.
It is recommended that the subject look directly into the camera lens as much as possible while testifying. This will give the jurors the feeling that they are making eye contact when the video is played at trial. This is best accomplished by seating counsel away from the witness and closer to the camera.
The witness should be careful not to cover the clip-on microphone with their hands or papers. All participants should power off cell phones, not just put them on silent mode as sending or receiving audio or text messages will create audible noise interference on the recorded audio. Take care not to place laptops, cups, binders and other objects in the line of sight of the video camera.
An experienced legal video production and post-production agency will help to make sure that the video deposition will be done professionally.
Technology has made it easier than ever to allow attorneys and witnesses in widespread locations to take part in depositions without traveling. Whether recorded or not, video conferences are convenient and avoid the cost and business interruption of traveling.
In addition to using a dedicated video conference facility, there are a number of other less expensive means of conducting legal depositions by video conference now. In many cases, all that is required is a computer with a webcam, microphone, speakers and a connection to the internet. The video and audio are fed through a proprietary network that can be accessed with an internet login. Participants in multiple locations can interact. Newer technology has greatly improved the quality and security of these services.