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Bringing Deposition Testimony to Life with Actors


— June 21, 2004

Professional actors don’t just portray witnesses on TV-they play them in real trials.

In a move to connect more effectively with juries, a number of attorneys are using professional actors to play people who were deposed, but who are out of subpoena range and who lawyers could not-or preferred not to-bring into court.

Juries like it because actors bring a piece of themselves to a role that used to be reserved for paralegals, secretaries or associates, many of whom nervously read in monotones, lawyers say. An actor can make a witness seem credible, confident and authoritative-or not, as the role necessitates.

No appellate court has yet cried “foul” or perhaps even been asked to, but the practice is controversial. That’s because lawyers not only get to cast the talent-by choosing someone attractive or repellent-but they direct them in how to play the role.

I would fight hard if an opponent tried to do this. And isn’t it wiser to videotape a deposition if a witness is likely to be unable or unwilling to appear at trial? Details here from The National Law Journal.


Professional actors don’t just portray witnesses on TV-they play them in real trials.

In a move to connect more effectively with juries, a number of attorneys are using professional actors to play people who were deposed, but who are out of subpoena range and who lawyers could not-or preferred not to-bring into court.

Juries like it because actors bring a piece of themselves to a role that used to be reserved for paralegals, secretaries or associates, many of whom nervously read in monotones, lawyers say. An actor can make a witness seem credible, confident and authoritative-or not, as the role necessitates.

No appellate court has yet cried “foul” or perhaps even been asked to, but the practice is controversial. That’s because lawyers not only get to cast the talent-by choosing someone attractive or repellent-but they direct them in how to play the role.

I would fight hard if an opponent tried to do this. And isn’t it wiser to videotape a deposition if a witness is likely to be unable or unwilling to appear at trial? Details here from The National Law Journal.

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