There are those moments when you are in the room, waiting for the other parties to arrive at the deposition, when conversations inevitably turn to that topic of topics: iPads. Who can resist?
Recently, under such circumstances, I had an interesting conversation with a court reporter in which we discussed the possible future usage of iPads during the deposition process. Certainly, already, lawyers are bringing their deposition outlines and documents to depositions on their iPads, laptops, or tablets. With utilities like Dropbox and other online file storage utilities, lawyers or their staff members can place sizable PDF files in shared folders and make them accessible to the lawyer at their deposition. (Let’s assume for the purposes of this blog entry that any file sharing security and safety concerns are not at issue, shall we?)
The chief practical advantage of this approach is that the lawyer need not take boxes and boxes and boxes of voluminous potential exhibits to the deposition. Wouldn’t that be nice? Sigh. There have been cases during which I have had to take multiple boxes – each full of red wells, folders, papers, binders, and such – to the deposition. You’ve got to have your notice of deposition, accident report, witness statements, and other records ready to be admitted into the record. Plus, you must carry with you a number of potential exhibits, as well. You never know what might become relevant; perhaps the witness will make a remark which requires the usage of voluminous medical or employment records as exhibits. Perhaps you’ve dug up lots of dirt on the witness and want to reserve the right to confront him or her with documents to that effect.
But why are we are we continuing to bring these papers with us to depositions? Well, the custom is, and the rules generally require, that the deposing lawyer provide copies of each exhibit to any lawyer present at the deposition. We also need for the witness to be able to physically hold a copy of the exhibit, which, of course becomes the property of the court reporter who attaches it to the deposition in question. Lots of paper, that.
There’s a better way.
For most exhibits, we could simply produce a PDF on our iPads and show the witness the document in that format. Prior to doing so, we could email a PDF of that exhibit from our iPads to all the lawyers present at the deposition so that they could have a copy to review on their laptops, PDAs or iPads. Finally, a copy could be emailed to the court reporter to attach to the deposition itself, thereby sparing the need for multiple printouts of these exhibits (particularly when certain exhibits were probably already brought by all of the lawyers present as part of their own preparation for the proceeding). This certainly seems to be an appropriate approach for exhibits such as notices of deposition, discovery responses, and accident reports, all of which are almost certain to be introduced into evidence, that every attorney in the case already has anyway, and in all likelihood, brought with them to the deposition in the first place.
But what if you want the witness to draw the exhibit? How can I do so if it is in digital format? Well, there are even programs that will allow someone using a stylist to draw on a PDF that is imported in that program.
Such issues are easily overcome.
Someday, though, someday, we’ll be able to arrive at the deposition with just our laptop or tablet.
But, alas, that day has not yet arrived.
(This post was originally posted on the now defunct North Carolina Law Blog on Wednesday, April 11, 2012).