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.

Do I Need Court Reporting for a Georgia Arbitration?

Many lawyers find great value in having a court reporter transcribing arbitration proceedings.

Legal and business reasons for using a court reporter in an arbitration


The answer is a bit complicated. Many lawyers find great value in having a court reporter transcribing arbitration proceedings. This can be particularly valuable if the arbitration proceedings are spread out over non-consecutive days. During those intervals, the lawyers (and their clients) have time to review the transcripts of the previous hearing. This can help identify tactical course corrections that should be made, confusion that must be cleared up, matters that need additional follow-up, etc. An arbitration transcript is even valuable at the granular level if the transcript contains what you know to be an error. Maybe the court reporter misheard what was said. Maybe the Arbitrator or the Panel misheard it too! Something like that must be clarified on the next hearing day.

Arbitration transcripts can also be helpful in preparing witnesses that have not yet given testimony and can even be useful for experts to review. There may even be some possible impeachment value to having transcripts if a witness gives testimony on multiple days. Transcripts are also immensely helpful in preparing closing and summary statements at the end of testimony/evidence.

If the respective parties have been engaged in multiple cases (or expect to be), then arbitration transcripts will be useful in those other cases. Whether such transcripts are admissible in those other cases does not factor into their usefulness for preparing your case, knowing what to ask for in discovery, gleaning the opposing party’s litigation strategies, etc.

Finally, having arbitration transcripts is extremely useful if you plan any sort of appeal. Appeals from arbitration awards are rare and successful appeals are even rarer. But, having transcripts will certainly enhance any chance of winning an appeal.

Aside from these legal reasons to have arbitration transcripts, having transcripts may provide business and practical future value to the client. First, the parties may dispute what was decided at the arbitration. Transcripts will end that dispute. Second, parties can use the transcripts to show what was said about some issue of importance that is in dispute or under discussion.

Other considerations for using a court reporter in an arbitration


Having said all of the above, there are some other considerations. The first is whether you are allowed to have a court reporter at your arbitration. Some arbitration agreements have provisions banning court reporting as a method of maintaining confidentiality. This is also true for some arbitration services. Likewise, even if permitted, some individual arbitrators either bar court reporters entirely or express their displeasure that a party seeks to have the proceedings transcribed. Finally, court reporting is not without cost, and some clients want to keep costs down. As with many things, the question is: Do the costs outweigh the potential benefits? So, these are some of the other considerations that must be evaluated when deciding whether you need a court reporter at your next Georgia arbitration.

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.

Old Law and New Tricks: Charitable Immunity and the Catholic Church

A plaintiff filed suit against the Catholic Church for the abuse he allegedly suffered from a bishop in the 1960s. The Catholic Church attempted to invoke a now-abolished law—charitable immunity—to claim its status as a non-profit prevented it from being sued. The Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) recently ruled on the case, rejecting Holy See’s argument. Below is a brief explanation of the matter, according to GBH News.


The Case


As per its own court rules, the SJC issues opinions on cases within 130 days of oral arguments. In John Doe v. the Roman Catholic Bishop of Springfield, an unnamed plaintiff filed a claim against the Catholic Church based on allegations that he was sexually abused by the bishop of Springfield at the time when he was an altar boy in the 1960s. The plaintiff sought damages for negligent hiring and supervision of the bishop as well as monetary compensation for the sexual abuse. The Catholic Church challenged the claims and sought to block the lawsuit from going to a trial by jury.


The Church’s basis for the challenge rests on two arguments. First, under church autonomy, the Church argued that trial judges in civil matters may not significantly interfere with the religious activities of faith-based entities because of the free exercise clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Second, the Church claims charitable immunity a doctrine that protected charities from certain lawsuits if the underlying action was related to the organization’s charitable mission. The rationale behind the doctrine—which was abolished by the legislature in 1971—was that permitting such legal claims could deplete the organizations’ funding and upend their charitable goals.


The SJC’s Decision


When charitable immunity was abolished, it was done so for incidents that occurred after 1971. In short, the abolishment did not occur retroactively. So, essentially, the Church’s legal argument on this basis is valid even after all these years and even though the doctrine no longer exists because of when the alleged sexual abuse occurred in this particular acase.


The SJC did not address the first issue of church autonomy, stating it was not ripe for review, but did address the second issue of charitable immunity. After reviewing the pre-1971 caselaw on charitable immunity, the SJC held that the bishop’s alleged activities did not correlate with the Catholic Church’s charitable mission but, rather, simply had to do with his own behavior. Accordingly, the Church was not immune to a civil lawsuit related to the bishop’s activities. The plaintiff’s claims regarding negligent hiring and supervision of the bishop, however, were covered under charitable immunity because hiring and supervising fell in line with the Church’s charitable mission of its personnel. Accordingly, the claim could not proceed.


To read more about the case, click here.


For assistance with service of process; both locally and internationally, visit us at Ancillarylegal.com

For assistance with court reporting, transcripts, and videography. visit us at Georgiareporting.com

Served With a Lawsuit From Overseas? Understanding the Hague Convention

When someone is served with a lawsuit that originated overseas, they may not know how different this type of litigation can be from a domestic lawsuit. In such scenarios, if the Plaintiff’s and Defendant’s home country is a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial & Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters (“Hague Service Convention”), then the standardized method of delivering legal documents is often used.


The Hague Service Convention is an international treaty created to provide a streamlined method of serving legal documents to provide the parties with notice of pending litigation between the treaty’s signatories. This treaty provides the most widely recognized method of international service of process. In some U.S. service statutes, this method had been added as a required method of service of process. There are only about 68 countries around the world, however, are signatories to the Hague Service Convention.


Why the Hague Service Convention Matters


If a creditor has a favorable U.S. judgment or order that needs to be enforced, due process is critical. Consequently, properly serving an overseas defendant under the Hague Serice Convention is imperative. This is because if service is determined to be defective under the laws of a foreign nation it typically cannot be fixed and will negatively affect any later enforcement of a judgment or order. It is important to understand that the requirements of international service of process differ from country to country. Because it can take a few months or even a few years for international service of process to be completed, it is necessary to get it right the first time. Improper service could occur for various reasons—such as mistranslation—and will require you to start over again, increasing costs and causing delays.


What You Should Know


International service of process can sound daunting. While it is important to understand the importance of the Hague Service Convention, it is just as important to be aware that international service of process methods vary depending on the particular circumstances. An attorney should ensure that all the necessary documents are properly prepared and served via the correct avenue. Moreover, attorneys should update the court and client on the progress of international service.


In countries that are not signatories to the Hague Service Convention letters rogatory and private service of process are available options. Letters rogatory is a request signed by the forum court in the United States and sent through diplomatic channels to the courts of a foreign nation asking for judicial assistance on the international level. If the plaintiff’s counsel believes that a U.S. judgment may ultimately need to be enforced, this is the formal process that should be considered. Some countries—such as Austria—require letters rogatory. Private service of process, on the other hand, typically does not exist as an industry outside of the United States. While there are some private service options available, it is more difficult to enforce a U.S. judgment in a foreign country if service of process occurs privately.


If you need litigation support for an international lawsuit, contact Ancillary Legal today. We can provide assistance for all your litigation needs.

For assistance with depositions, videography, or transcripts, contact us at Elizabeth Gallo Court Reporting.