Depositions are usually done in person, which can be very useful for reading body language and other subtleties. But when an in-person depo is impractical or prohibitively expensive, a remote deposition can be a useful and cost effective alternative, especially given the availability of free and convenient video conferencing tools like Skype and Zoom.
The usual reason for remote depositions is to save money. It’s cost effective, particularly when deponents are located in other parts of the country. For example:
A case is pending in Los Angeles but a corporate witness is located in Madison, Wisconsin. Rather than spending 2 or 3 full days for travel and attendance at the witness’ deposition in Wisconsin, counsel can take the deposition in 2 hours by video conference and save the clients thousands of dollars.
California law permits a party to conduct an oral deposition of a nonparty by telephone, video conference, or other remote electronic means as long as the court approves after finding good cause and no prejudice to any party. CCP §2025.310.
For depositions of a party, CCP §2025.310(b) it’s required that parties appear in person, but CCP §2016.030 allows parties to stipulate to modify the normal discovery procedures. If you choose to stipulate to a remote deposition of a party, it’s a good idea to submit the stipulation to the court for your judge’s signature given CCP §2025.310’s mandate to secure a court order for remote depositions. It’s also a good idea to send exhibits to each participating attorney and court reporter in advance of a remote deposition, as sending voluminous exhibits through video-conferencing software may be cumbersome.
If you decide to take a remote deposition, including by teleconference, be sure to also do the following (Cal Rules of Ct 3.1010):
- Serve notice of the intent to take the deposition by remote means with the deposition notice or subpoena;
- Arrange for any other party to participate in the same way at the participant’s expense (if the other party gives notice at least three days before the deposition);
- Permit any party to personally attend without giving prior notice; and
- Have the deponent sworn in the presence of the deposition officer or by any other means stipulated to by the parties or ordered by the court.
Get guidance on all aspects of deposition procedures in CEB’s California Civil Discovery Practice, chap 5. For step-by-step procedures from planning the deposition to noticing, preparing, conducting, videorecording, and using the deposition at trial, check out CEB’s Handling Depositions.
Other CEBblog™ posts you may find interesting:
- Tips for Dealing with a Difficult Deponent
- 5 Tips for Preparing Your Witness for Video Deposition
- 5 Steps to Preparing a Deposition Notice
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