COVID-19, Florida’s Stay-at- Home Order,and Depositions
What is a deposition? How are West Palm Beach lawyers holding depositions while social distancing? If I have a deposition scheduled, will it be canceled because of the Coronavirus Disease(COVID-19) pandemic? How has technology made depositions possible during social distancing? Are my West Palm Beach estate lawyers still able to take depositions and attend hearings while this is all going on?
Depositions in Florida
A deposition is where someone is placed in front of a video tape and/or a court reporter, and asked questions by opposing counsel. The person being deposed is required to answer the questions truthfully and under oath.
Florida trial lawyers know that depositions can prove to be one of the most important events during a civil case, aside from the trial itself. It is an opportunity to gather important information from both people who may benefit a case and opposing parties.
Probate and business litigators may choose to depose people who may know relevant facts to the case. For example, in a probate case, a witness to a Florida will or POA document may be deposed. In an undue influence case, a doctor who has knowledge of the victim’s Alzheimer’s disease or Dementia may be deposed.
Social Distancing and Depositions
How can West Palm Beach probate lawyers hold depositions while staying safe during this pandemic? Under some circumstances, depositions are done telephonically. However, at the very least, the notary or person swearing in the witness is physically with the witness.
The Florida Governor’s stay-at-home order, effective April 3 at 12:01 a.m, restricts many activities that require people to leave their homes or come in contact with others. During these times, a witness having to physically be with a notary or court reporter could be dangerous.
Oaths Via Remote Audio-Visual Communication Equipment
The Supreme Court of Florida’s March 18,2020 Administrative Order addresses emergency procedures for the administering of oaths via remote audio-video communication equipment.
Per the order, notaries and other persons qualified to administer an oath, can swear witnesses in via remote video/audio communications. The notary or qualified person must be able to see the witness and his or her identification.
Therefore, as long as your Florida law firm is able to fully function virtually, like we are at Pankauski Hauser Lazarus, depositions can safely occur during the pandemic.
If you are looking to contest a Palm Beach will, file an appeal, or if you are involved with civil litigation in Florida, call (561)514-0900 ext.101 to consult with an experienced West Palm Beach attorney.