Three weeks ago, I scheduled a deposition online. Eyebrows were raised and it was assumed that I was overreacting to what “everyone” thought was merely the flu. What a difference a few weeks makes… Interestingly, this may force a shift in the way that things are done in the future, ushering in an entirely new era where increased technology dependence is just one indication of the state of the world.
Deposition Online: The Florida Supreme Court COVID-19 Plan
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many courts are implementing alternate solutions to court procedures to expose as few people as possible to the virus. The plan includes the following procedures:
- Notaries and other persons qualified to administer an oath in the State of Florida may swear a witness remotely by audio-video communication technology from a location within the State of Florida, provided they can positively identify the witness; and
- If a witness is not located within the State of Florida, a witness may consent to being put on oath via audio-video communication technology by a person qualified to administer an oath in the State of Florida; and
- All rules of procedure, court orders, and opinions applicable to remote testimony, depositions, and other legal testimony, including the attestation of family law forms, that can be read to limit or prohibit the use of audio-video communications equipment to administer oaths remotely or to witness the attestation of family law forms, are hereby suspended, and will remain suspended until the expiration of the provisions of paragraph five in In Re: COVID-19 Emergency Procedures in the Florida State Courts, Fla. Admin. Order No. AOSC20-13 (March 13, 2020), and any orders extending AOSC20-13.DONE AND ORDERED at Tallahassee, Florida, on March 18, 2020.
This ruling is certainly an indication of the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, but I don’t believe that that is all it’s indicative of. In an era where more companies are permitting telecommuting, it’s possible that even the legal system may shift certain aspects of procedure to an online format. If this policy remains in effect even after the Covid-19 pandemic is over, I don’t believe it will be long before we’re seeing all witnesses via a monitor and voice connection too. Only time will tell how this will impact the legal system, but I suspect that it may help to move cases through the system a little faster and help to power through backlogs like those that are pending now as a result of the virus.