New law: Experts can testify by video with parties’ consent

Expert witnesses can testify at criminal and civil trials via two-way interactive video under 2012 PA 68, signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder.

Under MCL 600.2164a

(1) If a court has determined that expert testimony will assist the trier of fact and that a witness is qualified to give the expert testimony, the court may, with the consent of all parties, allow the expert witness to be sworn and testify at trial by video communication equipment that permits all the individuals appearing or participating to hear and speak to each other in the court, chambers, or other suitable place. A verbatim record of the testimony shall be taken in the same manner as for other testimony.

(2) Unless good cause is shown to waive the requirement, a party who wishes to present expert testimony by video communication equipment under subsection (1) shall submit a motion in writing and serve a copy of the motion on all other parties at least 7 days before the date set for the trial.

(3) A party who initiates the use of video communication equipment under this section shall pay the cost for its use, unless the court otherwise directs.

The law takes effect June 1 and applies to cases filed on or after that date.

The Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan backed the new law. The State Bar of Michigan Board of Commissioners supported the bill in concept but would have preferred implementation either by a court rule or rule of evidence promulgated by the Michigan Supreme Court.

The measure is expected to reduce travel time and expenses associated with using expert witnesses.

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The cherry, or Apple, on the sundae

Southfield law firm Jaffe Raitt Heuer & Weiss decided that the best way to encourage its attorneys and paralegals to keep their personal technology up-to-date was to pay for them to do it.

So at year-end bonus time, it gave 44 of the firm’s lawyers and paralegals a little something extra to help them stay updated; the firm gave them $750 Apple gift certificates to use toward the cause, so no poor souls need worry about trying to make do with a retro original version of the iPad.

The firm has for the past several years hosted regular seminars on the evolution of new technologies, and how its people can make the most of them, especially when they are working remotely and need to access information and the firm’s document management system from the road.