Are Video Depositions Public Record?

February 25, 2021 12:08 am Published by Leave your thoughts

As an attorney, you might feel like depositions are part and parcel of the whole lawyer gig—if something becomes public record, you’re used to it. If you’re a witness, however, it can be a lot scarier. Anytime a witness is giving testimony under oath, they have a lot of pressure to say and do “the right thing,” knowing it could impact their or someone else’s life. On top of that, the testimony witnesses give might be embarrassing, painful, traumatic or otherwise negative. It’s reasonable for them to worry about whether legal video depositions in Phoenix, AZ become part of the public record.

Luckily for your clients, depositions (whether video or text) are not usually made part of the public record, unless they’re entered into testimony during trial. Since most civil cases are settled out of court, there’s a good chance that the deposition testimony will never make it past the attorneys and judge.

However, that doesn’t mean depositions are completely secure. Here’s what to tell your clients if they ask what happens to video depositions.

Can other people watch the deposition?

Legal depositions are the property of the lawyer who called for them, not the court. Generally, the only people who will see a deposition are the people privy to discovery in the case: the attorneys and the judge, plus the court reporter or videographer.

Video depositions are not considered evidence in the case, for the public record, unless the deposition is entered into evidence during the trial. Otherwise, if the case is settled, it’s sealed with the other evidence.

What are the legal protections involved?

If a deposition is sensitive for some reason, an attorney can file protective orders and stipulations to protect that evidence from the public view. These usually happen before the deposition—so opposing counsel can’t ask about these sensitive topics—but sometimes confidential information is revealed anyway. In that case, your attorney will take measures to protect the deposition from becoming public, in whole or in part.

What happens if the client says something “wrong”?

Many clients fear that they’ll say something “wrong” when questioned, and it will be used against them forever. They’re not exactly incorrect in thinking that. Depositions are conducted under oath and can be used to impeach a witness on the stand during trial. However, it’s also very easy to misspeak during testimony, and that can be corrected. Depending on the state, there is usually a 30-day period to call back the witness and have them correct their statement. If that isn’t applicable, your attorney should be able to file for protections to exclude sensitive or confidential information.

As an attorney, you have a big job: protecting your client, getting the best facts from the testimony and weaving them into your case. Don’t forget the human element, however. Making sure your witness is comfortable can go a long way toward getting the results you want.

For video depositions in Phoenix, AZ, contact the team at Bartelt | Nix Reporting, LLC today.

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