Even with COVID restrictions lifting, the prevalence of video depositions remains. Consider using the checklist below prior to the beginning of your next deposition to ensure you are prepared to take an organized, thorough, and professional deposition.
Before the Deposition Begins
- Exhibits: If you know you plan to use exhibits with the witness, have the exhibits open and in the order you plan to use them for your examination. This will eliminate time spent opening and closing documents during the deposition. If y’ou go down a rabbit hole with the witness, having the next document lined up will help you get back on track. If you plan on asking questions about an exhibit you will share on your screen and want to use an outline while doing so, print out that portion of your outline in advance.
- If you want the witness to be familiar with the exhibit before the deposition begins, figure out how you are going to share the exhibits. Sometimes there is a fileshare box that you upload exhibits to, or you can share exhibits via the chat. Other times you may need to mail hard copies in advance.
- If you plan to impeach the witness or surprise them with an exhibit, be sure to name the exhibits internally with generic names—such as Tab 1 or Tab 2 (instead of “3/24/22 Alternative Diagnosis from Dr. Smith”)—to avoid giving the witness a preview of what you plan to cover during your examination.
- Examination Lineup: If you are one of several attorneys planning to ask questions in the deposition, get a schedule in place so everyone knows who is next in order. Otherwise, there can be down time and awkward silences while everyone tries to figure out who should examine the witness next.
- Desktop: In the few seconds it takes to open screen share and navigate to your exhibits, everyone on Zoom is given the opportunity to see what is on your desktop. Make sure to have a clean and organized space that is free of personal items and work product. In the alternative, to avoid anyone seeing your desktop at all, have your exhibits up and ready before you click “share screen” and only share the application where your exhibits are being held.
- Location: Be mindful of your surroundings and pick a quiet place to conduct the deposition. For example, if your deposition is set to begin on a Tuesday and that’s the day trash gets collected on your street, plan to take the deposition somewhere else or a find a quiet room as far away from the street as possible. Whichever room you choose, take a moment to tidy up the background. No one wants to see your unmade bed or a stack of dirty dishes sitting behind you.
- Technical: Most people dial in 10–15 minutes before the deposition, but the court reporter is usually on about 30 minutes before the deposition begins. Dial in early and ask the court reporter to confirm that your audio and video are both coming in clear before everyone else joins the deposition. You can also use this time to ask the court reporter to set up virtual break out rooms so designated parties (i.e., all defendants) have the opportunity to speak with each other outside the presence of the plaintiff and their counsel.
- Back Up Dial-In: Remote video depositions will usually offer a phone number that can be used for audio only. Pre-dial the number on your cell phone before the deposition begins. If for any reason your internet connection fails, you’ll be able to dial in within seconds to avoid missing important information and without having to scramble looking for the dial-in.