What is a deposition?
A deposition is your testimony under oath. You will be asked questions by the opposing attorney, and the questions and your answers will be recorded by an official court reporter. The only difference in a deposition is there is no judge presiding. Your attorney has the right to ask questions of you during the deposition to get clarification on a confusing question.
Purpose of A Deposition
Opposing counsel has every right to take your deposition under any of four circumstances. (1) They want to find out what facts you know regarding the issues in your lawsuit. (2)They want you to testify to a specific story so they know what it will be at the trial. (3) Your testimony given in a deposition may be read at trial. They hope to catch you in a lie or omission so they can claim that you are not a truthful person and cannot be trusted. (4) It may be used to narrow the issues in your case. Stipulations of fact and other agreements may be made during the course of the deposition to substantially shorten the trial.
Suggestions For Preparation
- ALWAYS TELL THE TRUTH when giving your deposition. Failure to do so can lead to perjury.
- LISTEN TO THE QUESTION. Do not answer any question until you hear the whole thing. If you did not hear the question asked, ask the other attorney to repeat it.
- UNDERSTAND THE QUESTION BEFORE ANSWERING. Do not hesitate to ask the other attorney to repeat or rephrase the question.
- PAUSE AFTER EACH QUESTION. This gives you an opportunity to think and make an appropriate response.
- DO NOT GUESS at any answer.
- RIGHT TO CONFER WITH LAWYER. At any time during the deposition you will have the right to confer with your attorney privately regarding the question and any proposed answer.
- DO NOT VOLUNTEER INFORMATION. Answer the question that is asked of you and then stop.
- NO EXPLANATIONS. Never attempt to explain or justify your answer.
- BE VERBAL. Speak loudly enough so everyone can hear you. Nods and hand gestures cannot be recorded by the court reporter.
- REMAIN CALM AND POLITE. Do not lose your temper no matter how hard you are pressed.
- STATE ESTIMATES for any questions regarding time or distance unless you are sure of the exact number.
- QUOTING OTHERS. Make clear if you are paraphrasing comments made by you or other persons.
- NEVER SAY NEVER. Eliminate words such as “never” and “always” from your vocabulary.
- MISTAKES. If at anytime during the deposition you realize you have given an erroneous answer or you have misspoken, correct your answer as soon as you recognize your error.
- RELAX. You are not expected to know by memory all details of what was said when, by whom and where over a long period of time.
- DO NOT BE AFRAID. There is no one who is going to harm you for answering questions truthfully.
- NO JOKES. Never joke in a deposition. Try to avoid wisecracks and obscenities.
- DO NOT CONVERSE WITH OPPONENT. After the deposition is over, do not chat with your opponents or their attorney.
- DO NOT SPECULATE. Do not try to figure out before you answer whether a truthful answer will help or hinder your case. Answer truthfully.
After your the process is concluded, the court reporter will transcribe the record into a typed document. You will then be given an opportunity to read the deposition and make corrections to misspellings, dates, or other such changes. You will also be asked to give a reason for any changes. It is strongly advised that you purchase or request a copy of your deposition, as it may be hard to recall your testimony verbatim.