One of the most popular and most efficient ways to understand a set of facts during a law suit is a deposition – where a causal quesiton-and-answer session can occur under oath. I often get asked – what is it? how should I prepare? should I be nervous?
A deposition is the testimony of a witness given outside of court. Often times, a deposition will take place at the questioning attorney’s office, but it can also take place at a hotel conference room, the witness’s workplace, or most any place that is convenient for all parties involved. Depositions usually occur before trial, but in some rare circumstances, may be scheduled during a trial.
The witness being deposed (or deponent), gives oral testimony, which is typically reduced to writing by a neutral third party (usually a court reporter). The court reporter also administers an oath or affirmation that witnesses must take before testifying. Some attorneys may also choose to tape/video record the deposition.
Typically, the deponent is an opposing party in the action. This means that a plaintiff’s attorney usually provides legal notice to the defendant’s attorney that he/she is being deposed, or vice versa. It is important to note that if the witness is not a party to the action, or is hesitant to testify, a subpoena must be served on them which legally requires him/her to appear. Any party to the action and their attorney hold the right to attend a deposition, ask questions, and make appropriate objections.
The attorney who requested the deposition will usually begin by explaining to the deponent why they are here and ensure the deponent understands the testimony is given under oath and can be used during trial. The attorney should also instruct the deponent to verbally answer all questions, and to avoid communicative gestures such as shaking the head or nodding in agreement, as these actions cannot be transcribed. After this, the attorney asks questions of the witness-the “direct examination” of the deposition. The deponent’s attorney may object to questions as he/she deems necessary. After the deposition has been completed, the court reporter creates a bound transcript of the entire deposition. Both attorneys will review it for any errors or any further questions/concerns.
Being a party to a deposition can be stressful and a bit intimidating. One of the most important things to remember is that every deposition is different, so do your best to be thoroughly prepared and always tell the truth. Upcoming blogs will highlight preparation tips and common questions asked during personal injury and long term disability depositions.
The author, Joshua Bonnici, is the managing attorney at BONNICI LAW GROUP, APC, who represents injured and disabled individuals fight for fair and just outcomes. Feel free to learn more and reach out for a free case evaluation, at: the firm website, firstname.lastname@example.org, or at: 619-259-5199.
Disclaimer: while the jokes may be corny and the tone casual, none of the above is intended to be legal advice, and does not amount to any attorney-client relationship. Should you wish to investigate attorney representation, please contact us for a consultation to discuss a possible attorney-client relationship. Thank you!