The telephone deposition is something you want to get right the first time! Not being able to see the parties involved can be tricky... a court reporter has to listen closely for any voice changes as well as catch mistakes as quickly as possible. Lawyers have to make sure that a great connection is established and that all legal issues pertaining to a telephone deposition has been strategically taken care of.
However, sometimes a telephone deposition just can't be avoided. More than likely a lawyer and court reporter will be faced with one during the course of their careers. One of the most common reason for telephone depositions or testimonies is because witnesses are not able to travel due to a physical illness or limitations. Regardless, it's important that court reporters and lawyers understand the pros and cons of telephone depositions just in case you are ever put in that situation.
The bad side of telephone depositions are many. The first is the possibility of a lost connection, equipment failure, or a malfunction. Malfunctions can include static, the inability of hearing the person talking or even a disconnection. To prevent this from happening the connection should be tested and all parties should attempt to be online at least 10 minutes before the call starts to make sure that everything is working properly.
Other problems with telephone depositions include the possibility of court reporters making mistakes because they can't hear or the witness making mistakes because they can't hear either. Lastly, and most obviously, is the fact that not being able to see body language is actually a huge disadvantage, especially when attempting to portray as much information on the transcript as possible... and also for lawyers to be able to change a question based on something the witness does.
Although there are certainly some precautions to consider when organizing a telephone deposition, there are some benefits as well. Some of these benefits include the ability for lawyers to get a great testimony form the witnesses because opposing counsel cannot harass them.
Lastly, it reduces the cost of travel for everyone involved and allows lawyers to control witnesses.
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