Skype Depositions—Trading Quality for Technology in the Courtroom

As technology floods the world, convenience has become the high ground for many. Instead of working to make things better, they stay put—without realizing they’re drowning.

No, this isn’t a rant against technology. Technological changes have done wonderful things to improve our lives and even to strengthen the administration of justice. Advanced technology has had a huge impact on forensics and information-gathering for police, lawyers, and the judiciary. The Internet has made finding information and precedents easier, while analytical technologies have improved evidence collection. Even camera phones have proved useful in police arrests.

That doesn’t mean every technological advance can be—or should be—adopted without careful thinking. Sometimes technology can hurt more than help. One of these instances is the convenience of the video chat.

Dick Tracy’s Video Watch Doesn’t Belong in the Courtroom

Frustrating-video-chatMillions of  people worldwide use video chat applications like FaceTime or Skype to communicate with friends and family. Soldiers use video chat to connect with their families while deployed. Companies use it to confer with associates out of the office. It’s a convenient way to stay in touch.

These apps are a godsend for those who wish to speak face-to-face with someone who is otherwise out of reach. As a result of this technology, more and more courts are allowing lawyers to take depositions via Skype. There are three motivations usually cited to justify this rush to video chat:

  • It’s convenient. It’s argued that easier for deponents to Skype their depositions than having to come in for an interview—especially if the person being questioned is out of the state or based outside the United States.
  • It’s cheaper. Lawyers don’t have to pay for deponents to travel to them for the interview, or to arrange to hire complex video deposition equipment, meeting room space, and personnel at both ends of the communication line.
  • It’s faster. Since a Skype conference is immediate, there is no need to wait for processing to begin coordinating discovery requests.

These reasons are all well and good if your only purpose is to get the deposition over with and save a little money while you’re at it. However, if you want to serve your client respectfully and securely, Skype isn’t the way to go.

The Benefits of a Dedicated Video Deposition Service

At Casamo and Associates we take video depositions very seriously. We don’t believe something as important as a deposition should be treated the same way as a Happy Birthday message. This is why we provide high-quality services for depositions, using state-of-the-art technology and equipment. This allows us to ensure what Skype cannot:

  • Accuracy. We have applications designed specifically for remote depositions to ensure that nothing is misunderstood or lost in translation.
  • Reliability. Our software is specially designed to decrease background noise pollution in order to produce clear images and sound. Can Skype make that guarantee?
  • Security. In addition to ensuring the deponents rights are being upheld, we also guarantee the presence of a court reporter to make sure all information is accurately transcribed and protected. Online applications like Skype are easily accessed and can be manipulated. Our services aren’t.

So, what do you think: is Skype worth the hype?

Is Convenience Worth Throwing Away Quality?

There’s no disputing that setting up and recording a FaceTime interview is a whole lot more convenient than having to schedule an actual sit-down video deposition. It’s also a lot more comfortable: the deponent could give his statement in his own home while wearing pajamas.

The question you must consider: is convenience really worth jeopardizing your case? Will the jury be impressed by an international scholar’s testimony from a fellow in a bathrobe, reproduced from a tiny Skype image? Will your client thank you later for putting your faith into a Skype message?

Let us know how you feel about Skype depositions. Do you feel they’re worth the potential problems, or do you think video messaging like this should stay out of the courtroom? Please, leave your opinions and concerns in the comment section provided. We’re extremely interested in learning how you feel is the best way to take a deposition.

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