Dealing with frustrating or intentionally difficult witnesses is always one of the less enjoyable parts of an attorney’s job during a deposition hearing, and these problems can be exacerbated in some cases during remote hearings. Lack of in-person contact may allow witnesses to behave even more unusually than they could in a typical courtroom setting, and attorneys need to come prepared for this sort of thing.
At Phoenix Deposition Services, we’re happy to offer a wide range of video deposition services and other remote solutions for attorneys and their clients. Our team plays a valuable role in ensuring that all remote deposition information is properly recorded and can be referred to, serving as a major resource for attorneys in several ways. What are some examples of good approaches we’ve seen attorneys take with tough witnesses during a videoconference deposition, and what do we recommend down these lines? This two-part blog series will go over everything you should know.
Changing Your Approach
The first important theme here is evaluating your typical approach to witnesses during a deposition, then deciding if any changes are necessary for remote hearings. The attorney-witness relationship is usually quite different in videoconference depositions, so attempting to maintain the same level of rapport you’re used to having with witnesses under your direct supervision may actually create more problems than before.
For example, repeatedly badgering a difficult witness during an in-person deposition may actually have a strong impact in some cases, but this is likely to be less effective during a remote hearing given that you are unable to speak face-to-face. Therefore, attorneys should consider modifying their approach toward these witnesses before they begin questioning them in order to get better results.
One major adjustment area is within the realm of visual cues, which should be used to their full extent during video depositions in order to get witnesses to provide more useful information. This may sound like common sense, but attorneys should try to maintain at least some physical contact with their clients while speaking with them on audio visual conference calls. Eye contact, body language and even posture will all help express your points to the other people involved.
Videoconference depositions can be unfamiliar to some witnesses, including in technological areas, so it’s important to give clear, straightforward directions about what the witness should do and how he or she should interact with your team before you begin questioning them. We recommend going over this information briefly by phone during a pre-deposition conference call before each witness hearing, as it will help clarify expectations and prevent the need for regular re-explaining during the deposition itself. If the witness has any questions or concerns, particularly regarding video elements like how to position themselves for the camera or how loudly to speak, these should be addressed ahead of time.
For more on handling tougher witnesses during a videoconference deposition, or to learn about any of our Phoenix court reporters and the services we provide, speak to the staff at Phoenix Deposition Services today.