Say there’s an expert witness in your case who can’t attend trial. Should you pay extra to record his deposition by video to play to the jury? Absolutely. Jurors form opinions about witnesses based on how they look and talk, not just what’s written in a transcript. Small details matter, including how a person dresses, if he makes eye contact, and whether he fidgets in his chair. Facial expressions, squints, long pauses, and periods of silence simply can’t be written down in a transcript, but are essential to determine witness’ credibility.
Since 1996, the Georgia code permits recording of depositions by video without a court order. Georgia Code Sect. 9-11-30(b)(4). There are a few qualifications to the rule:
- The deposition must also be stenographically recorded (by a court reporter).
- The appearance or demeanor of deponents or attorneys shall not be distorted through camera or sound-recording techniques.
- The deposing party must notify the deponent that the testimony will be recorded on video in the notice of deposition.
- The party taking the deposition bears the cost of reporting.
Hiring a videographer is an expense, but if you do plan to record the deposition by video, don’t scrimp. Find a videographer who is experienced with depositions. A professional background, excellent lighting, and a clear voice recording are essential. A poor quality video recording can potentially do more harm than good, as jurors are used to television-quality production.