What we have noticed in our office is that videographer bookings are up as more and more attorneys are using videotaped depositions in trial. I recently asked our clients for some feedback on why they are choosing to use video more. Hands down they all agree that it is effective at trial. Here are the highlights of those conversations:
How a witness appears, behaves, moves around, and speaks can tell a story. Many attorneys are choosing to videotape all key witnesses for this reason. Sometimes reading a transcript doesn’t reveal clearly what is happening at a deposition, and it does not reveal the tone at which an answer was given. Does the written word capture sarcasm, attitude, or a general arrogance? Does the transcript reflect how long it takes a witness to answer? Would replaying this to a jury change their opinion about a witness’ truth and veracity? All these things play into an attorney’s decision to use a video clip at trial.
Being in this industry and videotaping depositions the last few years, I have had a front row seat to see how deponents react to a camera in front of them. Some deponents are intimidated by the video camera in the room and some do not even acknowledge it. There could be a sense of pressure with a video camera and the red “record” light glaring only a few feet away. This can affect their nerves and how well they testify that day and will also give insight to what an attorney can expect at trial.
Several clients mentioned using the videotape of an expert’s testimony at trial versus paying an expert to be available and to testify at trial. It does not always work out but can be a great cost-saver.
Case Review and Trial Preparation
I worked with a client the other day who ordered four copies of the synched video to be sent to him. I asked him why, and he told me this was a pivotal witness and he needed to send it out to others involved in the case so they could review what had transpired that day. After all, it would all be there: the videotape and the transcript. It also would be easily searchable.
In most cases, the videotape is synchronized to the reporter’s transcript. Clips can easily be made by the attorney, their staff, or by a trusted videographer prior to trial. Clips are only short highlights of the testimony that is separated out into its own separate video file. Having the ability to show the jury clips from depositions can be a true advantage. It can quickly show the jury key facts about the case or how credible a witness is or isn’t. Did they say something else during the deposition? Would sharing this clip with the jury change the outcome?