Video Deposition: Preparation Tips and Benefits (In-Depth Guide)


Video Deposition: Preparation Tips and Benefits (In-Depth Guide)
Beth Worthy

Beth Worthy

12/7/2022

A video deposition isn’t a new concept to any experienced attorney. However, the rise of remote depositions during the pandemic led to an increase in the use of recorded video testimony in legal matters. According to a report, U.S. attorneys conducted 90% of their depositions remotely during the pandemic.

This automatically led to an increase in video transcription services to present recorded testimony in a legally-acceptable format. While COVID-19, lockdowns, and travel restrictions are mostly behind us, remote video depositions are still being used by lawyers due to preference.

About 83% of lawyers expect that a minimum of one party in every case will continue using them. That’s because video depositions remain a cost-effective technique to capture expert witness testimony and can influence the outcome of any court or judicial proceedings in an important way.

However, how can you effectively leverage video depositions as the deposing attorney? You have to adequately prepare and coordinate the process with all parties involved, including your videographer, witness, and even provider of deposition transcription services. 

What Is a Video Deposition? 

A video deposition is a process of capturing sworn verbal and visual testimony by a witness for use in a legal matter. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then video testimony is a much more compelling way to add credibility to your case and grab your audience’s attention in court.

The idea is to capture every moment in your interaction with the deponent, not just words. With legal transcription services, you can then synchronize the recorded testimony with a high-quality transcript to build your strategic advantage in a case. 

How Does a Video Deposition Work? Videotaping and Transcribing Legal Testimony

The video deposition process involves multiple key parties, starting with you, the deposing attorney, and the expert witness. At the very least, a videographer and court reporter or provider of deposition transcription services will be involved.

Your respective roles in a remote or in-person deposition are as follows:

  • Deposing attorney: Besides preparing and deposing the witness, you will coordinate the entire process with all the other parties to record a compelling testimony.
  • Expert witness: The deponent provides the pretrial information or testimony you hope to use later in court. 
  • Videographer: Your videography provider will not only record and process the video but also work closely with you in setting up an ideal deposition recording environment.
  • Court reporter or transcription services: You can hire either party to transcribe the recorded testimony. 

You can then play your video deposition to the jury.

Why Is a Video Deposition Worth the Investment?

You know the saying “It’s not what you say but how you say it”? Video depositions have proved their enormous value for legal matters due to their ability to effectively convey the tone in a deponent’s statements. 

Here’s a look at the strategic advantages a video deposition can provide to attorneys and juries in a court matter:

1. A Video Deposition Captures a Broader Range of Expressions   

In other words, a video deposition conveys more information beyond the words that the witness said. As the deponent answers your questions (or not), their mannerisms, facial expressions, and other subtle signals are on record, too.

To get this complete picture of the witness’s demeanor and put their statements into a more accurate context, you need more than just a written transcript. Video deposition transcription provides the best of both worlds. You get a visual record as well as a transcript you can quickly reference at any time, before, during, and after court proceedings.   

2. A Video Deposition Can Help the Jury Correctly Interpret Testimony 

How accurately the jury interprets the witness’ words can make or break your case. Again, this is about capturing the witness’ micro-expressions, voice tone, and other visual mannerisms that the jury cannot see on a deposition transcript alone.  

Keep in mind that any other person reading the transcript aloud will have a tone or body language of their own. Their mannerisms could lead to misinterpretation and may not be an accurate representation of the witness’ actual behavior during the deposition.

You should use a video deposition if you want the jury to see the witness for what you saw when deposing them.   

3. A Video Deposition Helps to Engage and Prolong the Jury’s Attention 

When it comes to capturing a moment, video wields unrivaled power. It’s the most engaging medium to maintain an audience’s attention for longer, including in court.

Generating a transcript that you, your team, or jurors can reference shouldn’t be a problem with video deposition transcription. What’s important is that you have videotaped expert testimony to play in court and keep the jury interested and attentive throughout the trial.   

4. A Video Deposition Makes it Easier to Impeach a Witness

As a litigator, chances are you have a few points to use against the opposing counsel’s witness through impeachment. A video deposition can strengthen this strategy in a case where you intend to question the credibility of a witness before a jury. 

You may find evidence of contradictory or dishonest statements in the witness’ overall posture, momentary facial expressions, or hesitation to answer straightforward questions–all caught on camera. Most of these captured scenarios need no further explanation as the jurors can see it on video and decide for themselves whether or not to trust the witness.  

5. A Video Deposition Can Save Your Team Time and Money

Litigation is often a collaborative process that involves close coordination with multiple consultants and experts. Travel expenses can quickly build up if people have to fly to your office to record a deposition. 

Why not depose some witnesses virtually whenever possible? This also works for any expert legal consultants you want to look at the testimony. You can send them a copy of the video deposition if they can’t participate in person.    

This way, you not only save money and time but also involve as many participants as needed in building a solid case. 

6. A Video Deposition Preserves Witness Testimony

A video deposition can be useful when a witness is unable to testify in person in court. You know there are many unexpected circumstances that could make this necessary, such as the deponent’s untimely death or hospitalization. If the court allows it, you may present the recorded testimony with a powerful impact on the outcome of the case.  

Practical Tips to Prepare a Compelling Video Deposition 

Once you’ve videotaped a testimony, there’s only so much deposition transcription services can do to get you a reliable legal transcript. Extensive preparations involving the attorney, deponent, and videographer are necessary if you want to produce a highly persuasive piece of evidence in court.  

Video Deposition Preparation Tips for an Attorney:

  • Review applicable rules of evidence in your jurisdiction: Of course, discovery is the main agenda here, but does your jurisdiction allow playing video depositions at trial? In some states, you may not present evidence this way in court if the witness can testify in person. Videotaped testimony can still help strengthen your arguments for upcoming out-of-court negotiations.
  • Define your product specifications: Besides transcribing the testimony, what else do you need from the transcription services? Perhaps you’ll be performing a deposition in a foreign language and need the deposition translated and transcribed in English? Or maybe you want the video added chapter headings and synchronized with the transcript. Figure out these requirements at the outset as they will impact how you can present and reference your video deposition in the future. 
  • Pick an ideal deposition venue: The right location should be quiet, private, and spacious to accommodate all participants and video recording equipment. It can be in your office or a rented conference room, just be sure it’s ideal for this type of formal proceedings. Also, inform and agree on the venue with all participants, including the witness’ attorney. 
  • Determine the tech platform: If you’re planning on holding a virtual deposition, make sure to review and test your preferred platform for key features. Important functions include video recording, downloading, microphone, and screen-sharing. If you’re recording it in person, discuss your tech preferences with your videography company.

Video Deposition Preparation Tips for Your Videographer:

The point of involving your videographer in deposition preparations is to make sure the technical set-up is perfect for recording the formal session and capturing any exhibits. This is important for getting your point across later in court. 

Include these considerations in discussions with your videographer:

  • Correct camera positioning, angle, zooming, etc. so that all exhibits, including small objects or paper documents, are clearly captured with all the details.
  • Image quality and potential glare, especially if there are exhibits with shiny surfaces, such as metallic objects or laminated documents.
  • Microphone placement to avoid recording noise, such as from the witness handling papers used in the video deposition.
  • Let the videographer assess the deposition venue for good lighting and acoustics (proper lighting and minimizing ambient noise or audio interference are important for recording high-quality audio and video).
  • In case of a virtual deposition, discuss with the videographer how to record it, download the recording, add a transcript, or integrate it with video deposition transcription services

Video Deposition Preparation Tips for the Expert Witness

You want your video deposition witness comfortable with your line of questioning, honest with their answers, and composed in front of the camera. Preparing them adequately for this and clarifying some ground rules will determine how their testimony eventually plays out before a jury. 

Video deposition witness prep involves:

  • Remind them why telling the truth is most important–they’re giving sworn evidence for use in court or any other legal proceeding.
  • Share with the witness all case documents they should review in preparation for their deposition.
  • Make sure they’re familiar and comfortable with the recording technology, including signing up and communicating through platforms like Zoom if it’s a remote video deposition.
  • Emphasize that you need the witness’ full attention during the deposition (so their phone and any other unnecessary devices should be off).
  • To avoid talk-overs, ask them to always wait until you’ve finished asking a question before answering.
  • The witness should speak clearly and seek clarification before answering a question they do not understand.
  • Prepare the witness to interact with and reference exhibits properly while on record.

Common Video Deposition Questions to Ask the Witness

Deposition questions vary widely by case. However, there are common introductory inquiries just to be sure the witness is well set up for the formal session. 

Here are some standard examples:

  • Do you understand that you are testifying under oath?
  • Do you understand that your answers here have the same weight in law as at a trial before a judge and jury?
  • Nothing will distract you from giving me your full attention?
  • Have you discussed this case with anyone other than your counsel?
  • Have you looked at any documents pertaining to this case? Which ones?
  • Did you speak with the other side’s counsel before this deposition? 

You can learn more about deposition questions here. It will help you perfectly prepare for your deposition.

Key Takeaway

Regular court proceedings have resumed, but video depositions are here to stay. You never know which part of a deposition will sway a jury’s mind in your favor and win your case. This is why extensive preparations are necessary during video deposition, where there’s a possibility of the jury missing out on some of your statements.

If you need a deposition transcription service to transcribe your video deposition recording for future use, we can help. At GMR Transcription, we provide video deposition transcription services that are top-notch with the help of our US-based transcriptionists. We are always thorough, and because we rely on human transcribers, we guarantee up to 99% accurate transcripts for your legal deposition.

Furthermore, our legal transcriptionists come with complete background checks and are ready to sign any confidentiality agreement to protect the integrity of your firm. Whether you need the transcript in a custom format or want it delivered within 24 to 48 hours, we can fulfill all your requests. Register today to get started!

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Beth Worthy

Beth Worthy

Beth Worthy is the President of GMR Transcription Services, Inc an Orange County, California based company that has been providing accurate and affordable transcription services since 2004. She has enjoyed success at GMR for almost ten years now and has helped the company grow. Within two years of Beth managing GMR Transcription, it had doubled in sales and was named one of the OC Business Journal’s fastest-growing private companies. Outside of work, she likes spending time with her husband and two kids.