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Depositions

Videotaping 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 questioning.

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 trail begins.

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 critical props.

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.

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