Since the COVID-19 pandemic locked everyone inside their homes, it became impossible for courts to allow attorneys, judges, juries, reporters, parties, or any other personnel involved in litigation to meet in person to carry out legal proceedings of any sort. The idea of sitting next to each other in tight circles in closed rooms for long periods with lots of handling of physical documents and pieces of evidence, became impractical and unwise.
However, that doesn’t mean the courts could completely halt all legal activities until the pandemic was eliminated. High-profile cases, particularly, would face great damage if they weren’t dealt with immediately. Under these exceptional circumstances, the legal community eventually reached a consensus on conducting activities broadly known as virtual depositions.
Virtual Deposition Notice
If you’ve ever read legal literature, you’ll understand that a deposition notice is sent to parties involved in any case who need to be present at a certain time in a certain location for answering questions under oath, whether as a witness, as a defendant, or as any other role. So it’s basically a summon from the court which is sent out so that the parties can assemble in one place and present their part in the case.
With COVID-19 sending everyone into quarantine, this deposition has gone virtual, hence the term virtual deposition. A virtual deposition is an electronic invitation to deposition in litigation where all the parties, jury, attorneys, judges, reporters, and other personnel are present in a virtual manner.
An electronics vendor, commonly known as a virtual conferencing app or software program, serves as a medium for digital meetings. In this way, a virtual deposition notice is sent out to electronically and digitally carry out legal proceedings.
Why Do We Need a Virtual Deposition Notice?
The most obvious reason for sending a virtual deposition notice is the health hazard of a regular deposition notice during the coronavirus. However, the utility of a virtual deposition notice doesn’t end with this. A virtual deposition notice is important for a couple of other reasons as well. These include:
Reaching Out to Plaintiffs, Defendants, Attorneys, and Others at Remote Locations
Remote deposition means the parties involved can attend the oath-taking, swearing-in, and questioning-answering from anywhere, at any time. However, this also means that the preparation and distribution of a virtual deposition notice need to be done in advance so that it can reach the recipients in due time.
A virtual deposition notice helps remotely located parties set up their location in advance for the hearing. The notice carries all the information relevant to the recipients, who will then move remotely to compile their evidence, prepare their statements, and carry out all other preparatory steps as they would in case of a regular deposition.
Get the Parties’ Feedback on the Process and Their Availability
Although a virtual deposition seems effortless because there’s no compulsion to fully dress up and carry along with hardcopy documents or evidence, it can still be difficult and time-consuming to arrange everything prior. This is why a virtual deposition notice, besides informing the parties about their requirement on a certain day, date, and time, also plays the role of getting updates on everyone’s whereabouts and progress.
If someone isn’t available on a certain date or time, what alternative can they choose? If a piece of evidence, or a witness, or a vendor can’t be procured for some reason, the recipients can inform the others regarding that information, too.
Additionally, a virtual deposition notice also permits the senders to confirm whether the recipient has acknowledged the notice or not. A word of acknowledgment or an automatically received mark indicates that the virtual deposition has reached the other end, whether it’s sent via email or any other virtual vendor. This saves the legal body from future confusion and trouble during the deposition procedure.
Outline the Procedure of Virtual Deposition
This is perhaps the most important reason behind having a detailed virtual deposition notice sent out to all the personnel involved in litigation. It’s been about a year and a half of our life post-COVID, which means that everyone’s experience with virtual meetings, conferences, evidence sharing, oath-taking, statement recording, and other activities in the digital realm is fairly scarce.
Even though lawyers, attorneys, judges, juries, and other court employees and staff are familiar with running an online deposition in litigation, the procedures are often alien to those who have filed the petition or are present there as defendants, plaintiffs, or witnesses. Given this variety of experience, details of the preparations of the deposition must be discussed in advance.
A virtual deposition notice may first outline the technical aspects of the meeting. This will include details regarding the vendor, software program used for evidence, transcription software used in the process, and any other software program used.
Other details such as the time, date, devices, and other preliminary information may also be a part of the notice. Other than this, the details of the deposition itself are a part of a detailed virtual notice. This might include a minute-wise breakdown of the agenda, the motives, nature of arguments, evidence details, and so forth.
Virtual Deposition Notice Sample
A virtual deposition notice contains nearly the same clauses, sections, and information as in-person deposition notices. However, a couple of additional sections provide a run-down of the procedure in virtual capacity so that any hindrance at the time of the deposition can be minimized. For instance, here’s what a standard column that may be found in a virtual deposition notice may include:
Plaintiffs are using __________ for court reporting, videography, and remote video deposition services in this case. __________ intends to use the __________ platform, which allows for the witness, Attending Counsel, Deposing Counsel, Defending Counsel, Court Reporter, and videographer to participate in a Deposition without attending the Deposition in person. Defendants are using __________ for court reporting, videography, and remote video deposition services in this case. __________ intends to use the __________ platform, which allows for the witness,
Attending Counsel, Deposing Counsel, Defending Counsel, Court Reporter, and videographer to participate in a Deposition without attending the Deposition in person. __________ ‘s and _________’s cost structures for the services being rendered are attached to this stipulation.
In the blank spaces here, the notice sender may fill out the names and other details regarding the attendants, technical details, and the agenda of deposition.
Other clauses that are present in an in-person deposition notice are similarly included in a remote deposition notice as well. These sections may include:
1. Deposition Details
The notice is intended to inform the concerned ones about the nature of the deposition. If the deposition was previously supposed to be an in-person one, the notice might serve as an update to all the parties involved.
The clauses of video conferencing and deposition recording talking about the vendors used, video quality, recording settings, Cloud software, and more details about how the deposition will be attended, presented, and recorded.
Exhibits in the legal sense refer to the presentation of evidence, documents, and all other physical or virtual ‘possessions’ or presentable details of a case. The exhibits in a remote deposition can vary by huge degrees depending on the nature of the case.
Some evidence may be presented through a virtual platform, while other hard evidence might need a part virtual, part physical exhibition. The mode of the exhibition will also have to be compatible with how you are running the relevant phase of deposition.
3. Witness Communications
Since the main purpose of conducting a deposition is to get the witnesses’ statements on record, the part about witness statement recording is highly crucial. The stenographer, defendant counsel, attorneys, plaintiffs, defendants, the jury, and all other parties will uniformly ensure their presence during witness statement recording.
Nothing will go unrecorded or be deleted afterwards since this can jeopardize the whole case later on. The copies and recordings of all statements, both written and in audio or video format, may later be provided to the involved parties so that there’s no difficulty in future proceedings.
4. Ethical Issues
A detailed account of who can be a part of the proceedings and what ethical code of conduct is also useful when sending a virtual deposition notice. For instance, in sensitive cases in which the witnesses are remotely taking their oath, witness protection is a high priority. The presence of another party in the room, which may be discreetly directing, intimidating, or recording the proceedings, is a threat to the deposition.
In such cases, the court will look into how they can provide remote protection services in order to maintain the integrity of the case.
Arranging a virtual or remote deposition has its own perks as well as drawbacks. Regardless, you have to map out all technicalities and sort out your ethical issues prior so that the deposition can run its course swiftly. A well-crafted virtual deposition notice is exactly what can help you set up a smooth deposition session. Remote Legal offers remote legal proceeding software to meet all of your changing needs. Schedule a demo today.