Prior to recent world events, taking depositions by remote means was seen more as a luxury to avoid travel costs for relatively unimportant, but necessary, depositions. It was also seen as an inferior way to take depositions. However, in the current world environment, utilizing and applying remote deposition technology can actually be ordered by a court when the circumstances require, which may likely begin to occur more often. Also, with improving technology, a witnesses’ demeanor and appearance can be accurately assessed in a remote video-conference based platform.
From an insurance defense perspective, Nevada attorneys can keep cases moving forward in the face of quarantines, social distancing, and closures of public gathering places by insisting on remote depositions of plaintiffs, offering remote depositions of client representatives and other important witnesses, and by bringing motions to compel depositions by remote technology when opposing attorneys delay the discovery process because they will not agree to use of remote technology to complete a deposition. Nevada Rules of Civil Procedure (NRCP), Rule 30(b)(4) allows parties to stipulate to a deposition taken by remote means, but also allows the court on motion to order that a deposition be taken by remote means. NRCP Rule 34 also contains e-discovery provisions requiring parties to specify the form in which electronically stored information is requested and produced. These types of statutory provisions are a good vehicle to preclude opposing attorneys from being successful at asserting the excuse of delay.
With technology improved to where it is at now, video conferencing depositions still allows attorneys to see the demeanor and body language of the deponent. Some services are offering laptops, tablets and even mobile phones to enable witnesses in remote locations, or those who are bedridden, to appear for a deposition. Deposition streaming providing face-to-face communication with multiple parties at once is now possible, and court reporting services are more eager than ever to provide these services, because they are adapting their business as well to the new world environment.
With court house closures and visitor restrictions on many public locations throughout Nevada, depositions, and discovery in general, by use of remote technology, will become more and more prevalent. In fact, these events may even promote technological growth, adaptation and increased implementation of remote technology throughout the legal community. Exhaustive changes were recently made to the Nevada Electronic Filing and Conversion Rules (NEFCR) which took effect on March 1, 2019, so the court system appears to be primed for the situation. There appears to be enough legislative teeth to e-discovery and remote technology rules that cases should not have to be delayed by using the excuse of social distancing, prohibitions on public gatherings, or visitor restrictions on public places.
The wheels of justice do not have to stop turning when catastrophes hit our nation and the world. We can continue getting results for our clients expeditiously by utilizing the tools that are already in place. Taking more depositions by remote technology is one way we can keep cases moving forward and overcome the challenges posed by a national or world catastrophe, such as the one at hand.
- Nevada Rules of Civil Procedure (NRCP) Rule 30, 34
- Nevada Electronic Filing and Conversion Rules (NEFCR)
- nccourt.net (Superior Court of Nevada)
- Barkley Court Reporters (barkley.com)
- Veritext (veritext.com)