Moving to Allow Virtual Testimonies!


Headed by Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP, the group also sought clarification from the Advisory Committee on Civil Rules regarding a rule imposing a 100-mile limit on courts’ subpoena power for witnesses providing live testimony.

In a letter to the committee dated Feb. 13, the consortium, supported by attorneys from 12 U.S. law firms such as Faruqi & Faruqi LLP, Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check LLP, and Sperling & Slater LLC, proposed that the 100-mile limit should pertain to the location of the witness during virtual testimony rather than the courthouse where the trial is conducted.

The letter emphasized that these suggested amendments aimed to modernize civil trial practices, promoting a just, speedy, and cost-effective resolution of civil actions. The group acknowledged the Ninth Circuit’s July decision, asserting that the federal rules committee should address changes in legal proceedings due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the group advocated for in-person trial testimony as the preferred method, it argued that remote video testimony is preferable to using fragmented video clips from depositions.

Thomas Sobol, partner and executive committee member at Hagens Berman, conveyed the need for federal courts to formally recognize virtual testimony, citing the widespread use of remote video transmission in post-COVID society, the overuse of pre-recorded video for jurors, and the reluctance of many key fact witnesses to appear in court.

Sobol stated, “The right tools are out there, and we think the ends of the suggestions we have made are largely within the current spirit of the rules but need codification.”

This proposed shift towards live virtual testimony seeks to align legal practices with contemporary technological capabilities while addressing the challenges posed by the ongoing pandemic.


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