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In Age Of COVID-19, Attorney Gets Creative And Holds Deposition In His Backyard

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Legal proceedings usually mean people in a stuffy room with blazers and suit jackets, but thanks to COVID-19, one lawyer is rethinking that.

Anthony Elman has come up with a unique way to carry on his cases, and he doesn't have to travel very far to do it. CBS 2's Tim McNicholas shows us how it works.

A trampoline, a Schwinn Falcon, and hibiscus flowers are not things you usually expect to see at a legal deposition.

"Normally, it's very, very stressful," Elman said. "You're in a room, you're intimidated, you've got questions firing at you."

A deposition is when someone involved in a court case is questioned and gives their statement on whatever happened.

Elman said it is usually done in a lawyer's office. During the pandemic, he's been using Zoom, but in this case, defense attorney Glenn Weber said Zoom was not a good choice.

"You really don't know necessarily if it's secure, and you're just not asking the questions face to face," he said. "Just not the best environment."

So, weather-dependent, the two sides reached a compromise.

"And I said to everybody, 'How about my backyard?' and here we are," Elman said.

The commute is a little easier for Elman; but as the host, he provides the masks, sanitary wipes, water, and Gatorade. He even lent an extension cord to the court reporter, who logs the whole thing to be used later on in the case.

This deposition was about a car accident involving Elman's client, Alicia Estrada.

"It gives a nice breeze, so it relaxes things a little bit," Estrada said.

Weber and the court reporter both said for them, this is a new one. Another lawyer we asked said they've heard of drive-by will signings, but not backyard depositions.

Elman said, as far as he knows, it's the first of its kind.

"We need to be creative. We need to throw everything we can at this virus and let business continue," Elman said. "Otherwise, we're going to be paralyzed."

Weber said he plans on recommending outdoor depositions in other cases.

"It's a good way to come to a compromise in a case where people are concerns about the virus," he said.

Perhaps best of all, you can skip the jacket and tie.

Elman said, in a discovery deposition, the court does not need to approve the venue. A court reporter did have to swear in his client, but then it was business as usual.

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