Has anyone ever undertaken legal work?

10 replies [Last post]
Jenp
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Joined: Sep 16 2007

I've been asked to film a video to be used as evidence in court, so the person concerned doesn't have to face the ordeal of going to court. Has anyone done this? Any pitfalls?

Barry Hunter
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Joined: Nov 30 2001

Had to cover a break in to a house once so that a lady could get her personal possesions back following a very acrimonious divorce, done with the full knowledge of both solicitors & local police.

Probably best to consult the persons brief to see what is needed.

Barry Hunter videos4all.org

Jenp
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Joined: Sep 16 2007

I know what's needed. Just recording a day in the life of the person then editing it down to a watchable length. I've been hired by the solicitors. It's just that a friend put me off. He's done expert witness type work and been called as a witness then really interrogated in quite a nasty and agressive way by the oppoosing sides barrister. I doubt that would happen though - surely I just record things the way they are and edit them in an unbiased way and I won't be asked to go to court???

sleepytom
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Joined: Sep 15 2000

going to court isn't supposed to be pleasant.

either side might call on you to give evidence and then you might be cross examined by the other side. The point of this is to try and uncover the truth.

how are the courts supposed to know that you have edited in an unbiased way if they are not able to ask you questions? If you cannot cope with being questioned then don't do the job.

it is never going to be that pleasant a process, if you think you might not be able to cope with the questioning of your professionalism and motivations then don't do it. (on the other hand if you think your role will help the process of justice then you may feel a duty to do it regardless of how nasty it could get)

You can contact me at http://tombassford.org
People interested in live production might like to check out http://atemuser.com 

Jenp
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Joined: Sep 16 2007

Is the videographer really likely to get called to court?

Gavin Gration
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Joined: Jul 29 1999

Make sure you have written instruction with a promise to pay your reasonable fees. If it's PI work (sound like it) then make certain they agree to pay you on your terms and NOT when the case is concluded - unless you don't mind waiting a couple of years to get paid.

Shoot the footage asper solicitor instructions.

Give a timecoded copy of the rushes to the instructing solicitor & ask them to provide a paper edit - then edit accordingly.

When you submit an exhibit to the Court you need to include a witness statement. Depending on the Court (criminal/civil) the format of the statement required will vary.

The solicitor can help you preparing a statement but it's much better in your own words.

Ask your expert friend for a template.

Keep your statement simple. Set out who you are and your experience. State what you have been instructed to do. Explain the work carried out to produce the exhibit(s). List any exhibits you produce. Include a statement of truth.

Your rushes could also be requested. Keep copies of everything.

paulears
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Joined: Jul 8 2008

The word EDIT jumped out. I think you need specific instructions from the law firm. From what I know of american video depositions, the video needs to be unedited, so if necessary it could be analysed and determined as either accurate, or potentially compromised. Evidence of this type is also weighted by the judge in that cross examination is not possible.

It's probably very unlikely, but what happens if the person edits the video to remove pauses while the person thought up the next bit, or perhaps they got something wrong, or out of sequence, so you shot it again? Could you end up in court yourself, being cross examined as to how the recording was made and edited?

US depositions on video are usually one shot, un-directed things. Ask the legal beagles what exactly they want.

Jenp
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Joined: Sep 16 2007

I'm filming the person concerned living their life from waking up to sleeping so they'll be potentially 16 hours of footage that they want edited down to 30 minutes maximum.

I wonder if I would be cross-examined too!

MAGLINK
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Joined: Mar 8 2007

So the person doesn't want to go to court but is happy to be filmed all day to show what they are like?

Hmmm sounds a bit fishy to me and smacks of someone trying to hide something, I wouldn't touch it with a barge pole as it all sounds too much like the legal team trying to use video to manipulate the law in the favour of the person being fllmed.

Video testimony can be used but it has to be sanctioned by the legal authorities and under the agreement of both legal teams.

Gavin Gration
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Joined: Jul 29 1999

Gary - day-in-the-life videos are commonplace.

Nothing sinister about it.

** Going to Court - if your statement is set out in the format I have suggested you should not need to attend. Sometimes you may be called to attend if either side are being fussy - If pushed all you will need to do is read out your statement **. Make it clear that your rushes are available to the Court on request.

colin rowe
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Joined: Dec 16 2000

I have shot 3 videos for court use in the last 3 years, 2 for medical negligence cases and 1 for a property boundry dispute. I have never been asked to attend court

Colin Rowe