Modern technology is a wondrous marvel.
Except when it isn't
Yesterday, I took the deposition of a primary care provider in one of our FTCA malpractice cases. She was the target, so to speak. My original plan was to take this deposition in person. We would depose her in the afternoon. The next morning I would depose another key player, a specialist.
An easy and efficient two day adventure
Unfortunately, the primary care doctor was dealing with an elderly parent on the other side of the country so I agreed to do the deposition remotely.
No big deal, right? I was happy to accommodate.
The lawyers got on Zoom fine, as did the court reporter. We all sat there looking at each other. No doctor
The defense lawyer called and walked her through getting on.
The deposition started. A few minutes into it, the witness's screen froze. More calls. We resume. After a few questions, we the screen freezes again. This goes on repeatedly.
Finally, I gave up and we finished the deposition by telephone. That's not optimal - and it never has been, which is why this procedure which has been around a long time is not used very often. You have no ability to judge non-verbal cues. Worse, if the witness is a talker, like this one, you can't even figure out when an answer is done. You end up talking over each other. Not good
What are the lessons here?
I can't fault the semi-retired doctor. She understood the rudimentary process, but I suspect she had not done it often - at least not all on her own. Her computer may have been old. Maybe the internet connection was poor.
Nor can I fault the defense lawyer. I probably would have handled it just like he did.
I suppose I could have suspended the deposition and demanded that something be done so that we had a workable connection. However, you don't have to be a tech genius to know that there wasn't anything to be done right then. I had no enthusiasm for delaying the procedure. Nor did I have any interest in incurring the expense of traveling to the west coast.
Hence, I opted to muddle through. I am fairly confident I got what I needed, but I suspect the transcript will be a muddy one.
In hindsight, when we agreed to do the deposition remotely, I suppose I could have insisted that the witness go to a court reporter's office or some other facility where the odds of everything working would be better. In the future, I will certainly consider that.
We have no choice but to rely on our usually impressive modern appurtenances - and the convenience and efficiency of doing is huge.
Yesterday, however, was a pointed reminder that our marvelous technology is not perfect.
So, here's the bottom line: You always have to be prepared for stuff not working.
You might say that my assessment is not very helpful - maybe you would be right.
This morning, I will be happy to sit across a table and conduct a decidedly old-school deposition.