Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the vast majority of examinations for discovery are conducted through online platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams. As it is a natural tendency for witnesses to be insecure in front of a camera, lawyers can aid in making the process more comfortable and effortless.
Here are a few areas lawyers should pay attention to:
The main focus will be on the witness’ face, and any expression that distracts the jury or court professionals like eye-rolling or an expression of disdain while being questioned, is restricted. Politely remind your client to maintain a pleasantly neutral expression during the session.
Absence of mind
When nervous, a witness might start to fidget unconsciously or give long pauses between questions. Doing so may influence others to interpret your client as being evasive or hiding the truth. Try to prepare for this, before examinations.
Advise your witness to wear comfortable clothing, nothing too elaborate or bright. Business casual attire is best. Opt for light or pastel colours. Lighter colours are more prominent on camera. Additionally, avoid wearing too much jewellery and one’s posture should be natural. Do not cross arms or lean over; maintain an upright and focussed position.
Advise your witness to have eye contact with the camera or with the questioning authority or jury, whichever is applicable.
Advise your witness to sit against a blank wall or neutral backdrop, do not allow them to be overshadowed by a large window of light. Instead, make sure the lighting is correct for the camera. Make sure their space is noise-free and to remind everyone in the vicinity to turn off their mobile phones and electronics.
Prior to the examination, advise your witness to make sure that their internet connection is stable and to test their internet connection. If there are any lags or freezing which interrupt the flow of questioning, make sure that the witness has a secondary plan such as switching to data or tethering.
If your witness is not familiar with the platform that they are using, do a test run with the witness to make sure that they are comfortable with using the platform to ensure that time would not be wasted during the discovery trying to sort out technological issues.
By offering to guide your client during video examinations, potentially you can help to make the process much easier and improve the chances of better quality. Video examinations can be beneficial when presenting evidence to a jury and following these simple tips can make a difference.
To book a court reporter for a meeting or a mediation, or even to discuss a court reporting position with On The Record, call one of our locations today, conveniently located in Whitby and Barrie. We look forward to discussing your court reporting or mediation needs.