Author: Gabrielle Dean

Some Pros and Cons of Video Depositions

It is not quite standard practice, but video depositions are becoming increasingly common even if the lawyers involved do not expect to use the video at trial. Of course, there are times when a video deposition is needed, such as when a witness is infirm, might be close to death, is overseas, or will be unavailable for live testimony at trial. These circumstances will, by rule, be designated as evidence depositions and will be taken pursuant to those rules.

Other than evidence depositions, when considering Noticing a discovery deposition via video, there are some advantages and disadvantages to consider. Note that cost is not too much of a factor since having a deposition videotaped does not increase the cost substantially. Further, a written transcript is almost always needed, so a video discovery deposition does not necessarily save the costs of transcription.

The disadvantages involve a number of issues. First, setup and arrangement can be more complicated. This involves questions of an appropriate visual setting. These include an appropriate chair and proper background for the witness, correct and effective lighting, placement of counsel, framing, and other visual factors. Second, witness preparation can require extra resources for the attorneys presenting the witness. In effect, the preparation is more akin to preparing a witness for trial. This includes requiring the deponent to wear formal clothing, accessories, hair, and makeup with an “eye” toward how the video would appear to a judge or jury. Preparing the witness with respect to body language and other visual clues is also important.

Third, the same preparation is needed for the lawyers who will be present in the video (or, alternatively, it should be agreed that only the witness will appear on camera). Fourth, lawyer preparation is needed to enhance question “flow.” In a non-video deposition, if a lawyer takes 10 seconds to think of the proper follow-up question, that 10 seconds does not appear in the written transcript. In a video deposition, however, that time gap can be jarring and would potentially require some editing if the video were presented to a jury.

Those disadvantages being listed, there are a great number of advantages to video depositions. These include:

  • Taking the visual “measure” of a witness — lawyers know that some witnesses present better than others in a courtroom; issues like posture, mannerisms, visual clues of truthfulness, etc.; video depositions can capture those visual measures;
  • Visual measures are available for lawyers new to the case — it is not uncommon for one set of lawyers to “work up” a case and, later, for a set of trial lawyers to take over; video depositions allow new lawyers of the case to make their own assessments of the witnesses; further, that measure is preserved even if the trial occurs years later;
  • If used at trial, a video deposition is more useful to a jury than having a written deposition read to them (and more interesting) — the jury can see the visual clues that help their judgment with respect to credibility;
  • Video tends to help keep witnesses and counsel well-behaved during the deposition — lawyers tend to fight less on camera;
  • Conversely, the video shows “bad” behavior in a deposition — such as anger and bullying tones — in a way that cannot be shown on paper;
  • Video depositions tend to be quicker — this is partly because the lawyers involved tend to be more prepared and tend to do less “fishing”.


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Videography camera on tripod


Stenographic Court Reporters: What is the Difference?

A court reporter knows that capturing and preserving dialogue in an accurate and precise way is critical, whether the recording occurs in a courtroom, in an environment needing captioning, or during a deposition. The National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) is the nation’s leading organization that represents captioners, legal videographers, and court reporters. The NCRA has the important duty to raise awareness in the public eye that court reporters and captioners are the “gold standard” when it comes to producing an accurate record of verbal dialogue.

Why Accuracy Matters

Whether a courtroom hearing or an out-of-court proceeding, an accurate record of what is spoken regarding a legal matter ensures that the judge (or jury) has access to this information. Many times in legal matters, having a solid basis and understanding of what occurred prior to arriving at that particular phase in a case is critical to making a sound decision. This need for an accurate record is critical at the trial, district, and appellate levels of both criminal and civil cases.

When attorneys are preparing their case and evaluating whether to settle or go to trial, depositions and other verbal testimony memorialized in writing are crucial for this analysis. All the parties must have an accurate record of what was said. In an environment that calls for closed captioning, an accurate record of what is said is important so that all of those participating in the event have full access to the presentation and its dialogue. Captioning is particularly critical when used during emergency situations. These events and proceedings are recorded by a live stenographic reporter to accurately capture the dialogue and convert it to written text for later use or public display.

Cheaper is Not Better

There are cheaper alternatives to a live stenographer when it comes to getting a record of the spoken word. Oftentimes, however, these other methods fall short when it comes to accurately capturing and precisely preserving the record. There are significant differences between a qualified stenographic court reporter and other methods of recording events and proceedings. Specifically, a qualified stenographic court reporter must:

  • Undergo years of specialized training, which includes classes on topics such as procedures covering court proceedings, depositions, and live captioning; English language; as well as legal and medical terminology;
  • Produce concurrent records of proceedings and events, from start to finish, with multiple backup copies;
  • Abide by court rules, professional code of ethics, and laws, including maintaining control of the chain of custody of the record produced;
  • Be able to differentiate between “on the record” and “off the record” discussions and accurately transcribe the information;
  • Successfully create a speech-to-text real-time transcription of dialogue, sometimes with multiple speakers, and provide readable transcription immediately;
  • Be able to provide instant readbacks of the record, rough drafts of the transcription, as well as expedited or same-day certified transcripts of the record;
  • Obtain advanced certifications, complete continuing education credits, and remain current on the industry’s best practices, latest technology, and standards.

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Alternative methods to a live stenographic reporter can come with complications. To ensure accurate and quick record transcription, contact Elizabeth Gallo Court Reporting today. Our team will make sure you have the highest quality record so that you can move your case forward with confidence.


Remote Court Reporter

Court Reporter Shortage Forcing Creativity, Increasing Risk of Issues

Legal practitioners across the country can agree that there is a court reporter shortage in the industry. This was an issue before the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic; the industry had a shortfall of reporters available compared to the demand for services in courtrooms and depositions. As a result, courts and attorneys have had to use creative methods to document and record proceedings and depositions for litigation matters. A majority of the feedback regarding digital and voice reporting as well as remote court reporting has been positive. That being said, many lawyers and courtrooms have experienced serious errors in reporting and recording of proceedings raising issues of both reliability and admissibility.

Nationwide Issue

Becoming a court reporter is no small feat. According to a study conducted by the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA), the decline in court reporters began in at least 2014 and is mostly due to two factors — experienced court reporters retiring from the industry and not enough new court reporters entering the industry. According to the NCRA report, on average, only 200 new court reporters enter the industry each year for every 1,120 who are retiring. The report predicted that the total number of qualified stenographers in the country will reduce by at least 50% by 2028 when compared to the number in 2014.

Court reporting requires training and education, including licensing. A decline in the enrollment of students at court-reporting schools makes it difficult to produce new graduates ready to enter the industry. Research shows that less than 10% of those who start certified stenographer court reporting schools graduate from the program.

Remote Court Reporters

Remote court reporting has significantly helped fill the holes where coverage was needed and no in-person stenographer was available. Performing court reporting services remotely helps stenographers provide much-needed services without traveling long distances, and the reporter can be in the same room as the parties. Some states’ laws, however, made remote court reporting difficult. California, for example, passed legislation in 2019 preventing courts from utilizing remote court reporters to memorialize court records and prohibited the use of state money to buy remote court reporting equipment.

Once the COVID-19 pandemic ensued, courts and attorneys alike were forced to pivot and allow remote court reporting to move litigation cases (particularly criminal ones) along. There are advantages to remote court reporting, namely–an increase in the pool of available reporters for proceedings and lowered overall costs because of travel and accommodation savings. Advocates state that these benefits outweigh the negative issues that arise with remote court reporting services, including its failure to provide full and open access to the general public and the difficulties found in reading body language via video.

Court Reporting Services

The skilled team at Elizabeth Gallo Court Reporting can help provide you with the litigation support you need–whether in person or remotely. Our reporters pride themselves in providing accurate and timely reporting to courts and attorneys alike. Contact us today. If you need international litigation support, contact Ancillary Legal today. Our team has significant experience and can support all your domestic and international litigation needs.


International Service by Mail: Allowed and Effective?

Service of process on a foreign defendant can be complicated, as proper service is wholly dependent upon the rules of both countries involved in the litigation as well as any treaty that the nation-states may have agreed to as signatories. One example of such an international agreement is The Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters—commonly referred to as the Hague Service Convention. In an attempt to get around the requirements involved in effectuating the service of process internationally, many are choosing the method of service by mail. While service by mail seems to be a simpler way to effectual international service of process because it avoids sending service through a foreign court, the consulate, or trying to locate the individual, it is likely not the best option. This is because improper service can negatively affect the legality of the lawsuit as well as hinder the ability to enforce any resulting orders and/or judgments from an American court.


International Service by Mail


According to a 2017 United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) decision, Water Splash Inc. v. Menon, international service of process by mail is an accepted method of service under the Hague Service Convention. International service by mail, however, is only appropriate if the receiving country has not objected to this method and the nation’s laws do not restrict this type of service. Even if a country is a signatory to the Hague Service Convention it is crucial to research the nation’s laws and any objections.


If a receiving country is not a signatory to the Hague Service Convention and service was completed by mail, this can make effectuating service more complicated. Indeed, one of the first things that the attorney representing the foreign defendant will look for when their client is served in an American court is the method of the service of process. Typically letters rogatory are an alternate method when serving a nation that is not a signatory to the international treaty, however, they take time and are expensive. Consequently, there is a high likelihood of the service of process by mail being challenged and the plaintiff being unable to enforce a U.S. court order or judgment.




If you need to sue an out-of-country defendant in a United States court, it is critical that the service of process is effectuated in a legal and valid manner. Otherwise, the time and expense spent on the litigation can be in vain if the plaintiff cannot collect on a judgment against the foreign defendant. Whether or not service of process by mail is allowed in international litigation depends on if the receiving country is a signatory to the Hague Service Convention. Even when the receiving nation is a signatory to this international treaty, it is still critical to research if there are any rules prohibiting service by mail or any existing objections by the receiving nation.


Contact Ancillary Legal if you need international litigation support, including properly effectuating the process of serving oa foreign defendant. Our team will provide excellent support service to ensure that you can focus on litigating the matter. For assistance with court reporting, depositions, transcriptions, and videography; contact us at Elizabeth Gallo Court Reporting.