The production of legal deposition video is best entrusted to a professional certified legal videographer who is knowledgeable in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Federal Rules of Evidence as the rules apply to visual evidence to be introduced at trial. The certified legal videographer who has passed the regimen of instruction, tests and evaluations and has been vetted by the National Court Reporters Association (CLVS program) and/or the American Guild of Court Videographers (CCVS program) are most qualified to produce unimpeachable legal video evidence.
Anyone can take a video camera and record a deponent under oath, however, unless you know what you’re doing and following the compliant steps that video will surely be thrown out of court. Ask yourself the following questions before hiring a legal videographer in New York, New Jersey or wherever you may need to hire a legal videographer:
Did the videographer provide a proper read-in introduction on the record? Did the videographer have a proper shot of the deponent that would not prejudice the jury? Did the videographer have a properly positioned date/time stamp on the video? Did the videographer properly manage and maintain the chain of evidence? Did the videographer properly record a log of the deposition? Did the videographer certify the recording? If more than one device was used to record the deposition, was the date/time stamp properly down-streamed? Was the deponent properly recorded taking the oath? Was the audio record clear throughout the on-record testimony? Did the videographer properly prepare the format of the recording in compliance with the deposing counsel’s request for the deliverable? Is the original recording preserved and certified? Did the videographer conduct himself or herself impartially? Did the videographer conduct himself or herself befitting an officer of the court? The list goes on but the answer to all of the above should be yes.
Some states, but not all, require the legal videographer to be a duly certified notary public. California is one such state. It is important, if the legal videographer travels that he or she understands the local rules and whether there is reciprocal recognition of the credentials they bear from their home state. Similarly, the legal videographer must recognize any orders of the court or stipulations regarding the governance of the deposition.
It is important that the legal videographer, be it in New York, New Jersey, California, or elsewhere be aware that the intended destination of the video is presentation at trial and therefore the video product must not only be of the highest visual quality but the audio quality must be equally outstanding. The legal videographer must be properly equipped to ensure that the subject deponent is well illuminated and that any exhibits – especially diagrams, x-rays, CT-scans, MRI’s, transparencies, photographs, charts or objects – are clearly displayed.
Extra effort should be taken to ensure that the audio is clear for all parties making an appearance on the record in a legal deposition. This means that everyone who will be on the record is individually lavaliered. If omni-directional lavalieres are used audio filtration may be necessary to reduce unwanted ambient noise and hiss from air conditioners and ventilators. The legal videographer should be prepared for all contingencies.
The Notice of Deposition provides the first basis for understanding what should be involved technically. The location, time, venue, case caption, deposing attorney and counsel who are noticed will all appear thereon. The next step is for the legal videographer to ask questions that will further advise him or her on proper preparation for the deposition. As my mentor, Dr. Gayle Marquette, Founder of the AGCV, often taught me: “We know not because we ask not.” It is the best rule of thumb that a legal videographer can observe. I have found that it is an equally good rule to apply in every other area of life. You really have to know what you’re preparing for. This is true no matter where the deposition is held: locally, regionally, nationally or internationally.