When we consider video depositions, we tend to think of them as a convenience, or a layer of protection for a witness. Today, let’s talk about how you can use video depositions to litigate your case.
- Hold attention
Let’s face it: depositions can be indescribably dull to listen to. Even jurors (and judges) with the best of intentions may find their attention wandering, and as an attorney it’s demoralizing to look up and realize you’ve lost your audience. People are much more likely to pay attention when they have a video to watch.
If you video witness testimony and watch it yourself, you’re bound to see some behaviors that could be liabilities at trial. Those details will help you prep your witness more thoroughly, and increase the quality of his or her testimony.
- Prepare a witness
Sometimes you can talk yourself blue, and your witness just can’t connect with your feedback. Sit your witness down in front of a video recording of his or her testimony, and you’ll find your concerns are much more visible to them.
- Cut the nonsense
The truth is, people sometimes behave badly in depositions. It wastes your time and energy, and it’s incredibly frustrating, because you know that witness is going to be much more polished and courteous on the witness stand. When you video depositions, all of those behaviors are captured, and can be used at court. So, opposing counsel will have to be diligent about making sure the witness behaves courteously during the deposition.
- Demonstrate body language
The one thing written records of a deposition can’t capture may be the most important thing of all: the demeanor of the witness. Video depositions are incredibly useful, whether they illuminate the genuine fear of a victim, or the shifty or unapologetic behavior of a perpetrator. Jurors can also see the defendant handle evidence in a less public (and possibly less guarded) moment. All in all, video depositions simply communicate more thorough and more subjective information than written transcripts.
- Catch a lie
Video depositions are much more effective when it comes to impeaching a witness—again, because video is so much more visceral to viewers. When you can show footage of a very different answer to the same question, it creates a “gotcha” moment that gets a reaction from juries.
- Produce a witness
Distant or physically unwell witnesses can still testify in court using video. This is particularly valuable when a person’s injuries or ill health are specifically related to the case at hand.
- Save money and time
Expert witnesses can be quite expensive, and the longer you need them, the more expensive they get. If you videotape their testimony, you can play back portions of it as need arises, without retaining the expert any longer. And, as we mentioned before, video tends to cut down on attorney/witness grandstanding during depositions, so it’s a timesaver, as well.
Advances in digital video technology have simplified the process of recording testimony. A video deposition cuts inefficiencies and increases the insights derived from every step of the process. It’s definitely technology worth investigating.