Frequently Asked Questions Regarding

Remote Video Depositions

Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure

Do the federal rules (“FRCP”) expressly permit depositions to be conducted by video conference, if the parties consent?

Yes. Rule 30(b)(4) specifies that parties may stipulate to take a deposition by telephone or other remote means.

Is consent always required?

Rule 30(b)(4) also specifies that the court may on motion order a remote deposition.

Must a notary be present during a remote video deposition?

Rule 30(b)(5) normally requires that a deposition be taken before an “officer.” Notaries are certainly a common means of satisfying this requirement. However, Rule 28 authorizes a deposition to be taken before a person designated by the parties under Rule 29(a). Rule 29(a) states that “..a deposition may be taken before any person…and in the manner specified…” Rule 30(b)(5) also prefaces the requirement to conduct a deposition before an “officer,” with the phrase “unless the parties stipulate otherwise.” It would therefore seem possible for parties to stipulate that the remote video deposition will be conducted before a person who is not a notary. Such a stipulation could also address the issue of remote participation by that person. (See, (i) Rule 28(c) which disqualifies certain persons, including employees of a party’s attorney; (ii) Rule 32(d)(2), dealing with waivers of objections to the qualifications of a deposition officer.)

Are there unique formalities under the FRCP applicable to remote video depositions?

Yes. For example, Rule 30(b)(5)(B) specifies that the deposition officer must repeat certain statements on the record “at the beginning of each unit of the recording medium.” Again, the possibility of using stipulations to efficiently address this and similar issues should be considered.

Do the federal rules (“FRCP”) expressly permit video recording of depositions, in lieu of stenography?

Yes. FRCP Rule 30 (b) (3) expressly allows recording a deposition by audiovisual means. (Rule 30 (b) (3), and other rules cited herein are reprinted in full at the end of these Frequently Asked Questions.)

Must a “court reporter” or any other stenographer be present during a video deposition recorded by audiovisual means?

No.

Do the FRCP mandate the preparation of a written transcript of a remote video deposition?

The Rules do not mandate the preparation of a written transcript in all cases. However, Rule 32(c) specifies that, if a party offers deposition testimony as evidence in a trial or hearing, the party must provide a transcript of such testimony. This requirement may be overridden by the court. Stipulations may also be possible.

Selections From the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure

Rule 28. Persons Before Whom Depositions May Be Taken

(a) WITHIN THE UNITED STATES.

(1)In General.Within the United States or a territory or insular possession subject to United States jurisdiction, a deposition must be taken before:

(A) an officer authorized to administer oaths either by federal law or by the law in the place of examination; or

(B) a person appointed by the court where the action is pending to administer oaths and take testimony.

(2)Definition of “Officer.” The term “officer” in Rules 30, 31, and 32 includes a person appointed by the court under this rule or designated by the parties under Rule 29(a).

(c) DISQUALIFICATION. A deposition must not be taken before a person who is any party’s relative, employee, or attorney; who is related to or employed by any party’s attorney; or who is financially interested in the action.

Rule 29. Persons Before Whom Depositions May Be Taken

Unless the court orders otherwise, the parties may stipulate that:

(a) deposition may be taken before any person, at any time or place, on any notice, and in the manner specified—in which event it may be used in the same way as any other deposition; and

(b) other procedures governing or limiting discovery be modified—but a stipulation extending the time for any form of discovery must have court approval if it would interfere with the time set for completing discovery, for hearing a motion, or for trial.

Rule 30. Persons Before Whom Depositions May Be Taken

(b) NOTICE OF THE DEPOSITION; OTHER FORMAL REQUIREMENTS.

(3) Method of Recording.

(A) Method Stated in the Notice. The party who notices the deposition must state in the notice the method for recording the testimony. Unless the court orders otherwise, testimony may be recorded by audio, audiovisual, or stenographic means. The noticing party bears the recording costs. Any party may arrange to transcribe a deposition.

(B) Additional Method. With prior notice to the deponent and other parties, any party may designate another method for recording the testimony in addition to that specified in the original notice. That party bears the expense of the additional record or transcript unless the court orders otherwise.

(4) By Remote Means. The parties may stipulate—or the court may on motion order—that a deposition be taken by telephone or other remote means. For the purpose of this rule and Rules 28(a), 37(a)(2), and 37(b)(1), the deposition takes place where the deponent answers the questions.

(5) Officer’s Duties.

(A) Before the Deposition.Unless the parties stipulate otherwise, a deposition must be conducted before an officer appointed or designated under Rule 28. The officer must begin the deposition with an on-the-record statement that includes:

(i) the officer’s name and business address;

(ii) the date, time, and place of the deposition;

(iii) the deponent’s name;

(iv) the officer’s administration of the oath or affirmation to the deponent; and

(v) the identity of all persons present.

(B) Conducting the Deposition; Avoiding Distortion. If the deposition is recorded nonstenographically, the officer must repeat the items in Rule 30(b)(5)(A)(i)–(iii) at the beginning of each unit of the recording medium. The deponent’s and attorneys’ appearance or demeanor must not be distorted through recording techniques.

(C) After the Deposition. At the end of a deposition, the officer must state on the record that the deposition is complete and must set out any stipulations made by the attorneys about custody of the transcript or recording and of the exhibits, or about any other pertinent matters.

(f) CERTIFICATION AND DELIVERY; EXHIBITS; COPIES OF THE TRANSCRIPT OR RECORDING; FILING.

(1) Certification and Delivery. The officer must certify in writing that the witness was duly sworn and that the deposition accurately records the witness’s testimony. The certificate must accompany the record of the deposition. Unless the court orders otherwise, the officer must seal the deposition in an envelope or package bearing the title of the action and marked “Deposition of [witness’s name]” and must promptly send it to the attorney who arranged for the transcript or recording. The attorney must store it under conditions that will protect it against loss, destruction, tampering, or deterioration.

Rule 32. Persons Before Whom Depositions May Be Taken

(c) FORM OF PRESENTATION. Unless the court orders otherwise, a party must provide a transcript of any deposition testimony the party offers, but may provide the court with the testimony in nontranscript form as well. On any party’s request, deposition testimony offered in a jury trial for any purpose other than impeachment must be presented in nontranscript form, if available, unless the court for good cause orders otherwise.

WAIVER OF OBJECTIONS.

(2) To the Officer’s Qualification. An objection based on disqualification of the officer before whom a deposition is to be taken is waived if not made:

(A) before the deposition begins; or

(B) promptly after the basis for disqualification becomes known or, with reasonable diligence, could have been known.