Depositions

How Excellent Court Reporting Can Smooth the Process of Conducting Remote Depositions

The keys to a smooth-running remote deposition are "setting" both locations in advance, coordination during the deposition, and "planning for adversity."

Experienced Court Reporters Make Remote Depositions Easy

Conducting depositions remotely is relatively common in legal proceedings if a witness is not within a reasonable driving distance from the court district. Remote depositions have some obvious benefits, including reducing travel, hotel, and related expenses for witnesses and attorneys, saving time that would have been spent in traveling, mitigating environmental impacts, and more.

Female seated at desk with laptop and stenography machine_Experienced court reporter

On the other hand, there are some unique challenges for conducting remote depositions. This is the case for any sort of meeting or event that occurs simultaneously in more than one location. This is where having excellent court reporting — like Elizabeth Gallo Court Reporting, LLC — can help smooth out those difficulties. If you need court reporting services, call us here at (866) 689-1837. We accept orders via email, phone, and via telefax at (866) 870 – 6032.

The keys to a smooth-running remote deposition are “setting” both locations in advance, coordination during the deposition, and “planning for adversity.”

A Court Reporter Prepares the Room Early.

Excellent court reporters always arrive as early as possible to “set” the room in advance for the remote deposition. This is not always possible, but it is the best practice. Attorneys control the factual and legal aspects of a deposition, but a good court reporter controls the setting to ensure that the questions and answers are accurately recorded and transcribed.

“Setting” the room involves having the stenotype and recording machines ready to begin and having paper, exhibit stickers, and other materials ready for immediate use. For remote depositions, “setting” the room involves accomplishing this at both locations. Generally, your excellent court reporter will arrive at least an hour early and be in quick communication with the staff at the remote location. Video, audio, and computer linkages must be tested and adjusted accordingly. If documents and exhibits have already been provided to the attorneys at the remote location, those should also be made ready. If not, then copies should be sent during the “prep stage,” or plans should be made for sending the documents/exhibits in an efficient and timely fashion as the deposition proceeds.

The Difference of an Experienced Human In The Room.

As the start time approaches, good court reporters also check and test to ensure that the video, audio, and computer connections are working at peak performance — or, at least, working sufficiently to accurately relay the questions and receive the responses.

Where possible, it is often best to have the known deposition exhibits marked/stickered in advance. This is true with any deposition, but this is particularly helpful with remote depositions. This is not strictly necessary, and marking exhibits can be done on an ongoing-in-deposition basis. However, everyone will need to have some patience as that is done. This is part of the coordination aspect of a remote deposition.

Another aspect of coordination is to ensure and test the ability to transmit new documents during the deposition. Inevitably, one of the attorneys will want to mark a new document as an exhibit. Possibly, that new document is not in the hands of the attorneys at the remote location. Thus, there must be a method of efficiently transferring a copy (via electronic transmission or even via facsimile). This might involve the necessity to scan the document; good court reporters are prepared for this.

Finally, excellent court reporting services will have possible solutions for unexpected adversity. These can include problems with the internet linkages, problems with the remote service platform, the inability of parties to sign in and “join” the remote meeting, etc. Good court reporters will have various solutions to these types of unexpected events and will resolve the problems as quickly as possible.

Contact Elizabeth Gallo Court Reporting Today For Experienced Reporters.

For more information, call the experienced court reporters at Elizabeth Gallo Court Reporting. We follow the best practices in order to provide excellent litigation support to our customers. Contact us today to learn about our services and how we can help you.

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Why You Need Depositions Instead of Witness Interviews

Every lawyer knows that witnesses must be contacted and interviewed. But an interview is not enough to properly and thoroughly prepare for trial (at least not for key witnesses). Make no mistake, potential witnesses must be contacted and interviewed. But the main reasons for the interview are to determine if they are a “key” witness and to determine if the testimony of the witness must be taken via a deposition. Interviews are no substitute for depositions.

Why are depositions better than witness interviews?

Why? First, depositions are the best process for “cementing” a witness’s testimony and opinions. An interview is nothing more than that, and interview notes have no use in a trial. You cannot, for example, impeach a witness with interview notes if the witness says something different “on the stand” from what they said during the interview. By contrast, a deposition transcript — prepared by talented court reporters — can be used to impeach a witness. This is largely because, before a deposition begins, the witness must be sworn to tell the truth.

Get to know your witness's personality and presence

Second, an interview does not generally bring an attorney and a witness face-to-face. Typically, interviews are done over the phone. For trial purposes, it is essential to see the face and body language of a witness, which are classic indications of truthfulness and credibility. Further, some witnesses present as “likable” and “serious” or with other qualities that may be positive in front of a jury. Other witnesses will present in the opposite manner. These qualities are important for trial preparation and for how such a witness can be handled during a trial. A witness with a “disagreeable” personality might be given a quick direct examination to obtain their evidence and then sent as quickly as possible out of the courtroom. These qualities might be vaguely perceived during an interview, but can only be truly determined during the process of a deposition.

A Deposition is Practice for Testimony in Court

In a similar manner, a deposition can be seen as a “practice” — maybe a “dress rehearsal” — for the witness’s later testimony presented in front of the jury (or another fact-finder). The practice can help a witness be less nervous during the trial testimony. This is one reason to not be too concerned about presenting your own witnesses for a deposition. The practice can help the witness and show areas for improvement.

A Deposition is a Strategic Advantage

Fourth, because opposing sets of attorneys are present at a deposition (unlike an interview), a deposition allows litigators to test the strength of a witness’s testimony and to glean aspects of the other parties’ trial tactics and strategies. The opposing lawyers will have questions of their own, may focus on certain documents or certain parts of the testimony, or ignore aspects of the case. All of these can provide insights into the trial strategies of the other parties. In asking their questions, the opposing attorneys might demonstrate the strength or weakness of a witness’s testimony in a manner that is usually impossible during an interview.

Contact Elizabeth Gallo Court Reporting Today

For more information, call the experienced court reporters at Elizabeth Gallo Court Reporting. We follow the best practices in order to provide excellent litigation support to our customers. Contact us today to learn about our services and how we can help you.

Elder Law Practice: Use Court Reporting to Defeat Will Contests

It is true in every legal jurisdiction here in the U.S. that, to be legally valid, all estate planning documents must be in writing and witnessed. For example, a last will and testament must be in writing, and the signing of the will must be witnessed by at least two persons (who also must sign as witnesses). So, a video-taped or recorded will is not legally valid if there is no written counterpart. For this reason, few elder law attorneys think of having a court reporter attend a will signing.

However, there is tremendous legal value in having a court reporter attend a will signing and prepare a certified transcript and video recording. The value is in providing solid — and nearly irrefutable — evidence that can be used to defend against and defeat certain types of will contests. If you want to make court reporting an integral part of your elder law practice, consider Elizabeth Gallo Court Reporting, LLC. Call us here at (866) 689-1837. We accept orders via email, phone, and via telefax at (866) 870-6032.

What is a Will Contest, and How Can a Certified Court Reporting Transcript Help?

A “will contest” is a legal proceeding that occurs after a decedent’s death that challenges the legal validity of the last will and testament. Many of the legal challenges are based on various possible legal theories concerning the mental capacity of the maker of the will or the validity of the execution. For example, a disgruntled heir might claim that the will was NOT signed in the presence of two witnesses. Whether such is legally “true” depends on the evidence that can be marshaled to support the claim of invalidity or to defeat the claim. With just this example, as a matter of preserving evidence, we can see the great value of having a certified court reporter attend a will signing.

Another potential claim that can be made by a disgruntled heir is that the maker of the will lacked mental capacity. For example, a person with a clear case of dementia or insanity does not have the legal capacity to execute a will. Again, we can see the great value of having a court reporter attend a will signing because the certified transcript and video recording become evidence that can defeat a claim that the maker of the will lacked mental capacity. Indeed, with the presence of a court reporter and video recording machines, an extended effort can be made to demonstrate mental capacity.

This is similarly true for other legal arguments that might invalidate a will, such as duress or undue influence. Duress will invalidate a will if the will was signed under some form of coercion or force. A certified transcript and video can be used as evidence to defeat that kind of argument. With undue influence, typically, the argument is that an aging person came under the emotional influence of a strong personality — often a caregiver — and gave to that person a substantial portion of the person’s estate. Again, a certified transcript and video of the will signing can be used as evidence to defeat that kind of argument.

Contact Elizabeth Gallo Court Reporting Today

For more information, call the experienced court reporters at Elizabeth Gallo Court Reporting. We follow the best practices in order to provide excellent litigation support to our customers. Contact us today to learn about our services and how we can help you.

Court Reporting and The Uniform Interstate Depositions and Discovery Act

The Uniform Interstate Depositions and Discovery Act (“UIDDA”) was drafted and suggested to the Legislatures of the 50 states by the Uniform Law Commission (“ULC”) in 2007. Many uniform laws have been created by the ULC (and by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws). The general idea is/has been to offer or suggest a uniform law that will be adopted by all 50 states in the country. The most famous uniform law here in the U.S. is probably the Uniform Commercial Code.

In this respect, the UIDDA has been very successful since it has now been adopted by 48 states, most recently by Texas (although the Texas Supreme Court must still take action to operationalize the UIDDA).

Court Reporting and the Uniform Interstate Depositions and Discovery Act

For court reporting, the UIDDA has been one factor among many that has increased the number and prevalence of depositions being taken in other states. This trend has, in turn, impelled the increasing use of remote deposition methods and procedures creating some unique challenges and leading to the rise of excellent national court reporting services like Elizabeth Gallo Court Reporting, LLC. If you need out-of-state court reporting services or cross-state court reporting, call us here at (866) 689-1837. We accept orders via email, phone and via telefax at (866) 870-6032.

How does the UIDDA affect depositions?

The UIDDA distinguishes between what it calls the “trial-state” and the “discovery-state.” The former is where litigation has been filed and the latter is the state in which a deposition (or other discovery procedure) is needed. The UIDDA establishes uniform procedures whereby litigants can present a clerk of the court located in the discovery-state with a subpoena issued by a court in the trial-state. Under the UIDDA, when presented with such a trial-state subpoena, the discovery-state clerk of court will issue a subpoena — on the same terms as the trial-state subpoena — that will be valid and enforceable under the laws and local procedures of the discovery-state. In this manner, non-parties in the discovery-state are compelled to respond to the trial-state subpoena by their local and state laws. The UIDDA also gives the trial-state litigant issuing the subpoena the ability to seek enforcement of the subpoena under the discovery-state rules and laws.

The UIDDA also eliminates the need for things such as letters rogatory, commission or quasi-court actions, and/or the filing of various potential miscellaneous legal actions against third-party discovery targets, including individuals and corporations.

To protect residents of the discovery-state, the UIDDA requires that the discovery sought by the trial-state litigant comply with the rules of the discovery-state. Further, efforts by the targets of the trial-state subpoena can resist the discovery via motions to quash or to modify the subpoena issued. Resolutions of such motions are to be governed by the laws and rules of the discovery-state.

Contact Elizabeth Gallo Court Reporting Today

For more information, call the experienced court reporters at Elizabeth Gallo Court Reporting. We follow the best practices in order to provide excellent litigation support to our customers. Contact us today to learn about our services and how we can help you.