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What does the law consider to be a professional videographer?

March 20, 2018 9:00 AM | Anonymous

Beyond the Rules of Civil Procedure (both Federal and Local), there is little guidance in the case law about whom may provide video recording services in a deposition. However, one case from Louisiana’s Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals provides us with insight into precisely what should be required. Brigsten v. Southern Baptist Hosp., 690 So. 2d 810 (La. App. 4 Cir. 1996).

In 1996, the court ruled on an appeal that focused on whether or not the law firm’s staff or office personnel could serve as the videographer to record depositions of witnesses in the case. Initially, the trial court permitted the plaintiff to take depositions with the attorney’s secretary serving as the videographer. However, the appeals court disagreed. It pointed out that the Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure Article 1440 required that there be “provisions to assure that the recorded testimony [] be accurate and trustworthy.” La. C.C.P. art. 1440 (emphasis added).

In its ruling, the court identified two factors that impact the accuracy and trustworthiness of the recorded testimony. First, the court noted that the defendant identified three primary areas of concern that could affect the objectivity of the deposition. Second, the court held that there is a need for consistency in the level of the court reporter and of the videographer.

Objectivity of the Deposition

Defense counsel identified that “audio problems, picture quality and angles of a non-professional videographer could very well affect the objectivity of the deposition.” Id. at 811. Virtually any activity undertaken by a videographer in the process of recording the deposition video itself falls into one of these three categories. Indeed, these three areas of concern are of paramount importance to the accuracy and trustworthiness of the video. Non-professional videographers, due to their lack of training and expertise, may inadvertently impact the objectivity of the recording.

This is why the AGCV’s Certified Deposition Video Specialist Course discusses the components of each of these three areas of concern and demands that the recordings produced by videographers are of high quality and rigorous consistency. Videographers that have undertaken the AGCV’s training and demonstrated their skills by passing our written and practical examination demonstrate that they are professional videographers in the litigation support context.

Consistency As Between Court Reporters and Videographers

The court also stated that “[i]t would be inconsistent to provide for a certified professional reporter to be used when transcribing and not to require that a professional videographer be used in a videotaped deposition.” Id. Beyond the implicit expectations of the Code of Civil Procedure, common sense dictates that operators involved in the capture of sworn testimony have the requisite training, demonstrate strength of character, and uphold the ideals of our legal system.

While some videographers may never swear in a witness, at the AGCV, we expect that the videographers that go through our training hold themselves to the same standards and expectations of professional reporters. They need to be cordial in their interactions with others, competent at their jobs, and disinterested in the outcome of the case so as to ensure accuracy and trustworthiness of the deposition recording.

But at the AGCV, we go one step further than what the court expects or requires. While it holds that a professional videographer is sufficient to ensure the accuracy and trustworthiness of the video, AGCV videographers that complete the CDVS Course may also submit to a written examination and practical test to further signify their commitment to their profession and the legal field. The professional videographers that complete this process are then certified, in much the same way court reporters are certified to perform their work.

The court ultimately concluded “that a party seeking a deposition, if desirous of using a videotape of that deposition, shall provide a disinterested professional [**4] videographer to take the deposition.” Id. at 812 (emphasis added). AGCV Certified Deposition Video Specialists clearly live up to the paradigm of professional videographer because of their adherence to high quality standards, rigorous consistency, and parity with court reporters as disinterested third parties that capture the record. Furthremore, they exceed the expectations of the court by subjecting themselves to a Certification process that demonstrates their knowledge and expertise.

The next time you hire a videographer, ask them to show you their AGCV Certified Deposition Video Specialist Certification. If you already have a preferred videographer, you can ensure that they are a Certified professional by going to http://agcv.com/certificate-directory.

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