Authorities

 United States - Central Authority (Art. 2) and practical information
Address

Central Authority(ies):

U.S. Department of Justice

Contact details:
Address: U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Division
Office of International Judicial Assistance
Benjamin Franklin Station
P.O. Box 14360
Washington, D.C. 20004
United States of America
Telephone: +1 (202) 514 6700
Fax: +1 (202) 514 6584
E-mail:

[email protected]

General website: http://www.justice.gov/civil/common/oija/oija.html
Contact person: Ms Jeanne Davidson, Director
Languages spoken by staff: English

Practical Information
(The following information was provided by the relevant State authorities or was obtained from the replies to the Evidence Convention Questionnaires
Blocking statutes: No blocking statute in force.
Chapter I
(Letters of Requests)
Transmission of Letters of Requests: Letters of Request are sent directly from a judicial authority in the requesting State to the Central Authority of the requested State.
Authority responsible for informing of the time and place of the execution of Letter of Request (Art. 7): The U.S. Department of Justice attorney assigned to execute a Letter of Request would generally provide notice to the parties and their representatives, unless it is more practical for the Central Authority to do so.  If notice is to be provided to the requesting authority, it would generally be provided by the Central Authority.
Presence of judicial personnel at the execution of the Letter of Request (Art. 8): Declaration of applicability. See Competent Authority.
Privileges and duties existing under the law of States other than the State of origin and the State of execution (Art. 11): No declaration of applicability.
Translation requirements (Arts 4(2) and 33):  Accepts Letters of Requests written in or translated into English and French. The United States will also accept Letters of Request in Spanish for execution in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico

The execution of Letters of Request in French may take longer. See declaration.  

Costs relating to execution of the Letters of Request (Arts 14(2)(3) and 26): The United States seeks reimbursement of costs under Articles 14(2) and 26. If execution of a Letter of Request requires additional costs for services beyond what is normally available to the Department of Justice office assigned to the matter, and/or requires the retaining of a private entity to provide those services, any costs and/or fees associated with the service may be requested from the forwarding authority.

To the extent stenographic services are required, the requesting state may be required to reimburse any fees or costs that are assessed by the stenographer.

Time for execution: On average, approximately 10 months.
Acts that typically do not fall within the functions of the judiciary (Art. 12): Information and examples (not an exhaustive list) of the types of requests that cannot be executed under the legal system of the United States.
http://www.justice.gov/civil/common/oija/documents/guidance/Public%20FAQs.pdf
Art 23 pre-trial discovery of documents: Letter of Request may be executed (no declaration).
Information about domestic rules on the taking of evidence:  28 Code of Federal Regulations 0.49 sets the function of the Civil Division of the U.S. Department of Justice as U.S. Central Authority for the Hague Evidence Convention.

Judicial Assistance - Obtaining Evidence Abroad, U.S. Department of State

Under U.S. law, 28 U.S. Code (U.S.C.) § 1782, foreign judicial authorities or parties to proceedings can request the assistance of U.S. courts in taking evidence for use in a proceeding in a foreign or international tribunal without filing a request under the Hague Evidence Convention. Evidence may be obtained from both parties and non-parties to the foreign litigation. Section 1782 does not require that the courts of the country where the foreign action is pending be willing to offer reciprocal assistance.

Witness examination under Chapter I
Should Letters of Request include specific questions to be used during witness examination or only a list of matters to be addressed? The U.S. Central Authority requires that the Letter of Request provide sufficient detail as to the information being sought so as to permit the U.S. Department of Justice attorney who will implement the request to know what questions must be asked or information solicited at a witness examination.  Although providing specific questions helps ensure that the requested information can be obtained and the Letter of Request properly executed, a list of matters to be addressed is permitted as well so long as it is clear as to the specific information that is being sought.
Is it a public or private hearing? Although depositions are not typically private in the sense that they are not closed as a matter of law to non-parties, they are arranged privately by the Department of Justice lawyer and the witness, or if appropriate, the witness's counsel, and the testimony is taken at a location selected by the Department of Justice as convenient.  As a practical matter, there is seldom an opportunity for unrelated parties or individuals to be aware of such depositions or to otherwise attend.  As appropriate and if justified, a witness can seek an order of a court requiring that the testimony be confidential and not publicly available.
Do the judicial authorities "blue-pencil" Letters of Requests (i.e. rephrase, restructure and / or strike out objectionable questions or offensive wording so that a Letter of Request may be executed under the laws of the requested State)? Yes.
Is the witness provided in advance with a copy of the questions / matters to be addressed as contained in the Letter of Request? There is no law within the United States that requires or prohibits Department of Justice lawyers from sharing the questions/matters to be addressed at a deposition with the witness in advance of a scheduled deposition.  To the extent the voluntary testimony is going to be provided by notarized affidavit by the witness, the questions must be provided in advance of the testimony in order to prepare the affidavit.  If transcribed testimony is to be provided at a deposition it is within the discretion of the assigned Department of Justice lawyer to provide the witness in advance with a copy of the subject of the deposition or the questions if deemed appropriate.
Are documents produced by the witness authenticated by the court? No.
Is an oath generally administered to the witness? If the testimony is provided by deposition, the stenographer will administer an oath.  If the testimony is provided by affidavit, generally the affidavit will be signed by the witness and notarized.  There is, however, no requirement under U.S. laws that either approach be used, and responsive testimony can be provided without an oath or signed affidavit.
Can the witness be made subject to further examination and recall? Yes. Other than as provided by certain time duration limitations set by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, there is generally no prohibition under our laws or procedures for a witness to be made subject to subsequent examination if the testimony has not been completed or all questions identified in the Letter of Request have not been answered by the conclusion of the first examination.  However, if the basis for recall is a request by the requesting state's forwarding authority for additional testimony on new matters, a second request will have to be provided.
Are there sanctions for non-appearance of witness? Civil contempt.
Must interpreters who assist with the witness examination be court-certified? No.  There is no uniform national rule requiring certification of court interpreters in all cases, although in practice most courts at both the federal and state level do rely on certified interpreters where available. 
How is the testimony transcribed? Testimony can be transcribed by stenographic means, by videography or by any other appropriate mechanism agreed upon by the parties.
Chapter II
(Taking of evidence by diplomatic officers, consular agents and commissioners)
Article 15 Applicable.
Article 16 Applicable. No prior permission is required.
Article 17 Applicable. No prior permission is required.
Article 18 Applicable. See competent authority.
Taking of evidence by video-links
(under either chapter)
 
Chapter I
Are there legal obstacles to the use of video links? No.
Technology used: No information available.
Level of interpretation required: Interpretation may be provided by the parties or their counsel.
Simultaneous or in sequence interpretation: No information available.
Interpretation required in which jurisdiction? No information available.
Who pays for the interpretation? No information available.
How would a request for evidence be handled if witness not willing? Although there is no prohibition under U.S. law for a witness to voluntarily submit to an international video conference in which his or her testimony will be obtained by a foreign court or foreign litigators, see 28 U.S.C. section 1782(b), the U.S. Central Authority is aware of no U.S. law that would permit a federal court to compel a witness in the United States to provide such testimony before a foreign tribunal or proceeding.  The U.S. Central Authority is only able to execute a Hague Evidence Convention request that can be compelled by a U.S. court under our laws and the testimony taken by an attorney of the Department of Justice.  For this reason, we cannot execute a request that asks the U.S. Central Authority to compel a witness to attend an international video conference deposition conducted by lawyers or foreign courts outside of the United States.  The parties to the proceedings and the requesting court, however, are free to make their own independent arrangements for a voluntary international video deposition with a witness within the United States.
Chapter II
Are there legal obstacles to the use of video links? No.
Technology used: No information available.
Level of interpretation required: No information available.
Simultaneous or in sequence interpretation: Simultaneous or in sequence interpretation may be used.
Interpretation required in which jurisdiction? No information available.
Who pays for the interpretation? Costs are borne by the litigants. Consular fees for the taking of depositions are set forth at Title 22, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 22.1.
Bilateral or multilateral agreements Bilateral Consular Conventions - U.S. Department of State.
Useful links: Taking voluntary depositions of willing witnesses - U.S. Department of State, Foreign Affairs Manual, Volume 7 - Consular Affairs 
7 FAM 920

Title 22, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 92.49 - 92.66 addresses procedures to be followed in consular depositions abroad.

Digest of U.S. Practice in International Law - The U.S. Department of State provided guidance about the taking of evidence in the United States to the Chiefs of Mission of foreign embassies in Washington, D.C. on February 3, 1976 and June 4, 2003.

http://www.justice.gov/civil/common/oija/documents/guidance/Public%20FAQs.pdf 

(This page was last updated on 31 July 2014)

Conventions