Video Recording a Deposition, Part 5: Pro Se Litigants May Not Personally Record

Pro se litigants are often particularly frustrating.  Given that they often lack the financial resources to retain counsel, they may seek to limit the expenses incurred pursuing their litigation.  This may include attempting to save money by just video recording depositions.

In Carvalho v. Reid the pro se plaintiff appeared for her deposition “and sought, over the objection of defense counsel, to videotape the deposition using her own videotape equipment.”[1] The Magistrate Judge was called and plaintiff was denied permission to video record “for failure to provide proper notice to the defendant, as required by Rule 30(b)(3) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and for failure to arrange to have the videotaping conducted by an appropriate person, as required by Rules 30(b)(4) and 28(c).”

In Duncan v. Husted a pro se plaintiff who had run for President of the United States as an independent candidate at least three times filed suit concerning changes to Ohio election law pertaining to independent candidates qualifying for the ballot.[2]  He sought to depose Ohio’s Secretary of State and at least two state senators.  The plaintiff indicated he would video record the depositions himself, leading to a motion for a protective order.  The motion was granted.  Given the Advisory Committee’s comment and that the pro se litigant “is the proposed recorder – and given that there would be no other means of recording – the Court concludes that, unless the parties stipulate otherwise, a Rule 28 Officer must operate the recording equipment.”  A subsequent ruling in the case reiterated this holding.  “[T]he 1993 Advisory Committee Notes to Fed.R.Civ.P. 30 state that the Rule ‘requires that all depositions be recorded by an officer designated or appointed under Rule 28 and contains special provisions designed to provide basic safeguards to assure the utility and integrity of recordings taken other than stenographically.’”[3]

[1] 193 F.R.D. 149, 152 (S.D.N.Y. 1995); accord Meacham v. Church, No. 2:08-cv-535, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 38393, 2010 WL 1576711 (D. Utah Apr. 19, 2010) (pro se plaintiff may not record deposition himself).
[2] No. 2:13-cv-1157, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 130266, 2014 WL 4659863 (S.D. Ohio Sep. 17, 2014).
[3] Duncan v. Husted, No. 2:13-cv-1157, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 45373, 2015 WL 1540550 (S.D. Ohio Apr. 7, 2015).