COVID-19 Update

CDR’s offices are operational remotely – we have done this for a long time so nothing new there.

Following the social distancing, the calendar has fallen off. April is set moderately well. During this time Megan will in touch and keep everyone informed as well. We simply don’t know how long this will go on. We encourage you to look at the setup for remote video depositions. The President extended the stay in place to the end of April.

We have done some research and have added that in the reporter depository at work. Just login and download the updates.

We are in this for the long haul. This is all very unsettling to everyone – no doubt about it. We have all the resources in place to keep the ball rolling. We are confident throughout this that we will be maintaining the continuity of ongoing litigation. CDR is equipped and available to serve you remotely. We Are operational and functioning with telephone, texting, and email. We have audio and video conferencing products for remote video depositions to meet the needs of independent contract reporters and clients. Feel free to contact us at any time for details.

These are uncharted water sand we will get through this. Megan will stay in touch.

We will endeavor to adapt to the audio, video conferencing, and remote video depositions as well as managing exhibits – and as we learn, we will pass along our knowledge. Feel free to do the same – we learn from many sources. Communication is vital to keeping each other informed – and we promise to exactly that.

Just the basic to hook up

Hard line connection to the internet — This prevents Wi-FI dropout and speed issues

Headphones — a real plus — with a mic — it also avoids feedback – See Equipment Suggestions

Computer and writer

When using equipment or locations you are not familiar with — test in advance

Remote Counsel testhttps://remotecounsel.com/event_stream/system_test

Zoom test Audio – https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/360000319683-Zoom-Rooms-Daily-Audio-Testing

Join a test meeting: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/115002262083-Joining-a-test-meeting

When possible — establish online video conferencing connections several minutes before start time.

Ask all participants if they can see and hear all participants.

Avoid window backdrops — backlighting makes you hard to see

Videoconference link from reporting firm — or your own.

Premarked Exhibits — or folder with exhibits in them — This will evolve.

Have read-ons close and rehearsal isn’t a bad idea.

Have cell phone and tech support numbers just in case.

Reporting From Home

Are you ready to work from your home? Learn how to report depositions remotely utilizing Zoom, Remote Counsel, Final Exhibits, Egnyte, and your own software.

Remote technologies, such as Zoom, and Remote Counsel let everyone participate remotely utilizing their webcam-quipped computers or mobile devices with an internet connection. You can use the camera on your computer, but an external camera provides a much better picture.

Testing –  https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/115002262083-Joining-a-test-meeting

Additionally, a few small tips. Always connect with a cable to your network connection. Wi-Fi simply is not good for throughput. Test, test, test – test your webcam, test your audio, test your internet speed – called a self-test. For instance, you can test all of these at Remote Counsel’s web site – https://remotecounsel.com/event_stream/system_test

Administration of the oath

Federal Rule 30(d) provides: The parties may stipulate – or the court on motion – that a deposition may be taken by telephone or other remote means. For the purpose of this rule and Rules 28(a), 37(a)(2), and 37(b)(1), the deposition takes place where the deponent answers questions.

It is important that all parties stipulate that you, the court reporter, can swear in the witness remotely. Suggested language is as follows: “Before we proceed, I will ask counsel to agree on the record that under the current National Emergency pursuant to Section 319 of the Public Health Service Act, there is no objection to this deposition officer administering a binding oath to the witness remotely. Please state your agreement on the record.”

Another suggestion — “Before we proceed, I will ask counsel to agree on the record that under the current National Emergency pursuant to Section 319 of the Public Health Service Act, there is no objection to this deposition officer administering a binding oath to the witness by phone. Please state your agreement on the record.”

Hardware Suggestions

We put together a list of possible hardware and software solutions for remote reporting. The easier part is the hardware — so here we go. Please keep in mind, I’m sure there are a substantial number of alternatives to these suggestions, but this should give you some excellent choices.

Headphones – these make it easier to hear the proceedings during a remote deposition and help with both keeping extraneous noise out but put the proceedings as close to your ears as possible. There are obviously a lot of choices regarding headphones — but quality of the audio source is the best way to make reporting any proceeding easier.

Logitech Gaming Headphones — not inexpensive — but remember, audio quality is everything. According to Techradar, the source for tech buying advice, the best PC gaming headsets of 2020

Their number one pick is HyerX Cloud Revolver From Newegg at $149.99. The number 2, 3, 4 are all $200 and up. Go to https://www.techradarcominews/computing-components/best-pc-gamingheadset-1322675 and check it out.

I went to another site — pcgamer.com/best-gaming headset. This comes with an external mic and is labeled the HyperX Cloud Alpha — here is a link to the review – https://www.pcgamercom/hyperx-cloudalpha-review/

You can get it from several sources — Best Buy — 84.99.

Get it directly for $99.99 – https://www.hyperxgaming.com/us/headsetsicloud-alpha-pro-gamingheadset?ktc campaign=GoogieShopping&gclid=CjOKCQiw6 vzBRCIAR1sA0s54z79 jElXnhARN1RqahXFS8 ucAuZy6u7z5gR2rA3sHtREI7193YW-GoaAhVQEALw wcB

Conference speakerphones.

The Ten Best USB Speakerphones — here is the link – https://wiki.ezvid.com/best-usb-speakerphones

They offer three areas of spending — best high end, best mid-range and best Inexpensive. The number one pick in best high end is too expensive — but looking at the least expensive — the Jabra Speak 410 is inexpensive and rated number 2 of the least expensive. I cut this out of the review for you to consider.

But if you routinely make important conference calls, a dedicated USB speakerphone may be in order. The Jabra Speak 41o, Plantronics Calisto  610-M, and Sennheiser SP2o are all reasonably priced and perform very well, though they may struggle with groups of more than 6 or 8 people.

The eMeet M1 is in the same price range but boasts Bluetooth wireless technology as well as a powerful 7-mic array that promises to both pick up voices and cancel environmental noise. The BeyerDynamic Phonum is a bit more costly than those mid-range options but has an impressive level of sound quality. The ClearOne Chat 17o  has an even larger price tag but does offer some of the functionality that commercial use requires. At the other end of the spectrum are the eMeet Mo, which is a bit quiet, and the Kaysuda S P2 0 0 U, which is surprisingly reliable and high-performing for a $50 device.

So one more — this is the 5 Best Speakers for Conference Calls in 2020 –

https://welovesinging.com/best-speakers-for-conference-calls/

This is a Bluetooth speaker — it is an upgrade from the one above, but it Is Bluetooth, not USB. This one is pricier than most. The 410 is what was up above — they also make a Speak 510 and this 710. 710 is best for a conference room — although this says this is good for your mobile phone, laptop or whatever Bluetooth device you have.

Cameras

You can use the camera on your computer, but an external camera provides a much better picture.

Logitech has some great choices — here is a link to the best webcams from wirecutter – https://thewirecutter.com/reviews/the-best-webcams/

They recommend the Logitech C9205 HD Pro Webcam – $70 from Logitech. The list several others that you may wish to review — like everything, there are many choices.

Video Conference Software For Remote Video Depositions — choices

We use Remote Counsel for our video conferencing and remote video depositions at the office. It has a variety of ways to connect and offers great technical support. If you go to their web site – https://www.remotecounsel.com/event_stream/system_test – they have a test center to hook up to so you can check that everything works before the job starts. Check it out — it is easier than you think. Remote Counsel can hook up to virtually anyone.

Remote Counsel can stream any CAT software. Depending on your version, CaseCatalyst may already have a two-click setup for Remote Counsel — take a look.

We are also going to utilize Zoom video conferencing services — and although we are newer to this company, Megan has scheduled jobs with them in the past and finds it easy to use. https://zoom.us/

Both companies have online demos — worth looking at.

Remote Counsel and Zoom both accommodate real-time connections. It is streaming — it just takes a bit of practice in advance, but it is relatively easy. You can also stream real-time utilizing Eclipse Bridge or Stenograph’s CaseView Net.

Software Suggestions — Document Management

Exhibit Management Software

We have discovered two excellent products; one is Final Exhibits and another one is Egnyte. A link to both would be helpful for you to see the demo. Final Exhibits is used primarily reporter based while Egnyte is cloud-based and firm or reporter utilized. We are working with both to determine which one is best. For now, until we have it more refined, I would invite you to take their tour and see how their products work.

Final Exhibits is a product used to electronically mark exhibits. This product is user-based. We are looking into this — have downloaded the demo and will let you know what we learn. As an example, counsel could provide the exhibits in advance, we can pre-mark them and send them to you. in the meantime, should you be curious, you can find a demo on YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=URMtjLoi824

We are also looking at a cloud-based application for document management to deal with exhibits and we are learning more about its implementation this week. We will follow up with this document management and document sharing device.

In short, it allows us to share documents through the cloud. We upload the documents prior to the deposition, and everyone has access to the documents during the deposition — allows you to either mark or not mark the exhibits for the deposition and then put in a folder all documents marked during the deposition. Following the deposition, all the marked exhibits are contained in a folder labeled, for instance, introduced, whatever designation we chose and those are the deposition exhibits for the deponent. Exhibits that were sent to us but not used are in a separate folder called potential and will not be distributed.

We see two clear choices for remote video depositions and videoconference software — Remote Counsel and Zoom. We are working on the Zoom nuts and bolts and will have something the first of the week. A lot of reporters are using Zoom — it is inexpensive and easy to use. Link is here — we will have our own licenses should you not wish to purchase them. https://zoom.us/

Some reporters maintain two licenses for Zoom — allowing them to utilize one computer for the live feed and the other computer to manage the documents — some utilize two screens, but you can also share your screen with exhibits as well. We will have two licenses. We can handle the scheduling and number of participants — including you.

There is a learning curve — no question about it. We just wanted to let you know that we have solutions now and into the future — but it will be an adjustment for all of us. We have been through hard times before and we intend to be here for you now and into the future.

Exhibit management is evolving — there are several ways to approach this — we are working through this. One is utilization of exhibit management software, sending the exhibits to the firm and having them pre-marked or using a split screen, or not, to show the exhibits being marked — utilizing Final Exhibits.

Witness Swear-in Language Suggestions

So here are some read-on suggestions gathered from a few sources regarding swearing in of the witness during a video or telephonic deposition. Of course, you are welcome to use whatever suits you.

Prior to starting the deposition, we suggest the following options:

“Before we proceed, I will ask counsel to agree on the record that under the current National Emergency pursuant to Section 319 of the Public Health Service Act, there is no objection to this deposition officer administering a binding oath to the witness remotely. Please state your agreement on the record.”

Or, “Before we proceed, I will ask counsel to agree on the record that under the current National Emergency pursuant to Section 319 of the Public Health Service Act, there is no objection to this deposition officer administering a binding oath to the witness by phone. Please state your agreement on the record.”

Or, “Before we proceed, I will ask counsel to agree on the record that under the current National Emergency pursuant to Section 319 of the Public Health Service Act, there is no objection to this deposition officer administering a binding oath to the witness by videoconference. Please state your agreement on the record.”

Or, “Before we proceed, I ill ask counsel to agree on the record that under the current National Emergency pursuant to Section 39 of the Public Health Service Act, there is no objection to this deposition officer administering a binding oath to a witness not appearing personally before me. Please state your agreement on the record.”

Read-on Suggestions — Opening Statement

Some suggestions — and I have acquired these from many sources, so I’ll just lay some of them out.

This is really a no-brainer — dress appropriately. It goes without saying, but likely a good idea, even though this is going to be a substantially more casual event, it is a good idea to dress like you would at any deposition.

Eliminate background noise —TV, radio, cell phone comes to mind.

Relax — be confident like you are at all depositions. This will be new to everyone at first, and after everyone gets used to it, it will be easier.

I’ll go over it in the opening remarks but identify yourself — this is a must — especially on the audio-only depositions.

Speak up. Don’t be afraid to speak up. The back and forth with objections or speakers can be daunting if you can’t hear them — and if you don’t, just let them know. Be patient.

Sample Opening Remarks

“Counsel, because we are all appearing by telephone, everyone is going to have to be more conscious than ever of not speaking over each other. If I cannot hear the end of a question of the beginning of an answer, you are going to have a poor record. If I must consistently interrupt, you record will not have a good flowing record. If you do object, I must be able to hear it and know who is speaking, so please say your name when you object so I can know who is talking. With more than one attorney that might object, this becomes even more important.”

“If I do need to interrupt, I would ask that you be patient and know that my goal is to provide all counsel and the witness a perfect record of the proceedings.

“Please move your papers and/or legal pads away from the microphone source to eliminate ambient noise. It may become necessary for you to speak directly into your device if you are utilizing the speaker on your device.”

When you mark exhibits, please identify the document by stating the date and number of pages and any further information so there will be no confusion about the document.”

Governor’s Executive Order Addresses Remote Depositions on Party Depositions

Today the governor issued executive orders addressing remote depositions of party witnesses utilizing telephonic means.

One noteworthy part of the Order addresses remote depositions and reads as follows:

“In addition to any statute suspended pursuant to Paragraph 3, the following statutes are suspended: a) Code of Civil Procedure section 2025.310, subdivision (b), to the extent that subdivision limits a court’s authority to provide that a party deponent may appear at a deposition by telephone.”

We have cut and pasted that from the email notification sent out by DRA.

Current law in subdivision (b) already permits a nonparty deponent to appear remotely but requires that a party deponent must appear in the presence of the deposition officer, (with a California CSR, qualified to administer the oath), though with the written stipulation of all counsel, a party witness may be allowed to testify remotely. It appears to be the intent of the Order to permit the possibility of a party deponent to appear remotely outside the presence of the deposition officer.

However, the Order contemplates that a court would have to be involved. The Order says: “…to the extent that subdivision limits a court’s authority to provide that a party deponent may appear at a deposition by telephone. ” The only limit on a court’s authority under current law would be to permit the ability of a party deponent to appear outside the presence of the deposition officer. Confusingly, current law does not, in fact, prevent a party deponent from being deposed by telephone if the deposition officer is there with the party deponent.

CalDra will seek clarification of the order and keep DRA members apprised of further developments. If you would like to see the entire order, here is a link: https://www.gov.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/3.27.-20-E0-N-38-20-text.pdf