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Products Liability, Toxic Tort and Mass Tort

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Kelly Crawford Provides Insights on Remote v. Live Depositions for NJ Law Journal

May 24, 2023

Firm Co-Chair Kelly S. Crawford, head of Riker Danzig’s Products Liability, Toxic Tort and Mass Tort Practice, was quoted extensively in the New Jersey Law Journal’s May 23, 2023 story on the choice between in-person and remote depositions.  In “A Matter of Strategy Now: Remote Depositions Are Becoming a Tactical Issue,” Kelly says that she has clients who expect her to conduct live depositions, but opposing counsel often prefer to appear remotely.  She said she definitely sees “a push to want to try and do things remotely, particularly, from my perspective, from the plaintiffs bar.”  But she said from our clients’ perspective, “it’s still our preference to do them live and we do sometimes have debates about that with the court.”

She explained that, while people like the flexibility of gaining travel time and perhaps not having to be in the office to conduct remote depositions, ”for many types of witnesses and particular cases, there’s still a preference at least on our part for my clients in defense work to be face-to-face with the witness.”

She noted that sometimes it’s “important for me to be in the room. I want to know what the surroundings are, what distractions might be in the background. I don’t think you give the same type of 100% focus on the process when you’re remote. And interesting things happen at depositions when you’re not on the record. You may have a conversation with an adverse lawyer or even with the witness or just human interaction that you utterly lose when you’re doing things remotely.”

Kelly said that most judges have had experience conducting trials remotely and are sympathetic to her position.  “I think that they appreciate the importance of human interaction and what is lost [in remote proceedings]. And so it hasn’t been a difficult thing to advocate for. My sense is the courts really do appreciate that there’s a human factor in law.”

For the full article, go to Remote Depositions (subscription required).

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