Virtual Deposition Procedure
A deposition is pre-trial testimony that is given under oath. The opposing attorney asks questions & the deponent answers them. The court reporter records everything that is “on the record” to create the official transcript, which can be used in trial.
A virtual deposition is when participants connect remotely through an online platform. Depositions conducted remotely can still be just as effective and actually have many benefits like being more time efficient & cost effective.
Although virtual depositions (also known as remote depositions or internet depositions) have been around for quite some time, they rose to popularity after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and are likely to remain a common litigation practice.
Click here to read key tips for attorneys to nail their next virtual deposition
How a Virtual Deposition Works
- All you need is a computer or tablet with a webcam. Most home internet connections are more than enough for a stable connection.
- If a participant doesn’t have the equipment needed, you can rent it. Magna offers a state-of-the-art flight pack system that we can ship anything needed (tablet with stand, internet jetpack, etc.), even for last-minute depositions.
- When you schedule your virtual deposition with Magna, we’ll send each participant their link & instructions for joining in the body of a calendar invite.
- Participants have the option to join the session before the deposition start-time to get comfortable with the platform.
- Here are some features that will be available to every participant on the session:
- Mute/Unmute Yourself
- Show/Hide your video
- View Participant list
- Chat Feature – Allows you to chat with all participants or chat privately with the session host or deposition manager. You can also share & save documents in the chat.
- Virtual Backgrounds (or blurred backgrounds)
- Only the host, videographer (and sometimes, the court reporter) are able to record virtual depositions.
Click here to request a demo of the Virtual Deposition platform
Certified Legal Videography
- Only recordings with Certified Legal Videography are admissible to be shown in trial.
- If you need an official video deposition, a certified legal videographer can man the record button and will notify participants when going on and off the record.
- The end result is just what an in-person videotape deposition might look like, showing the witness & exhibits. This can be also synced with the transcript from the court reporter.
- Some attorneys may have preferences for what they want the video output to look like or include. In this case, they should confirm with the videographer beforehand the style of video they want.
Swearing in the Witness
- Given the current situation, many venues have passed laws allowing for the court reporter to remotely swear in the witness. If the law is currently ambiguous in your venue, the parties must simply agree that the court reporter (or notary if needed) can swear in the witness remotely.
- At the start of the deposition, the court reporter will ask the witness to raise their right hand and take an oath, which will sound something like “Do you solemnly swear that the testimony you are about to give is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?”
- When picking your virtual deposition provider, you’ll want good tech support to avoid delays or connection issues.
- In addition to testing each party’s equipment prior to the session, Magna provides continuous tech support and monitoring for all of our virtual depositions. If any tech issues arise, your tech will be available instantly via the platform’s chat feature (or can be reached by phone or email).
- Magna also offers free platform training prior to the session for any participant who would like it.
- Most attorneys can agree that virtual depositions make using exhibits a whole lot easier.
- Paper copies of exhibits are not needed as each party will be able to view and access the exhibits online.
Attorneys have 3 options for managing & sharing exhibits:
1. Attorneys can share exhibits themselves throughout their presentation using the platform’s screen-share function.
In this case, attorneys should plan and organize all exhibits ahead of time, making sure files are named appropriately and are easily accessible.
2. Have an assistant/ colleague present the exhibits for them.
In this case, the colleague will receive their own link to join the virtual deposition and will have the same abilities as the other participants
3. Use a deposition manager to handle exhibits (easiest option).
Magna can also integrate with Agile Law!
- A Deposition Manager, which we call Magna LitigationVision Plus (MLV+) is an experienced trial tech that will provide seamless support throughout your virtual deposition. They’ll handle:
- Presenting exhibits, demonstratives and videos
- Managing annotations in real-time, including zooming, call-outs, highlights, and markings
- Creating & managing break-out rooms
- and more
- If you choose to use a deposition manager, you will send all the exhibits you may want to use to the MLV+ manager prior to the deposition so they can compile the database.
- All exhibits you send to the MLV+ manager will also be shared with the court reporter, saving you that extra step and allowing you to get your transcript back quicker.
Viewing/ Screen Options
- Each person can choose the screen view that they are most comfortable with (speaker-view/ gallery view).
- You will also have the option to “pin” the witness or any participant full screen.
- When sharing exhibits, you can have the witness remain large while the document is smaller or vice versa.
- Break-out rooms can be used for private meetings with your deponent, co-counsel or others.
- A deposition manager can handle creating break-out rooms, moving people in between rooms and ensuring confidentiality.
- Participants will not need separate links to join break-out rooms and are able to re-join the main room at any time.
Realtime Court Reporting
- Magna offers realtime court-reporting for virtual depositions. Attorneys can view realtime transcripts in a number of ways depending on your preference and equipment (on the same screen or on a second monitor or tablet).
- Magna Legal Services offers nationwide coverage and easy scheduling 24/7 (online, by email or by phone). Click here to Schedule a Deposition.
- Options available include:
- Your choice of platform (Zoom, Cisco/WebEx, Microsoft Teams or other)
- Deposition manager
- Realtime court reporter
- Certified legal videographer
- Platform training (it’s free!)
- Interpreter or translator
- Witness preparation session with a Magna litigation consultant
- Conference room reservation
- Custom virtual backgrounds
- Video/ transcript sync
Accessing Transcripts & Recordings
- Attorneys can receive their transcripts electronically or hardcopy. If you have Magna Online Office, you can access all of the transcripts and exhibits on there as well.
- Video recordings will be sent to you electronically via an email link or you can request a hard copy DVD.
Remote Depositions with Magna Legal Services
Magna LitigationVision (MLV) is Magna’s virtual deposition platform, which gives you the ability to depose a witness from anywhere in the world. MLV provides clients with real-time video access to depositions, mediations, arbitrations, hearings, meetings, and other proceedings.