Video depositions can be very helpful to lawyers, prosecutors, and witnesses. They provide a great opportunity for all parties involved to communicate better during trials or in settlement negotiations. Depositions can save a lot of time and money, while still helping cases move forward. However, video depositions can only yield the desired results if done right. Here are five mistakes to avoid during a deposition.
1. Neglecting to Pay Attention to Body Language
Certain body movements and facial expressions can give the wrong impression during video depositions. Expressions such as frequent and exaggerated eye movements can mean the person is agitated by the speaker or is lying; placing the hands over the mouth when talking could mean someone is being deceptive; sitting with the arms crossed or head pointing down could mean the person is ashamed or threatened. Try to encourage deponents to be mindful of these negative body languages during a video deposition.
2. Making Jokes While on the Record
Whether you are a personal injury lawyer or a deponent, you need to take the video deposition seriously. Laughing or cracking jokes are common coping techniques likely to occur in stressful situations like depositions, but these actions can make the other parties involved think that you aren’t taking the matter seriously. Everyone should maintain a professional and pleasant demeanor throughout the process.
3. Not Delivering Exhibits on Time
Some depositions may require the parties involved to produce exhibits. If you plan to use exhibits, make sure they are in the deposition room on time. Failing to deliver exhibits in a timely manner will force you to reschedule the video deposition so that the witness can see them. This can affect not only the progress but also the chances of winning the case. Create enough time for the exhibits to be transported and delivered to the location.
4. Losing Control of Emotions
Video depositions, at times, cover matters that are sensitive. This may include a serious injury, loss of a loved one, or the splitting of a family. Such issues can be difficult to talk about; it can hurt if someone is trying to minimize the damage or shift the blame onto the victim. The rule of thumb here — for all parties involved — is to stay calm. Blowing up, crying dramatically, or storming out of the room will only ruin the process and complicate issues. Spend some time and practice how to speak and answer sensitive questions during the deposition. This makes it easier for deponents to respond in a cool and less emotional manner.
5. Failing to Hire the Right People
Hiring people who do not have any experience in handling video depositions is a recipe for failure. You need to get the right court reporting company trusts and video conferencing service provider for the event. Ensure the court reporting company has experienced professionals handling the video deposition transcription. Also, ensure the video conferencing service provider has experience in legal videography, especially in recording depositions. You should also choose the right venue for the event. The place should be well-lit, have the right equipment, and provide a conducive environment for all parties involved.