Remote depositions were once seen as a temporary workaround to keep litigation moving forward during the pandemic. Many courts across the country implemented emergency orders allowing legal proceedings to be held remotely to maintain a safe and healthy environment for all parties. Now, time has allowed vendors to develop innovative platforms to make remote proceedings a seamless experience for litigators whilst giving them confidence that a remote deposition can be just as effective as one taken in person.
Substantial time has passed since the pandemic, and the state of Washington has entered an Order Regarding Court Operations After October 31, 2022, No. 25700-B-697 (“Order”). This Order endorses a set of rules which makes remote depositions the preferred default method of discovery.
Paragraph 3a of the Order states as follows:
- With respect to all civil matters, courts should encourage parties to stipulate in writing to reasonable modifications of existing case schedules and remote methods of service and to conduct discovery, pretrial hearings, and alternative dispute resolution by remote means whenever possible.
- Presumption of Remote Depositions: With respect to discovery, depositions shall be performed remotely absent agreement of the parties or a finding of good cause by the Court to require the depositions be performed in person. Absent agreement of the parties, with respect to remote depositions where only the deponent and their counsel are in the same room, the Page 3 ORDER REGARDING COURT OPERATIONS AFTER OCTOBER 31, 2022 25700-B-697 technology used must include video/audio for both the deponent and their counsel. If the deposition is being recorded (see CR 30(b)(8)), the recording need only be of the deponent witness and not of other participants to the deposition proceeding.
This rule speaks volumes about how the pandemic has changed the legal field’s perspective when it comes to conducting depositions. Conducting depositions in person was standard practice years ago. Now, Washington Supreme Court gives preference to remote depositions unless “good cause” is found to hold such a proceeding in person.
Washington is not the first to implement remote proceedings as the new standard and preferred method for discovery practice. For example, on October 1, 2022, Florida Supreme Court’s revised court rules took effect and support remote and technology-driven procedures. Rule 1.310(b)(7) specifically provides in part:
(7) A deposition may be taken by communication technology … if stipulated by the parties or if ordered by the court on its own motion or on motion of a party.
In addition to the requirements of subdivision (b)(1), a party intending to take a deposition by communication technology must:
(A) state that the deposition is to be taken using communication technology in the title of the notice; and (B) identify the specific form of communication technology to be used and provide instructions for access to the communication technology in the body of the notice.
What’s more, the Supreme Court of Minnesota also applied remote proceedings as their new standard as of June 6, 2022. According to Minnesota’s oneCourtMN Hearings Initiative Policy, every type of case matter is assigned a presumptive format which will either be “in-person” or “remote.” Divorce, child custody, domestic abuse, evictions, probate, juvenile delinquency, guardianship, and all types of civil litigation hearings now fall under the remote status, leaving only major civil, bench trials, jury trials, and contempt hearings to fall under the “in-person” proceedings umbrella.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, it is easy to understand why remote proceedings have become the preferred method. Conducting legal proceedings remotely frees up time and alleviates travel and other miscellaneous expenses for all parties. Furthermore, vendors continue to industrialize innovative programs to aid attorneys in running seamless remote depositions. With multiple jurisdictions adopting rules to make remote proceedings the new standard, it is clear remote and technological proceedings will continue to dominate the legal industry.
Contact First Legal Depositions to find out how we implement best-in-class solutions to support your remote proceedings.