Preparing for a Deposition
What is a Deposition?
(The information provided below is only what we think is helpful during a deposition. It is not in lieu of advice from your attorney. Please pay close attention to everything your attorney tells you to do.)
The nature of a deposition is to find out what you, as a deponent, know about the facts of a lawsuit. The testimony you provide helps the attorneys for both parties prepare for a possible trial. Depositions are also used to determine your credibility as a witness before ever going to trial. Often, the testimony during a deposition may cause both parties to settle.
Everything you say is under oath and transcribed by the court reporter (that's us!) later to be made available as testimony during the trial.
It is crucial to know what is expected of you as a deponent rather than trying to wing it during the deposition.
In order to perform well during a deposition, you must be well prepared. You and your attorney(s) will most likely meet prior to the deposition to discuss the case and make ready any supporting documentation or other items that may be needed during the deposition. Such support documentation are called exhibits. Your attorney's goals with the deposition should be clear to you. Make sure you ask your attorney if you do not understand something. Attorneys sometimes will request to see your documents during your preparation time. These may be viewed by your attorney before the start of the deposition.
Experienced attorneys will take you through a mock Q and A session so you will feel more comfortable during the actual deposition.
Generally, the side scheduling the deposition is allowed to select the location at which it will take place. This may be at an attorney's office or elsewhere that is suitable for both sides. Conservative attire is usually recommended. Ask your attorney how you should dress. If the depo is to be videotaped, the goal may be to play the tape for a jury later on. Your appearance, demeanor, body language, and tone will be of great importance.
During the deposition you always have the right to consult with your attorney. If at any time you are unsure, unclear, or confused about anything, it is your duty and your attorney's responsibility to give you assistance.
- Listen carefully to all questions directed at you. You can wait a few seconds before answering to make sure you understand the question fully.
- If you are not sure about the question, you can always ask to have it reasked or even rephrased. Do not guess at the meaning of a question. Be certain you understand what you are being asked. Only the attorney should ask the court reporter to read the testimony back.
- Tell the truth.
- Be courteous and speak clearly for all the room to hear. (Speak slowly and your court reporter will love you!)
- Never argue or lose your temper. Take long breaths and try to relax.
- You must answer verbally and not shake your head yes or no.
- Answer all of the questions concisely. Your attorney may caution you about providing unnecessary detail.
- If you do not know the answer to a question, say so.
- Avoid casual banter or polite conversation with anyone other than your attorney.
- It is possible that you will be questioned about matters you consider confidential or private. Ask your attorney before answering a question if you are not sure whether to tell certain information or not.
- If your attorney objects to a question, wait. If he instructs you not to answer, do not answer.
- If you get tired or feel too emotional, you can request a break.
- If you make a mistake in answering a question, speak with your attorney and ask if you can correct it on the record.
- Avoid getting frustrated with detail-oriented and apparently redundant questions.
Friday, May 15, 2015