Videotaped Testimony Can Be More Effective Than a Live Witness, Lawyer Says

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Videotaping a deposition is an opportunity to “pan for gold”—nonverbal snippets such as a telling facial expression or extended pause that can be used at trial to define the witness for the trier of fact.

And when it is used to cross-examine a witness at trial, videotape evidence can be mesmerizing, writes Richard Rollo of Richards Layton & Finger. His Delaware Lawyer article on Practical Tips for Deposition Technology is not yet available online.

Even when a witness is testifying live, he or she can be trumped by “a larger-than-life, televised version” in the courtroom, Rollo states. “For some reason, the videotaped testimony seems more believable than the testimony given live.”

The optimum use of technology in law practice is the subject of all of the magazine’s articles in Vol. 27, No. 4.

And it isn’t just when lawyers enter the picture that taped evidence can be critical. The New York Police Department is planning to launch a pilot project to use digital technology to tape detectives’ interrogations of suspects in two of the city’s 76 precincts, reports the Associated Press.

Although not everyone agrees that the new approach is going to be a plus, digital technology makes taping interviews affordable, officials say, and Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes is among those who favor giving it a try.

He predicts that the tapes will make it harder for suspects and their lawyers to portray police as abusive, the news agency reports. “If it works, it will cut off that avenue of examination,” says Hynes of the planned pilot project.

Related coverage:

ABA Journal (McElhaney on Litigation): “Focusing a Deposition”

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