There are a few important parts of the process that will be involved in any kind of deposition, and the swearing in of witnesses is a great example. And while most are well aware of how the basic swearing-in process will work for in-person depositions, what about remote or video depositions where the proceedings are being carried out virtually?
At Phoenix Deposition Services, it’s our pleasure to provide a wide range of quality court reporter services for various depositions and hearings, including video conferencing and several related remote options for those who are proceeding in this manner. There are a few important themes to be considering if you’re an attorney involved in a remote deposition, and knowing how the swearing-in process will take place could be among them. Here are some basic concepts and procedures to keep in mind for such situations.
Why Swearing In Witnesses Matters
Why is it important for witnesses to be sworn in? Some may simply answer this question with, “Because it’s the law,” but there’s more to it than that. In order for testimony to be admissible in court, the witness needs to be under oath. This is done in order to ensure that the information being given is truthful and not fabricated or exaggerated in any way.
When a witness is sworn in during a deposition, they are essentially promising to tell the truth under penalty of perjury. This means that if they are caught lying, they could be subject to criminal charges. The oath is taken seriously, and witnesses will usually be reminded of this before they begin their testimony.
During the resulting deposition, every word said by a witness will be carefully transcribed by professionals like our Phoenix court reporters. If there are any discrepancies or concerns later on, the exact testimony can be looked back at and referenced as needed.
Our next few sections will look at how swearing-in works for remote depositions, and what must be done to ensure this process is carried out legally.
Recording Method and Noticing Obligations
When it comes to remote hearings and their contents, there are a few “noticing obligations” that court reporters and other professionals will need to be aware of. In basic terms, this means that everyone involved must be given proper notice of the hearing and its recording method at least 24 hours in advance.
This is a pretty straightforward concept when it comes to video depositions, as all participants will simply be told to log into the conference at the appropriate time and date. The process is a bit more complicated for those who are using telephone depositions, as the court reporter will need to set up a 3-way call with all participants.
Noticing obligations also apply to Skype and FaceTime depositions, although the specifics may vary depending on which state the case is being tried in. In some cases, all participants may need to provide their user names and contact information to the court reporter in advance.
Generally speaking, the transcript of a given remote deposition will contain a simple text that notes the recording method and all noticing obligations that were met.
Court Reporters and Read-On Language
When it comes time for the actual swearing-in process, court reporters play a major role. They will generally be the officers administering the binding oaths to witnesses in these settings.
This is done via a sworn statement or “read-on” language, which the witness will be asked to read aloud before beginning their testimony. The court reporter will then ask the witness if they understand the statement and are willing to comply with its terms.
The specific wording of this language may vary from state to state and even from hearing to hearing, but the general gist will be the same. The witness will need to agree to tell the truth, and they will need to understand the penalties they may face if they choose to lie under oath.
In addition, however, remote hearings will typically require that the witness state their agreement with being held to a binding oath via phone, internet or whatever other recording method is being used. This helps to ensure that the witness understands they are still under oath even though they are not physically present in the same room as the court reporter.
Swearing in the Witness
Once all of this has been established, the court reporter will then administer the oath itself. The witness will be asked to raise their right hand and repeat after the reporter — first, they may also be reminded that they’re still under oath, and that this oath carries the exact same weight and penalties as an in-person oath.
After that, they will be asked to repeat the read-on language verbatim. Once this has been done, the witness’ testimony may begin. Again, it’s important to note that the specific wording of this oath may vary depending on which state the case is being tried in.
However, the overall process will be more or less the same regardless of where the deposition is taking place. So long as all noticing obligations have been met and the witness has been accurately sworn in, the resulting testimony should be just as legally binding as if it had been given in person.
If any technical issues arise during this, it should be noted that time spent resolving them count toward limits on deposition time, which are usually seven hours.
For more on the process of swearing in witnesses for remote depositions, or to learn about the services our Phoenix court reporters can offer in several distinct areas, speak to our team at Phoenix Deposition Services today.