Depositions is the most common and most recognized form of Legal Video
work done today. There are several reasons for videotaping a deposition.
The most common reasons are either that the witness will not be available
for trial or to preserve the testimony in the case of a sick or elderly
witness. Videotaping a deposition can also show the demeanor of a witness.
Seeing a witness's reaction to questioning and hearing the inflection
in their voice speaks volumes as to their credibility.
James Costa of VIDEO MOMENTOS and
La Jolla Legal Video and Multimedia has been trained and certified
by the American Guild of Court Videographers. Our company has all of
the professional video equipment needed, along with the proper training
on conducting a video deposition that will meet the legal standards
of the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure. In accordance with most state
rules, we use a time/date stamp throughout the video deposition. The
videotape operator will arrive on site one hour prior to the deposition
to set up and test the equipment.
When the deposition starts, the video operator
reads a statement into the record. This statement includes the video
operator's name, the date, time and place of the deposition, the caption
number, the name of the witness and on whose behalf the deposition is
being taken. These are as outlined in the Federal Rules for videotaping
depositions. The parties present then orally identify themselves for
the record and the court reporter swears in the witness. Any stipulations
with regard to objections are then placed on the record. Unless specified,
the camera remains on a head and shoulders shot of the witness and the
attorneys remain off camera.
Should an object such as a model, x-ray, photograph
or other object be marked as an exhibit, the camera may zoom in to show
a particular point of interest when directed. Also, every time you go
on and off the record, or change videotape, the video operator states
the date and time. The date and time are also continuously displayed
via a time-date generator across the bottom of the screen. This time/date
stamp can be used as an easy reference for playback, editing, or to
locate objections and colloquy. The witness and attorney's microphone
levels are controlled with an audio mixer and are monitored during the
entire deposition via headphones for the audio.
Uses of Videotaped Depositions:
If your witness is important enough to be
called to appear at trial but cannot attend, your next best choice may
be to videotape their deposition. A videotaped deposition allows the
judge and jury to see & hear how the deponent responds to the attorney's
An "Expert Witness" is an ideal
candidate for a videotaped deposition. Most experts do very well during
a videotape deposition. They generally have the right things to say,
they look intelligent, follow questions well, and are usually quite
predicable. An expert's weak point may come during cross-examination.
If an expert's testimony is to "fall apart," it is better
for this to happen during a deposition instead of during the trial.
This gives the attorney time to revise his or her strategy before the
Cost of an "Expert Witness" is another
consideration. Unlike a lay witness, experts get paid for their testimony.
Bringing in an expert from out of town may result in paying the expert
on a daily basis whether he or she is waiting to testify or on the stand,
plus travel time, and expenses. It is usually less expensive to videotape
the expert's testimony and play the deposition at the trial.
Some witnesses just look better on TV than
in person. Some witnesses are very nervous in court. They can't think
straight under pressure, they perspire, and just look worse than they
should. On the contrary, most deponents, in a videotape deposition,
quickly adjust to being videotaped and actually ignore the camera. The
comforts of a conference room allow the deponent to relax, think straight,
and appear more credible.
A videotape deposition of a foundational witness
in his or her own work environment gives even more credibility to the
witness. For example, a technician giving testimony in a lab, using
the tools of the job to demonstrate is just more impressive than having
the same technician giving testimony on the witness stand. Another example
may be having a doctor giving a video deposition in his office, using
x-rays or other props to explain their testimony. In this case, the
doctor is not confined to the witness chair, but instead can more specifically
describe a subject while the camera focuses on those hard-to-see, but
A videotape deposition at the scene of an
incident can be very effective. This allows the deponent to answer questions
while demonstrating or acting out what happened allowing the judge and
jury to see the evidence as though they were actually at the scene themselves
We also offer a two-camera video deposition.
If you're concerned about the possibility of the opposing attorney coaching
his or her deponent or antagonizing your deponent, we suggest adding
a second camera that will focus on the opposing attorney. This second
camera will document the behavior of the opposing attorney and may become
an important tool in having testimony impeached. This second camera
is also effective in preventing illegal "signaling" by the
opposing attorney to the deponent.
All Videotaped depositions include the following
paperwork in keeping with the policies set forth in the Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure:
Exhibits & Events Log:
We track all questioning attorneys and the
introduction of exhibits. These will be indexed by time that is stamped
on the screen. This allows those who are reviewing the deposition to
quickly find relevant testimony that occurred allowing a judge to rule
of the admissibility of that evidence easily.
Certificate of Authenticity:
In order to assure that all footage provided
to council is the complete, unaltered testimony of the deponent, we
include a Certificate of Authenticity with all videotaped depositions
as our guarantee to you that the original footage of the deposition
remains unchanged should it ever be challenged and need to be presented
in court. We can, however, edit a presentation tape from the original
video footage to be shown in court. This tape will include all footage
deemed admissible by the judge.