How Can You Conduct A Remote Questioning Of A Witness?
Since the closure of public spaces, litigators are looking to solutions to be able to provide remote questioning of witnesses during the COVID-19 situation.
We have put together a list of questions and answers that we have been fielding from clients these past few days. We hope this will provide answers for you and solutions so that you can continue to proceed with court reporting services to prepare transcripts of your witnesses.
Can Independent Reporters Help Me To Provide Remote Access?
Yes, Independent Reporters can provide court reporting services remotely with IR Connect. This service allows you, other parties, your witness and the court reporter to all be in the safety of your own location and question a witness as you would if you were in the same room.
What Do I Need For Equipment To Question A Witness Remotely?
Having a computer/table that has a webcam is the most basic setup. However, for a better environment for yourself and other parties connected we recommend the following additions:
- Headphones or external speakers so that your sound is clear.
- An external mic so that your voice is picked-up better for the other parties.
- A solid and reliable Internet connection.
Some law firms have their own in-house videoconferencing equipment, If you do, we can connect with that and tie-in other parties through bridging.
We are finding most lawyers are working from the safety of their homes right now. In this situation you can you a PC – desktop or laptop – and the OS can be Windows, Mac, Linux, Chromebook, Android tablet, iPad, even smartphones, it is not a problem.
How Do All The Parties Connect?
Connecting all parties with Independent Reporters is the easy part. You will be provided with a secure link that will allow you to use a web-based browser.
We have long provided the capability for clients to utilize remote discovery, 15+ years. The equipment and technology we have in place for our backbone is all corporate-grade and not consumer-grade products. The biggest difference here is security, encryption and being point-to-point, which is more critical in legal situations versus using a consumer product to catch-up with friends far away.
I Have No Technical Capability - What Do I Do?
Don’t worry about technical capabilities. Independent Reporters makes this part easy.
You let us know who will be connecting, provide us with their contact details, then we take care of the rest.
We will test in advance with each party to make sure they are aware of what they need to do and how our systems work. Setup time is typically about five minutes.
What Is The Cost Of Using Your Remote Service?
During this time Independent Reporters is waiving our videoconferencing fees. Our normal court reporter attendance, transcript and cancellation fees will apply.
Currently we are looking at not billing for IR Connect video services. Originally complimentary connections were set until April 30, 2020, but we have now reviewed this and are extending these services May 29, 2020. We will review this again mid-May.
What Do We Need To Provide In Advance?
Here are things that you will need to provide us with in advance of the remote questioning:
- Names and contacts of all parties that will be connected. This will be used for advance connection testing and training.
- Exhibits – arrange to provide IR with electronic copies of the exhibits. This way when they are marked and introduced, your court reporter has the electronic version you are introducing and can then create a stamped version for filing. These can be emailed to:
Your exhibits will be returned, with an electronic stamp, with your transcript. If you don’t order a transcript at the time of the questioning, then the exhibits will be returned with our invoice.
- Style of Cause or Case Information so that your court reporter has the exact information for the title page.
Where Will The Court Reporter Be?
Our court reporter will also be remote. They will be taking down testimony from either their home or our offices.
Any Other Things I Need To Know?
Yes, there are a few things you need to know about using IR Connect for your remote questioning.
- Since everyone is remote, speaking over each other can make it more difficult for the court reporter to take down testimony. Your court reporter may interrupt more often to make sure they are getting all the information.
- Don’t wear bright clothing or clothing with fine patterns. The video may appear choppy due to the increased transmission of such clothing. Clothing that is dark or muted is best for the video.
- Lighting is also important. Make sure you are not sitting in a room with a window behind you. All other people will see is a dark shadow instead of you. A plain wall as a backdrop is the best option as it avoids distraction by all parties.
- Having a headset instead of your laptop speakers will improve the audio you are hearing. Even a decent set of external speakers will be a great improvement for extended listening.
OK. How Do I Arrange Remote Court Reporting Services With IR?
You can easily arrange court reporting services with IR. We will need a few more bits of information, such as the other parties that will need to be connected and witness contact information, but other than that, just give us a phone call or use our online booking page.
There is also link at the bottom of this information to our online scheduling page.