Advice for Depositions

Depositions are a discovery device used during litigation. (The other forms of discovery are Interrogatories, Requests for Production of Documents, Subpoena Duces Tecum and Requests for Admissions.) Depositions are held at an attorney’s office with a court reporter present to administer the oath to the deponents, as well as take the proceedings down for the record. The scope of this discovery device is broader than any other because you can ask any question that may lead to admissible evidence. This means that many things that are stated during depositions may not be admissible as evidence at a trial, but there is a right to ask such questions. The form of the questions and some privileged information may be objectionable.

If the other side is being deposed you may hear some things that will shock you and may even be absolute lies. Be prepared to retain a calm exterior and composure at all times.

Although depositions are expensive because they entail the use of a court reporter and usually a transcript of the proceedings, it is a most valuable tool, as you learn what the other side is thinking, the type of witness you are dealing with, what they will say on the stand and the other side’s strategy. You can request production of other documents as certain facts are elicited during depositions. Lastly, it is also a great opportunity to have parties and counsel engage in settlement negotiations.

Below are some recommendations to help you use the deposition process effectively:

  • Please dress appropriately. In general, I prefer people to wear their “Sunday best”. Men do not have to wear suits, dress slacks and shirt are acceptable. Women should not wear excessive jewelry or make up.
  • Make sure you review your case file, particularly any response to discovery, as well as the pleadings (petitions, motions and orders).
  • Please bring a copy of the entire file of your case to the deposition.
  • When you are being deposed never argue with opposing counsel.
    • Use the utmost politeness, without any sarcasm or raising of your voice.
    • Never ask questions. It is your role to answer questions.
    • Do not respond beyond what has been asked or offer any other responses. Make no editorial remarks.
    • If you do not know the exact answer state that it is only an estimate.
    • If you do not remember something, say you do not remember.
    • Always answer truthfully, no matter what the question is, unless I object.
    • Retain a calm exterior at all times.

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