LEGAL VIDEOGRAPHY – HOW DOES IT HELP MY CASE?
The court reporting firm I regularly use challenged me a few weeks ago. One of the court reporters asked why I don’t use a legal videographer
more often. I appreciated the question; It made me think of how I can more effectively use court reporting services, court reporters, and legal videographers. Particularly, it made me think of how I use deposition video to great advantage, and the circumstances under which I should be mindful to order legal videography services for a deposition.
First, I use a legal videographer to film a deposition if I want to add drama to the deposition or its presentation at trial. I’ve used videography to highlight testimony from a dying client, where I had to preserve his testimony before he died. The deposition wasn’t used at trial – we settled, and I attribute the successful result, in large part, to the drama created by the dying client’s presence via legal videography. I also thought of times I should have retained a legal videographer to preserve the appearance of a Machiavellian corporate representative whose deposition demeanor might be especially offensive to a jury, and who was understandably replaced before trial by a more demur representative.
I also use a legal videographer to film depositions where I suspect another attorney will misbehave, to discourage shenanigans at depositions. On a few occasions, I’ve seen an opposing counsel or deponent engage in visibly obvious coaching techniques: vigorous nods or shakes of the head, kicking of shins, holding up fingers for numbers, cut-throat signs to stop speaking, writing on the witness’s tablet, and even whispering in the witness’s ear. On one occasion, an attorney attempted to pilfer a document from among originals in a deposition room. The behavior wasn’t detectable on the written record, but it stopped when I asked my court reporting firm to provide a legal videographer for future depositions.
Finally, I use a legal videographer to videotape deposition testimony where seeing the witness might clarify or augment his written testimony. I sometimes see trial litigants present deposition testimony from a witness who uses body language or gestures as useful communication tools, sometimes because the witness speaks with a heavy accent or poor grammar. The written transcript may be rough and difficult to understand. Use of legal videography to augment the transcript with the witness’s body language can add clarity to the witness’s testimony.
Especially when these factors arise in litigation, asking a court reporting firm to supply a legal videographer can return big dividends.