Guide To Legal Video - Chapter 1: What Is Legal Video?
Legal video is audio and visual documentation of witness testimony, which are called depositions. Witness depositions are legal proceedings during which attorneys question the witness in a legal environment that is outside of a courtroom. A judge is not present, however the rules for that jurisdiction must be followed.
Depositions can take place in any number of environments. The most common place to take witness testimony will typically be at an attorney’s office in one of their conference rooms.
However, a legal videographer will often be called upon to film testimony in doctor’s offices, nursing homes, personal residences, business offices, hotels, and even prisons.
Legal videographry is more of an extension of court reporting than it is a creative video endeavor. The witness testimony that you film may be introduced as evidence at a trial. Simply put, your job as a legal videographer is to record this info accurately. Legal video plays a very important role during a trial, since not all witnesses are able to attend in person. Playing video instead of reading a transcript allows a jury to see the witness’s emotions and expressions adding impact and power to their testimony.
There are several reasons why an attorney may take the deposition of a witness. Often, depending on the witness’s circumstances, he or she may not be able to appear in court during trial. Taking the witness’s deposition under oath in a legal environment makes their testimony a legal document that can then be presented in court.
Another reason for taking a deposition, is that it gives the opposing attorney a chance to see what a witness may or may not know before they go to trial. It also can give an attorney a good idea of how that witness will come across at trial. For instance, will this person look credible to a jury?
Depositions can be taken for any type of case. Most will involve personal injury or some type of medical malpractice. Other types that you will tend to see on a regular basis will be wrongful termination, wrongful death, insurance fraud, and property damage.
WHO IS PRESENT?
During a deposition, there can be a number of people in the room. Most commonly, the witness will be present, along with their attorney. The plaintiff’s attorney will be present as well. Often, there will be a paralegal or legal assistant in the room. Then finally, the court reporter and legal videographer are present as well. If it is a large case, each side may be represented by several attorneys.
Depending on the location of the deposition and an attorneys schedule and travel considerations, some of the attorneys may choose to appear by telephone or videoconference.
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