Churchill Reporting encourages attorneys to incorporate video into their depositions whenever feasible. According to the American Bar Association, “video is a far richer tool than the stenographic transcript alone.” Numerous studies have concluded that video depositions are much more likely to keep a jury’s attention. Moreover, good printed testimony of a credible witness can become great testimony, when seen as a video. If a picture is worth a thousand words then a video deposition may be worth a million. Video creates context to an otherwise sterile transcript of the deponent’s testimony. It allows the jury to contextualize gestures, long pauses and the deponent’s general demeanor. The jury would never know from reading a transcript that a deponent’s voice was quivering or raised during testimony.
Most experienced litigators advocate the use of video depositions in two particular circumstances: by the plaintiff as an admission by a party opponent—as permitted by Rule 32(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Federal Rule of Evidence 801(d)(2)—and to depose important witnesses who will not be available for trial. Video depositions also have significant value outside of the courtroom. For example, an attorney can send snippets of a deponent’s video to a claims adjuster to demonstrate how a witness will appear at trial. Video is also crucial to preparing for arbitration and mediation.
Let’s face it, the rapid advance of technology has made video cameras extremely affordable and easy to use. This has led many attorneys to consider videotaping a deposition themselves in order to save money. This is a bad idea for several reasons, do not become a “pro se videographer.” First, an attorney’s focus during a deposition should be on the witness. You should be thinking about your line of questioning rather than the camera’s focus. Second, operating the video camera properly during a deposition really is a full-time job. The videographer must continually monitor the camera’s picture, memory, power feed and audio. We have encountered numerous examples of video being ruined because an air conditioner kicked on during the deposition and ruined the video’s sound quality. A professional videographer will wear headphones and ensure the audio is accurately captured. If your video is of a low quality and contains technical errors then it will not be allowed at trial. Third, a videographer brings objectivity. Opposing counsel will not be able to challenge the video or argue that it is an inaccurate record. Fourth, we provide you with peace of mind. We maintain a copy of the video in perpetuity on our server and cloud server. You never have to worry about it being lost or damaged. Even if you are not using our Illinois digital reporters, rely on our videographers to save you time and money with a trial-ready (edited at your direction) video depositions.
Churchill can synchronize the audio and video to the digital reporters written transcript. This allows you to highlight key sentences or paragraphs at trial and play them back to the jury. The jury will then see the words spoken by the deponent and also see the how the witness spoke those words.
If you do decide to become a “pro se videographer”, keep in mind that you will have to be a “pro se editor” as well. By rule, all objections must be removed from the video prior to trial. This means that the taking attorney must spend hours editing the video record instead of preparing for trial. Do what you do best: try your case. You are not saving your client money by trying to be a part-time pro se videographer. Let Churchill handle all your videography needs.