FAQs from Court Reporters for Remote Depos via Zoom
Do I need special equipment?
You need to make sure you have:
1. A sufficiently fast internet connection (see minimum requirements below)
2. A computer or device to run zoom on
Most modern computers and devices (e.g. an iPad) already come with a camera, a microphone, and speakers that work well for most people. However, if your device doesn't have a built-in camera and microphone, you will need to purchase those separately.
What bandwidth do I need for Zoom?
Zoom lists their system requirements here and you can compare against your own bandwidth by running a speed test here. Please note the number shown on that test is your download speed. To find your upload speed, you'll want click to on "Show More Info" to see what your upload speed is. Don't be surprised if your download speed is much higher than your upload speed, that is normal.
How do I join from my computer and phone and show up as one participant?
When joining via your computer and phone call, participants may often show up as two different people in a Zoom meeting. We encourage all participants that are joining from multiple devices to enter their participant ID when dialing in via a phone call to ensure that they only show up as one participant. Zoom does all the heavy lifting here and joins the video feed from your computer to the audio feed from you phone call into one participant in the Zoom meeting for everyone else to see.
Do I need a Zoom account?
You do not need a Zoom account if you are only participating in the zoom conference. If you would like to set up your own Zoom meetings, you will need one.
Isn’t it better to listen to the audio on a phone line?
This depends on if you are connecting via a cell phone or a home landline, and how fast your internet is. Some people have a better internet connection than their cell service, so in that case connecting via phone may not be better. In other cases, if you do have a landline phone, oftentimes that can provide a more stable audio connection.
Is there a generic background I can set?
Zoom does have a feature that allows you to change your background. However, for all depositions being hosted by Steno, we intentionally disable this feature to ensure the video that's being captured isn't being digitally manipulated.
I had a message for a second that popped up saying my internet connection is unstable. What would I need to do to correct that?
If this happens, or if you are connecting from a place with a slower internet connection, we recommend calling into the conference from your phone, so that in a worst-case scenario if the internet connection isn't as stable, you'll still be able to hear everything.
If we have a speaker that's paired to our cell phone, we would be muting the Zoom audio; correct?
You could technically mute the speaker/microphone which would block your voice from coming through, but you would appear to be unmuted on zoom. We'd recommend just using Zoom to mute yourself so then others can see that you're muted as well.
Can we use separate audio via speakerphone?
You definitely can. Sometimes you can get better quality by using a speakerphone. If you're unsure, we'd be happy to set up a test Zoom meeting with anyone to test their normal setup vs. a setup that uses a speakerphone.
Can the end-user record the Zoom session from their device to obtain their own copy?
We disable the ability for end-users to use the native Zoom functionality to record on their own.
What additional equipment is required for participants who request realtime?
They just need a web browser to be able to go to the URL you provide to them at the beginning of the depo for them to see the realtime feed. In practice, we've seen the realtime information provided via the chat, but if not everyone orders it, then it can be provided via e-mail directly to the participants.
However, if they want a realtime feed, we would recommend that they join by a laptop instead of a phone or tablet as it will be easier to see everything in one view.
During Deposition Questions
What are most reporters saying to make sure all parties are agreeing to a remote deposition?
Below is what most reporters are using to make sure everyone is agreeing to a remote deposition.
1 THE COURT REPORTER: Good morning /
2 afternoon. My name is [CSR NAME]. I am a
3 California Certified Stenographic Reporter. My CSR
4 Number is [CSR NUMBER].
5 Today's date is [DAY, DATE], and the time
6 is approximately [TIME A.M. / P.M.]
7 This is the deposition of [WITNESS NAME] in
8 the matter of [CASE NAME - Smith vs. Jones]. This
9 case is venued in the Superior Court of the State
10 California for the County of Los Angeles. The Case
11 Number is [CASE NUMBER].
12 At this time, I will ask counsel to
13 identify yourselves and whom you represent and agree
14 on the record that there is no objection to this
15 deposition officer administering a binding oath to
16 the witness by [ZOOM / TELEPHONICALLY /
18 Please state your agreement on the record,
19 starting with the noticing attorney.
How are exhibits introduced?
All exhibits are shared using the chat feature during the deposition via files that are hosted in the cloud. At the conclusion of the deposition, Steno will send a transcript of the chat conversation to the court reporter, who will take the links from the chat and attach them to the transcript. Steno also recommends to the attorneys at the end of the deposition to introduce the Zoom chat as an exhibit.
We have had a lot of questions around this specific topic, and we'll be creating more content to address the specifics for how this can be done.
Why do we recommend uploading exhibits to a secure online document platform vs. just screen sharing them?
A few reasons:
1. By making the document available in the chat thread, everyone can view it natively on their own device. This is important because sometimes a witness needs to be able to look through hundreds of pages of an exhibit to show something, and that's not easily possible if someone is just sharing their screen.
2. By using a secure online document repository that has a full audit log, and shutting off upload capability to that repository as soon as the deposition is done, you can ensure that the original file that was uploaded is still the original and it wasn't tampered with after the deposition was completed.
How should original exhibits be handled?
Whether or not original exhibits should end up in the original transcript is at the discretion of the attorney providing the exhibits. Since most exhibits will be electronically submitted prior to the deposition, these can be handled as any other exhibit that is scanned in and sent to us while never receiving the original physical copy. Or likewise, with exhibits, we need to scan and send back to the witness, where we treat the scans as the originals.
If preferred we can handle exhibits we receive in an electronic fashion as originals and the source can maintain their physical copies. However, if there is a request for the physical original exhibits to be in the original copy of the transcript, please reach out and we will give you the address to send those to ensure they end up in the right place.
How about marking exhibits?
If you are one of the many who have been concerned about marking all the digital exhibits being passed around, we are here to help. In order to remove all the issues that court reporters might have with either getting physical stamps on the exhibits or finding a way to digitally add them, we've decided to take on this responsibility with our own custom stamp.
All that needs to be done by the court reporter is confirm which exhibit numbers belong with which exhibits and we will go ahead and make sure they are all appropriately marked.
For information about our signature videoconferencing platform, Depos from a Distance™, designed specifically for remote depositions, see here.