Video depositions are becoming more and more popular in courtrooms across the country. Video offers more insight than a typical text transcript, and gives legal professionals the opportunity to take nonverbal communication like body language and eye contact into consideration. Because the same standard regulations for traditional stenographic depositions apply to video depositions, attorneys should take care when preparing clients for the nuances of having testimonies recorded on video. Here are a few things to consider when preparing your client for a video deposition.
If your video testimony damages the case, the opposing party will attempt to use it in court. Any part of the video deposition may be shown to the jury at trial by your opponent. Therefore, the rules of preparing your client for a video deposition are the same as preparing them for trial testimony. If the opposing party is taking the time (and money) to record a video deposition, they take it very seriously – and you should too.
Record the questioning attorney. Many jurisdictions require video depositions be conducted so as to replicate the presentation of evidence in the courtroom. The jury will be able to observe both counsel and witness during examination and cross-examination. This can help keep the opposing attorney on his/her best behavior during the deposition.
Make sure your client is comfortable, but maintains a professional appearance. Your client may not feel comfortable in a suit, but should wear something presentable. Solid colors are usually best; ask your client to wear blue or white, and no patterns. If your client is wearing a jacket, have him or her leave it on during the video recording. Taking off the coat during a break in the deposition may make them look nervous on film. Remind your client to turn off cellphones and other electronic devices during the deposition.
Pay careful attention to your client’s facial expressions. Remind your client that the video will likely only show his or her face. Facial expressions may be exaggerated when the video is played back to the jury by opposing counsel. Your client should understand that simple movements of the eyes or mouth can be amplified on camera; remind him or her not to roll his or her eyes or make other facial expressions when asked a question. It is important to maintain a pleasant facial expression and to maintain eye contact with the questioning attorney during the deposition.
Don’t forget about body language! Remind your client to maintain positive body language during the video deposition. Sit up straight, place hands on the lap or table, maintain confident eye contact, and don’t fidget! For many, eye contact is a clear indicator of whether or not someone is testifying honestly. Advise your client not to look around the room while speaking or listening to the opposing counsel’s questions.
For more information on video depositions, contact the experts at In Focus Studios. Located near Durham, NC and Baltimore, MD, our experienced team of videographers can help you with all your legal video needs. Call today for help on your next video deposition.