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Video Depositions—Smile, You Are on Camera.

April 14, 2013

Posted in Litigation Strategies

Reading ContractWe at the Law Offices of Tony T. Liu are experienced business litigation and trial attorneys. Taking a defendant or client’s deposition is what we often do as part of trial preparation. For the last 10 years, we have engaged in hundreds, if not thousands, of depositions. Therefore, we are able to effectively guide our clients through the process.

1. A videotape of the deposition will show a lot more nuance than the deposition transcript.  

One of the advantages of a videotaped deposition is that it can pick up a lot of information about the witness, more than the deposition transcript can. For example, depending on the experience level, most court reporters are not able to transcribe non-spoken body language. On the other hand, the videotaped deposition can pick up more information, such as the witness’s demeanor, manner of speech, facial expression, body language, and emotions.

2. Videotaped testimony is more interesting and persuasive.

In certain circumstances, when the witness is unable to be found or subpoenaed to attend trial, attorneys are generally allowed to use the deposition transcript instead of live testimony. When that happens, the video display is certainly more interesting than the attorney reading the deposition transcript for the court records. Not only does the video version of the deposition testimony keep jurors’ attention, it is also more persuasive. Jurors can actually see what the witness looks like, how the testimony was given during the deposition, and the demeanor of the witness. By the same token, a videotaped deposition can also be a powerful impeachment, for the very reasons that make it persuasive.

3. Videotaped deposition allows a plaintiff to show an injury.

We have all heard the axiom, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Well, when a plaintiff’s injury is shown on the videotape, it may be worth ten thousand words. The video is simply able to show a witness’s injury, re-enactment, movement, action, or event a lot more effectively then a regular deposition transcript. Without video, if the attorney wants to show the plaintiff’s injury for the record, he or she will need to describe the injury based on observation, which may not be accurate. Furthermore, when the jurors are able to see the injury on video, instead of reading a description given by others, they are able to make an assessment based on their own observations, not the observation of someone else.

4. Videotaped deposition allows an attorney to control a difficult witness.

When a deposition is videotaped, it sets a tone of seriousness. Witnesses are less likely to be evasive or exhibit a negative demeanor when they know that what they are saying is being recorded. Yes, when the deposition is videotaped, the witness is more likely to be cooperative, and think twice before providing an untruthful or evasive response. Yes, the videotaped deposition will show that long pause and delay between the question and answer, which tends to have a negative impact on witness credibility. Not only that, even though it is only the witness being videotaped, audio will pick up all the sounds in the room. Thus, all the interaction between attorneys will be recorded. This means the attorney will tend to be more cooperative, object less, and yes, think twice before doing something to coach the witness.

Although the testimony given in the deposition is often in an informal setting such as the attorney’s office, the oath taken prior to the deposition has the same force and effect as it does in the courtroom trial. Thus, all witnesses should treat the deposition proceeding seriously. If you have any questions about the deposition itself, or what you should do during the deposition, call us today at (714) 415‑2007 to schedule an appointment, or contact us online via our secure contact request form.