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Old January 15th, 2010, 01:43 PM   #46
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"the operator of the camera shall be a person who is authorized to administer the oath"

Just curious as to who can "administer the oath"? Any special requirements, or would it be moot if a regular court reporter were there doing that function? Curiousity really...
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Old January 15th, 2010, 05:10 PM   #47
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Originally Posted by Paul Tauger View Post
This is not a requirement that a deposition videographer be a notary.
Correct. This is not a requirement that a deposition videographer be a Notary. However, it is a requirement that the deposition videographer be "Authorized to administer the oath".

A Notary Public can administer the oath and this is the most logical certification a videographer can get that allows him or her to do so.

You have to be careful here because if the deposition videographer is not authorized to administer the oath in these types of depostions, the video could be thrown out and the videographer and the company he/she works for could be sued.
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Old January 15th, 2010, 07:06 PM   #48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Blackhurst View Post
"the operator of the camera shall be a person who is authorized to administer the oath"

Just curious as to who can "administer the oath"? Any special requirements, or would it be moot if a regular court reporter were there doing that function? Curiousity really...
In my state, for my company the stenographer administers the oath. The videographer doesn't need to be certified as long as he adheres to the standards.
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Old January 16th, 2010, 10:16 AM   #49
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My understanding

has always been that:
1) any Notary Public in attendance can administer the oath if the Notary is authorized (i.e. received theiri commission) from the state (and sometimes down to the county) in which the deponent is located, i.e. the authority to do so comes with being a Notary. (For that limited purpose, they are/may be considered an officer of the court).
2) the court with jurisdiction can, at its discretion, "authorize" someone who is not a Notary, if for instance, a Notary Public is not available. (I've never seen or heard of this happening, and I suspect would only be allowed in very, very unusual circumstances).

Because a properly-recorded deposition would include the complete record of what transpired during a deposition, some states may allow a deposition to proceed without the presence of a stenographer, because the recording would be/serve as the complete record. However, I've never seen or heard of that either, and the few depositions I've worked on have always had a stenographer who is a Notary. This seems to be SOP, even though the "Rules" may allow otherwise. (I can't imagine an attorney allowing otherwise, i.e. ff "technical difficulties" prevented a videographer from recording, the entire exercise would be wasted).

It's important to have backup equipment, too, just in case something gets damaged or otherwise fails.
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Old January 18th, 2010, 12:23 PM   #50
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In most cases it is the court reporter who swears the witness at a deposition. However, I am aware of a few instances, one in particular, where it was a Saturday deposition. The court reporter for some reason never showed up. Since the videographer was a Notary, he was able to swear the witness and the deposition went forward without a court reporter present. Later, the court reporter produced a transcript of the proceedings by listening to or watching a videotape of the deposition.

Legal videographers are occasionally called to videotape a "statement under oath" without a court reporter present. This is also situation where the videographer needs to be authorized to administer the oath if no one else present (such as another Notary) is authorized to do so.

In California, a videographer must be authorized to administer the oath (More often than not by being a Notary Public) if they are to videotape the deposition testimony of a treating or consulting physician or of any expert witness under subdivision (d) of Section 2025.620. This holds true regardless of the presence of a court reporter and regardless of whether the videographer administers the oath for that particular deposition or not.

A videographer who is not authorized to administer the oath in these types of depositions but videotapes them anyway, can be liable for damages caused when the videotaped evidence is thrown out of court. Lawyers who are aware of this rule will hold this card in their hand.
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Old January 26th, 2010, 05:34 PM   #51
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Thank you all for your interesting comments. As to Paul, my whole interest in being the court recorder/videographer is to hopefully save you significant money and give you quality transcripts. In my research, videographers may charge anywhere from $75 an hour, up to $325-minimum for 1/2 day, then you also pay for the court reporter to attend. We have a few people here in Michigan who do this (videographer/reporter) and are in demand. Most are still recording using the videotapes (egad!), I suppose it's what they've always done. Starting out from scratch with the digital is what I'm researching and your comments are all very helpful. As to the notary, getting your notary is not that difficult nor expensive, usually, and can be a sideline one may find useful on occasion. Every state has their own requirements. Attorneys are notaries, here.

Paul, for example, if you videotaped witnesses, meetings etc., in-house in Michigan, see, I could transcribe your content and since I'm certified the transcript could be filed in court. We transcribe many court proceedings from the CD/DVD's that are recorded by the clerks.
Storage and possession of the deposition 'master' is set by Michigan statute, and the digital is surely more economical and practical than the videotapes of old.

Thank you all, I appreciate your input, if there's anything I can help you folks with, please ask. Sometimes it's a few days' delay in catching up here, due to the workload.
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Old January 26th, 2010, 06:26 PM   #52
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Originally Posted by Josh Fenton View Post
You have to be careful here because if the deposition videographer is not authorized to administer the oath in these types of depostions, the video could be thrown out and the videographer and the company he/she works for could be sued.
I can't weigh in on the legalities here but you DO realize that Paul Tauger IS a lawyer and is our resident legal expert? Just pointing out that his word is a little different than most of us that confound issues with "stuff we read on the Interwebs"...
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Old January 27th, 2010, 09:09 AM   #53
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So I'm a bit confused. Is the OP a court REPORTER or a court RECORDER? In all the years I've been involved with legal work, I've never seen anyone come in and charge to do a separate audio recording. The court reporter usually records the audio to a handheld unit as a reference to the transcript but that is all. Can you clarify exactly what you do Amy?
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Old January 27th, 2010, 10:33 AM   #54
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Glad to clarify. May be somewhat lengthy. Here in Michigan, and many states, the record can be taken either by a stenotype reporter, who listens to every word and takes it down in machine shorthand, then either dictates from the notes to a dictaphone which is then typed by someone, or most frequently notes are translated through their software to a rough copy which then the steno goes through and fine-tunes with like proper names, technical words, etc. Most of the time in depositions the steno also uses an audiotape recording as a backup and for clarifications later. You see a stenotype reporter on television in court dramas and the news, etc. Michigan also has court recorders, such as myself, who are licensed to run a special recording machine, the last 20 years or so were 4-channel audiotape machines (Sony BM 246 or Lanier); mid-90's videotape machines started to be used; and we transcribed the court proceedings directly from the tape. These days the recordings are more often done via a sophisticated digital system with up to 8 channels/microphones. When a transcript is requested the recording is burned to a DVD, given to me and I can transcribe as a Word document on my computer via using a USB foot pedal and a software download from certain companies.

When a video deposition is taken, our requirements are that the transcript must be provided by someone licensed, or "certified" to provide the transcript. In most cases the videographer records onto whatever his media preference is, used to be videotape, now some are using digital; the videographer also simultaneously records a 'courtesy' audiotape which is usually given to the stenographer as a backup. As Paul says, he books depositions through a court reporting company, who arranges for the video operator to be present, that person preserves the "master" video and disseminates the copies to whomever orders it from him(her). The steno reporter is also present and takes the testimony down via their shorthand and provides the certified transcript. The reporter is the one who swears the witness, takes care of exhibits, etc. I, as a 'recorder', on the other hand, take the record on my antiquated but functional 4-channel audiotape recorder and type the transcript listening to my audiotape on that same recorder/player which also has a foot pedal.

So, I'd like to become the videographer/recorder, which there are some in Michigan. It's just the camera that I'm stuck on. Someone mentioned that it might be a lot for one person to do both. Here in Michigan with the economy the way it is I believe I could offer a good service at significant cost savings to the legal community, were I to find equipment that would work and not require another mortgage to purchase.

One technical person I came across referred me to this site and specifically Paul's previous articles on video depositions which I have much appreciated. Sorry this is so lengthy.

Amy
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Old January 28th, 2010, 08:36 AM   #55
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In that case, I don't think it would be too much to do both. As a court videographer, I am required to produce a video with extremely clean audio. So essentially you would just become a videographer and drop the separate recorder moniker as there would no longer be a need for your services since you would be recording clean audio for video. You're already familiar with the rules of civil procedure. Sounds like a natural progression to me.

Unfortunately good equipment ain't cheap. I use 2 Sony Z1U's for depositions, they're decent on low light, have 2 channel audio with xlr connections, and can burn timecode and date stamp right to tape. Unlike a lot of videographers, I don't go overboard with audio. I have a high quality wireless lav on the deposed and a high quality shotgun on counsel. Lawyers like my setup because I don't have wires running everywhere and they're not strapped in with a wired mic AND I'll put my audio up against anyone. Clean and crisp, it's all about quality gear not quantity. Then you have to have a computer and professional software capable of editing video and burning dvd's. The whole thing can be had for under ten grand.

Here's the kicker though. Depositions are in the tank. Everyone I know is hurting bad. Legal work only accounts for a small percentage of my overall business so I'm OK, but if you're planning on making a living doing this and are purchasing equipment solely to do legal work, I would think twice.
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Old January 28th, 2010, 02:41 PM   #56
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Thanks, Mick. Yes, I know regular depositions are in the tank, I've only had 2 scheduled for January, usually have many. December was bleak also but not quite so bad. Michigan is especially hard hit. I was hoping to expand my services hoping for more marketability but will rethink. Thanks for the tip on the wireless mics, I had wondered how they'd work. With my audio recordings, the manufacturer told us wireless would allow other frequencies to interfere with the recordings. I already have many XLR mics: Crown, Audio-Technica lavs, etc. that I was hoping would work. Your comments are very helpful. Maybe I should stick to what I'm best at, especially considering the price point you suggest.
Amy
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Old January 28th, 2010, 08:49 PM   #57
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Don't get me wrong Amy, that's just my setup. I'm sure you have some "legacy" equipment that will fit into your video kit nicely. You don't NEED 2 cameras, but if something goes wrong...

Also, I use the Z1U's because I need them for live multi camera events, you could get by with much less camera as long as it can burn time and date stamp. If you purchased frugally and bought used, you could set up for much less than my rig. As far as editing goes, you could do most depositions in Moviemaker(free with Windows) since there really isn't much actual editing, just bumping clips together on a timeline with fade in between and burning a direct play(no menus) DVD.

Now the OTHER issue. I don't know about Michigan, but here in Maryland, large national firms are lowballing all the small guys to drive them out and corner the market. These large firms are offering video services for 30-50% less than my prices. I charge a minimum $250 for the first 2 hours or portion thereof, and $75 an hour after that. Not unreasonable when you consider my years of experience, backup equipment, quality product AND 100% guarantee(of which I've never paid a penny back). It all depends on how much you need to make and how much you want to work. If you can pay back the gear within 18 months I'd say it's worth doing. Things will pick up, when and how much is anybody's guess.
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Old January 29th, 2010, 09:40 AM   #58
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DVD recorder

There is a lot of really good information here. I have a question. What DVD recorder would you recommend for depositions. Of course price and size are a major concern for most of us.
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Old January 29th, 2010, 12:02 PM   #59
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What I've seen most often is that

DVD recorders are generally used ONLYy as a backup method of recording, just in case some other glitch occurs. I know of at least 2 legal vids who use a Sony DVDirect product. There are a few different models, but be aware of what they will and won't do. Example: 1 model is meant to create DVDs in either SD or Sony's flavor of AVCHD. If you have a Panasonic AVCHD cam, e.g. HMC-150, you will be limited to recording to the DVD in SD using S-video or composite connections. You will never be able to record AVCHD footage recorded-on/output-by a Panasonic cam to a Sony DVDirect recorder. (The Sony DVDirect recorders expect input from a Sony camera. I think the input jack is/may even be proprietary to Sony Handycams).
Another consideration is the extra time & work involved if you DO have to resort to using the backup recorded to a DVD. Depending on what the attorney(s) want you MAY have to convert from one format, e.g. mpeg, to another format. This is more work for you, and may even delay delivery. (Keep in mind that the attorney's generally want their copies soon after the deposition, usually within 24-48 hrs; some even "on the spot").

I can't imagine how angry an attorney would be if, after a deposition, they were told the video record was unavailable; the reason would be irrelevant. You're supposed to be a professional, ready to handle problems, even if unforeseen...not just "someone who has the equipment".

Like a boy scout, you must always - and ALL WAYS - "be prepared".

Good luck.
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Old January 29th, 2010, 05:11 PM   #60
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I would never rely on a consumer product like a DVD recorder and I don't know of any professional DVD recorders that justify the price. Furthermore, DVD is a DELIVERY format not an ACQUISITION format and if your camera goes down the DVD recorder won't do you a bit of good as there will be no signal to record. Better money spent on a second camera even if it is a cheaper model than your main unit. I would much rather tell everyone to take 5 while I switch cameras then to tell them they have to reschedule because my only camera is fried. The chances of 2 cameras going south the same day is next to none.
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