When witnesses live out of state or otherwise can’t attend traditional legal depositions, one option is to depose the witness over the phone. Telephonic deposition services present Huseby court reporters with special challenges to create an accurate record.
Preparation Is Key
One benefit of telephonic legal depositions is that they are easier to schedule. Since the involved parties don’t have to travel to the deposition site, they are better able to find time in their schedules. However telephone depositions can lend an air of casualness and participants must understand a telephonic deposition is just as formal as traditional depositions or courtroom testimony.
We advise our deposition reporters to arrange telephonic depositions well in advance. Since everybody will not be in the same room, attorneys will need time to get exhibits and other materials to each participant. Reporters should ask attorneys if they will need items such as specialized word lists so the reporters can be prepared well before the proceeding begins.
Swearing In the Witness
One of the many services court reporters provide at legal depositions is administering the oath to the witness. This necessity means that in most states the reporter must be in the presence of the deponent rather than attending by telephone.
Most jurisdictions require the oath to be administered in person. For example New York court reporters cannot give the oath by phone or through a proxy. Some states don’t require certified court reporters to give the oath and a notary public at the deponent’s location can do the job. A few jurisdictions allow swearing in over the phone but often reporters still prefer administering the oath in person.
This can be further complicated if the witness is in a different jurisdiction than the trial, since the rules of the deposition are governed by the location of the deponent. When in doubt, reporters should go by the stricter set of rules.
Tips for the Deposition
The limitations of telephones complicate the court reporting process. Parties attending legal depositions using speaker phones may find their comments cut off if someone else starts to speak, making it difficult for reporters to record their remarks accurately.
Even in the absence of speaker phones, court reporters can find it hard to identify speakers especially once people start taking over each other. Attorneys raising objections or anyone else speaking outside of the normal flow of the proceedings should identify themselves before speaking. As always, reporters should interrupt the proceedings for clarification if necessary.
When the deposition is complete, participants are often impatient to hang up. Reporters need to get necessary information quickly before attendees break off contact. This can include attorneys’ transcript requests or information clarification such as spelling of names.
While telephonic legal depositions are rare, reporters need to be ready in case they are required to participate in one.