If you have not yet used video in your legal depositions, it’s time to consider the many benefits that you can derive from this technology.
There is no doubt that we live in a video world. Video cameras are embedded everywhere from the battlefield to the football field. The legal field is no exception. Video depositions can be one of the technology tools in any attorney’s toolbox. There are several advantages to using video in depositions. Considering each one of the following benefits will allow you to ensure you are taking full advantage of all the ways video depositions can be a benefit to you and your client.
1. Demonstrate a witness’ body language
Quite simply, legal video depositions assist attorneys in presenting a more compelling case. If you have a deposition transcript read into the record at trial, you are failing to show the jury the witness’ spontaneous reactions, emotional state and body language. You are losing the pregnant pauses, nervous fidgeting and angry glares. You are losing the opportunity to show the witness’ full demeanor when testifying. This may become important to a jury or in preparing your team for trial.
2. Hold the jury’s attention
Video depositions are much more likely to hold the jury’s attention. As you are presenting evidence, the last thing you want to see is a juror who has clearly lost interest and is not focused. In this age of television and YouTube, we are all conditioned to pay attention to a video screen for long stretches of time. Jurors will pay attention much longer to a deposition video than they will listen to a transcript being read into the record.
3. Bring a witness to trial who cannot attend in person
A video deposition can be used in the instance where a key witness will not be able to attend the trial. This situation could be due to the distance the witness may have to travel. It can also be due to physical or medial reasons that prevent the witness from attending. Video equipment can be brought to the witness who is unable to attend. In the case of an ill witness, video depositions can be set up in a hospital or nursing home if necessary. Using video in this way allows all parties to fully participate in a deposition without needing to be in the same physical location.
4. Save costly expert witness fees and travel expenses
Often a doctor or other highly qualified and respected witness may be used to offer an expert opinion. The cost of using their services can be rather high, especially if the witness has to travel and remain at the trial for several days. Having their testimony on video will give you the ability to use their words any time during the proceedings and to be repeated, if necessary, during your closing arguments. The cost savings in this situation can be enormous.
5. View of physical evidence
Video allows a judge and jury to view a witness handling an object of evidence. If you use a transcript of a deposition and read it into the record at trial, the members of the jury, as well as the judge, will not be able to view the witness handling the object in the same manner and from the same angle. If the deponent’s handling of the object is critical, then capturing the activity on video is one way to ensure that everyone sees the same behaviors.
6. Preparing for trial
Outside of the courtroom, video depositions can also be a valuable tool for reference when considering whether to use particular witnesses at trial and when preparing for the direct or cross-examination of those witnesses. By using video at depositions, you will be able to review the video and make assessments during your preparation when you are planning and fine-tuning your trial presentation.
7. Impeaching a witness
Video deposition testimony may be used to impeach a witness if they change their testimony at trial. This is a common use of deposition video in court. Seeing the witness make an obviously different statement on the video than what they said in court has a much greater impact than simply reading written transcript testimony.
Using video strategically in your depositions can increase your effectiveness at trial and give you and your client a better result. If you decide to use video, contact your court reporter to help you set up the details. Ask what they will require in order to conduct a video deposition. With a little planning, you can strategically use video in your depositions and get the maximum benefit from this technology.
For more information on legal technologies, download this free report: “5 Technologies Every Attorney Must Have.”