Remote Depositions during COVID-19
We have failed to keep COVID-19 at bay, but we have created innovative ways to accommodate everyday necessities. One of them is how we have updated our legal management system including, how we are now allowing remote depositions so that, in turn, our clients can still see their cases moving forward during these trying times. We will also give you some tips so that you, even those that are not technologically inclined, can experience a smooth and effortless deposition all from the comfort of their homes.
It is encouraged in Utah to do your depositions remotely, and there are many tools to help you. Court reporters are willing to do almost everything that will lead you to click a link and join for your deposition.
However, here is a couple of what we think is the best software to be using when you are going to be attending your remote deposition.
WebEx is the approved CISCO provider. WebEx is easy to use and has similar capabilities and appearance to Zoom. Both platforms offer easy screen sharing and the ability to share exhibits. To set up a deposition, provide the email contact information for the parties involved to the vendor, and they will coordinate sending out meeting invitations. As long as the parties have access to the internet and a device with a camera, they will attend. It is best practice to work with the vendor at least one week prior. On the day of the proceeding, arrive at least 15 minutes early to check connections and make any accommodations that may be necessary.
As stated, Zoom is equally equipped to handle the demands of remote deposition by offering a similar interface to WebEx. Zoom, however, has had several data security issues brought to light. It is best to insist that the host’s highest levels of security are used in any Zoom meeting. Zoom does collect data on its services, and these data privacy issues have led to several government agencies avoiding its use.
Numerous depositions involve requested documents from opposing counsel or the deponent (by discovery or subpoena) that are needed before, or at, the deposition. This is particularly true with expert witnesses. Often, expert witnesses appear at the deposition with massive files, which would complicate, if not obviate, the remote deposition. Best practice dictates that the attorney considers reaching out to opposing counsel or the unrepresented deponent to formulate an agreement that the requested documents will be produced a certain number of days before the deposition. Such production effectively acknowledges that the deponent complied with the subpoena or local/court rules by “bringing” requested documents to the deposition. Having adequate time to review these files is invaluable instead of having to object and maintain an open record pending review of the files.