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Video Deposition Can be Permissible in a Criminal Trial

Depositions, though common in civil litigation, are not often part of a criminal trial or criminal discovery process in Tennessee. A conventional method of pre-trial discovery in a civil case, depositions are used only under exceptional circumstances in Tennessee criminal cases, and are only supposed to be used to preserve testimony for use at trial, from a witness not likely to be able to testify at trial. Their purpose is limited to preserving evidence for trial, rather than for pre-trial discovery. The decision of whether to grant or deny a motion to depose a witness in a criminal case is discretionary with the trial court. But the trial court must follow narrow guidelines for determining when exceptional circumstances exist. In the recent case of State v. Gold, E2012-00387-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.Crim.App. 8-15-2013), the Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed a trial court decision to allow the State to depose a witness who would be relocating outside the United States, and affirmed the use of the video at trial.

Video Deposition Can be Permissible in a Criminal Trial

Depositions, though common in civil litigation, are not often part of a criminal trial or criminal discovery process in Tennessee. A conventional method of pre-trial discovery in a civil case, depositions are used only under exceptional circumstances in Tennessee criminal cases, and are only supposed to be used to preserve testimony for use at trial, from a witness not likely to be able to testify at trial. Their purpose is limited to preserving evidence for trial, rather than for pre-trial discovery. The decision of whether to grant or deny a motion to depose a witness in a criminal case is discretionary with the trial court. But the trial court must follow narrow guidelines for determining when exceptional circumstances exist. In the recent case of State v. Gold, E2012-00387-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.Crim.App. 8-15-2013), the Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed a trial court decision to allow the State to depose a witness who would be relocating outside the United States, and affirmed the use of the video at trial.

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