There are times when you have a deponent far away and it’s not worth traveling there and it’s not worth the cost of a videoconference. It’s a quick and easy deposition so you decide to conduct the deposition by telephone. Great. But your court reporter is shaking in her pretty pumps.
Her first fear is that there won’t be a speaker phone at the location. Sounds obvious, but you would be surprised how often this critical step is overlooked. Many times folks forget that a court reporter can’t hold a phone to their ear AND write on their steno machine at the same time. And then someone gets the bright idea to use their cell phone speaker. Can we tell you how difficult it is to hear and understand at the level a court reporter needs to hear and understand from a cell phone speaker? She’ll be interrupting and annoying and the record will reflect that. Make sure there is a speaker phone at the location and you’ll create a better record.
Second fear: Everyone calling in from different numbers. Trying to have each party dial in separately can not only be a disaster but may not even be possible. Many phone systems do not have this capability. Best to just deal with it ahead of time rather than having everyone ready to start the deposition and be unable to connect. Set up a conference call and distribute the dial-in information to everyone ahead of time and you’ll have better-quality audio.
Third, depending on the state, the court reporter may need to be in the presence of the deponent in order to administer the oath. Pennsylvania is one of those states. This applies to not only telephone depositions but videoconference and webcam depositions as well. No one wants to hear the court reporter say, sorry, I’m unable to swear in the witness because they are there and I am here. Your options are to hire a court reporter who can go to the witness’s location or hire your local court reporter and also hire a notary public who can go to the witness’s location and administer the oath.
And the final fear is being clueless; not knowing who is participating and not knowing who is speaking. You may know who everyone is and who is speaking but it’s all new for the court reporter. Send a notice beforehand so she has all the information she needs. When conducting the deposition, remember to identify yourself before you begin speaking and be extra cautious not to speak over one another. A brief pause before speaking is a great technique to use when participating in a telephone deposition.
Taking care of these issues will not only create a better record and help your telephone deposition go smoothly but your court reporter won’t feel like she’s stepping into a horror movie.