The old saying is true – a picture is worth a thousand words. Did you know more than 40% of juries are now made up of Generation Xs and Ys, and these individuals are more inclined to respond to multi-sensory stimulation? Jurors from any generation understand and retain more information when it is presented in a method that extends beyond the verbal or written form.
When you combine the transcript with the video, it is extremely powerful and is vitally important in today’s courtroom. Video synching is the process of synchronizing the reported testimony with the recorded video. The final result enables the jury, opposing counsel, the judge, and all spectators to a trial or arbitration to see the deponent while simultaneously reading the text.
One of the main reasons attorneys elect to synchronize the transcript with the video is to impeach a witness. If a witness testifies differently at trial than he did at his deposition, it is easy to pull out the testimony that was contradicted through a simple process. Showing the difference in testimony in a matter of seconds can make a powerful impression on the judge and jury.
I recently heard an attorney tell a story regarding his reason for using a video synched deposition at mediation. He said, rather than harangue the mediator and the other side with an argument about why his client was right, he presented documents and clips from a video synced deposition to make his point. This was much more compelling than a verbal argument.
Another reason why an attorney may opt to use a video synced deposition is when a witness is hard to understand because of an accent or other language barriers. At a recent trial, one of the deponents was not present at trial and the videotaped deposition was played in lieu of his live testimony. This particular witness had a very heavy accent and the testimony was of a technical nature. Having the video synched enabled the jury to look at the words when they had any trouble understanding what the witness was saying. This kept the jury engaged during the playback and enabled them to understand the testimony in a more meaningful way.
Another powerful forum for a video synched deposition is in mediation hearings or settlement conferences. All it takes is one answer or one area of testimony that may just give you the ammunition you need for settlement. Is it enough to attach the transcript to a motion or to walk into the conference with the printed testimony? Or do you gain an advantage by using clips from a video to show the person testifying a certain way? Opposing counsel may encourage his client to settle if the video testimony is unfavorable. Using a video synced deposition can speed things along and can often provide many favorable outcomes.
Given the benefits of using synchronized video depositions, I encourage its use whenever a videotaped deposition is taken. The cost to sync a video is minimal compared to the benefits. It is a persuasive tool and one that every lawyer should consider.
Lisa Hipp, founder of Visual Advantage, a consulting service and litigation support firm in Denver, had this to say about the use of technology in a courtroom, “As newer generations become more active in the legal process, it is important for attorneys to stay ahead of the curve and understand how the use of technology and visual triggers can give them an advantage in the courtroom.” Now, who wouldn’t love to have the “upper hand” in trial?
Shelly Hunter, RPR, CRR
Hunter + Geist