This outlines the process Steno follows for remote depositions
A video showing the highlights of the process from beginning to end can be found here:
A remote deposition has the following phases:
- Training & Setup (Pre-Depo)
- Deposition Occurs (Depo)
- Production & Delivery of Materials (Post-Depo)
Training & Setup (Pre-Depo)
We know and understand that there are often parties to a deposition who may not have experience using audio-video conferencing solutions. The purpose of this step is to make sure that everyone's technology is working as expected, everyone understands how exhibit sharing works, and generally making everyone as comfortable as possible with the technology before the deposition starts.
This phase is broken down into 4 steps:
- Pre-Deposition Coordination
- Pre-Deposition Technical Assistance
- Exhibit Preparation
- Deposition Moderation
All depostion participants should be invited to the deposition via an email that includes a link and code to join the Zoom meeting. The link will open an internet browser and subsequently open the Zoom app. You will need to input the code to join the meeting.
Pre-Deposition Technical Assistance
For all of the parties who are attending the deposition, we give the ability to book a short training session with us where we will walk the participants through joining a Zoom conference, navigating the interface, and ensuring quality audio and video.
If this technical assistance is for the Taking Attorney, this is also a good time to educate them on how to share their screen or share exhibits if they want to do that.
This is where we will work with the Taking Attorney to obtain all of their exhibits ahead of time. We load the exhibits into a cloud document repository to enable them to easily share the exhibits during the deposition. We can either let them do this directly where they can upload the exact files they want, or we can do this on their behalf if advance notice is given.
We send out a meeting invite that starts 30 minutes prior to the deposition start time, and we highly encourage all participants to join early. During this time, we do a check to make sure everyone's audio and video quality is working as expected, and if a participant needs to switch to a phone line for better audio quality (or to an internet line if they have poor cell service on their phone), we will walk them through that.
The purpose of this step is to make everyone feel as comfortable as possible with the remote technology.
Once all parties have arrived, the remote deposition moderator (in our case, a representative from Steno) will read the following to introduce themselves:
My name is [name] and I’m the meeting moderator from Steno. I work at the court reporting agency that was hired by [Taking Attorney Firm] to help facilitate this deposition. Please note: this meeting will be recorded in its entirety. Please think about attending this video conference no differently than you would think about being in a conference room in person with a group of people. Anything that you say or do can be seen and heard by everyone else on the call. We remind you to either leave the videoconference altogether or to mute your microphone or video at any point that you require privacy.
And then a reminder about their role:
My job is to make sure that every one that is on the call is set up properly prior to this deposition starting so that there aren’t any issues. If we do everything right during this phase, then this deposition should mirror what happens when the parties are in the same room together. I’m going to walk everyone through our checklist that won’t take more than a few minutes. We are going to cover two things. First, I am going to give some general recommendations. Second, we are going to cover the basics of Zoom so that everyone is on the same page. This will all happen OFF the record and once everyone is set up and going I will leave the call, but I will leave contact information in the chat thread in case any issues come up.
Checklist to Review with Each Participant:
- Make sure they can turn video on
- Make sure they can toggle between Gallery View and Speaker View
- Make sure they can navigate to see other people in gallery view on mobile
- Make sure they can navigate to chat and put your contact info into chat so that others know how to contact you if there’s a problem. Confirm that everyone received it.
- Have the TA share the test PDF in chat and make sure people can both read it and get to page two
- Confirm the reporter has the exhibit list emailed to them so that they can follow along
And then give general recommendations:
1st, general recommendations. To help the court reporter get a clear and accurate record, we ask that everyone speak loud enough so that your microphone can pick up your audio. We encourage everyone to turn on their video AND put your face in view of the camera, as it makes it easier for the reporter to understand exactly who is talking at any given time. Voices can often sound the same and it is much easier to identify who is talking or objecting when there are mouth movements that match to a voice. If your video isn't on yet, we will walk through how to do that in a second. Please keep in mind, because this is a video call that is dependent on audio, there may be cases where the reporter asks for further clarification more often than normal. They may also ask to go off the record if they can't hear you. If you know in advance that your internet connection is not ideal, we encourage you to join via your phone right now. If you're not sure if you have bad wifi you can go to speedtest.net on an internet browser and if your speed is less than 1.5MBps/sec for either upload or download then we recommend calling in now via the phone numbers that were on the meeting invite. If at any point anyone has audio issues they can always join via phone call later too, just use the phone call details in the invite.
Lastly, ensure everyone understands and verbally agree:
Does everyone feel comfortable with the Zoom meeting and do they have everything that they need in order to get started? Can I get a clear and audible yes from everyone on the call one at a time just like you’re in the emergency exit row on an airline. “Ask for Yes’s”. Then, this is also the same way that you’ll need to speak to help the reporter out once we start.
After that, the moderator from Steno will leave, and the deposition will occur like normal.
Deposition Occurs (Depo)
The remote deposition should function similarly to a standard, in-person deposition. However, there are a few key differences:
1. We recommend that the court reporter get both parties to agree to a remote deposition on the record. Suggested language for this is included in the Court Reporter FAQ.
2. Exhibits are now being introduced as a link and named in the chat thread. This requires training the taking attorney on this new process, or potentially their paralegal on how to share their screen to make sure everyone is looking at the same thing.
3. Newly introduced exhibits that occur during the deposition need to be uploaded on the fly and shared in the chat thread. Either the attorney needs to be trained on how to do this, or their paralegal needs to know how to do this.
4. At the end of the deposition, the taking attorney should introduce the chat history from Zoom as an exhibit. That chat history will hold all of the exhibits for the Court Reporter for reference.
Production & Delivery of Materials (Post-Depo)
After the deposition occurs, the Court Reporter will turn in their materials like normal. They will also have full access to the exhibits, and if they want, they can label/stamp the exhibits (which we can prove didn't change after the fact because of an audit log) and then send us the labeled exhibits. Alternatively, if the Court Reporter agrees, then the agency can make sure the exhibits get labeled correctly on their behalf.