Information regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Guidelines: Depositions by Videoconference
The following guidelines are offered to Oklahoma trial judges who may have attorneys wishing to conduct depositions by videoconference. These guidelines are being distributed to all trial judges and to the Chair and Vice Chair of the Litigation Section of the Oklahoma Bar Association.
- Rule 34, titled Videoconferencing in the District Courts, authorizes the use of videoconferencing in all stages of civil or criminal proceedings. See Paragraph A.10, District Court Rule 34, Title 12, Chapter 2, Appendix.
- If all parties are in agreement, they may request approval from the trial judge to conduct a deposition using videoconference. Counsel should present their agreed plan to the judge for approval and indicate that all participants stipulate to the proposed procedure.
- The provisions of Rule 34 shall generally apply, including the authority for administering oaths remotely.
- With the increased traffic on local internet networks, videoconferencing may be unreliable in some locations. An occasional “glitch” or delay in the audio or video connection should not be deemed fatal to the overall validity of the proceeding.
- Barring exceptional circumstances, in a video deposition the Court Reporter should be able to see and hear the witness and the lawyer conducting the primary examination. However, if other counsel in the matter are unable to connect via video, the trial judge may authorize those participants to listen and make routine objections via an audio-only connection. Depositions where a large number of exhibits will be used, or where substantial objections or argument of counsel are anticipated, are NOT suitable for audio-only participation.
Also, please be aware of paragraph C of 12 O.S. §3230, which provides authority for depositions taken by means OTHER than stenographic reporting, and also provides for telephonic depositions. Paragraph C.6 states:
- The parties may stipulate in writing or the court may upon motion order that a deposition be taken by telephone or other remote electronic means. For the purposes of this section, subsection A of Section 3228, and paragraphs 1 of subsections A and B of Section 3237of this title, a deposition taken by such means is taken in the county and state and at the place where the deponent is to answer questions.
PRACTICAL “HOW TO” INFORMATION FOR VIDEO DEPOS:
Note - we cannot endorse or officially sponsor a particular video platform. This information is provided merely as a resource. Your local attorneys or reporters may find this useful. Other platforms may also be quite suitable for this purpose.
- It is our understanding that many court reporters are using Zoom as a way to do remote depositions. Also, RingCentral (part of the Ring security company) has similar functionality as Zoom.
- A court reporting firm in California posted a webinar on March 21, where they explain using Zoom for depositions, along with a mock deposition showing how they instruct the participants, deal with exhibits, swear in the witness, etc.
- Webinar by Steno “How Court Reporters Can Prepare for and Take Remote Depositions” using Zoom (video)
- It is our understanding that there’s also a function of Zoom (and RingCentral) where the attorney and witness/client can exit the deposition “room” and enter a private breakout room and then return to the depo room after conferring.
- No additional equipment is required to participate in a Zoom video deposition (and possibly RingCentral) - most people have a mobile device that allows them to access the proceeding.