September 26, 2019
A deposition is a legal process to gather sworn evidence from a witness. Always be aware that your deposition can make or break your case as it arms your opponent with legal resources to use against you in the trial. Therefore, you should know how to conduct yourself during your deposition.
A deposition is used to gather accurate pre-trial information to discover what a witness may know. The testimony is preserved for later use in court. Depositions are usually conducted in an attorney’s office and also involves a court reporter who keeps a verbatim record of whatever is said during the testimony. The witness is under oath and must answer all questions posed by the deposing attorney.
A subpoena is a written order that legally binds a party to provide testimony on a specific issue about a case. For a deposition subpoena, your lawyer has to present a sworn statement for the trial. If you don’t want to give a deposition, you can communicate this to the judge in advance. Refusing to give testimony when formally requested may result in a penalty for contempt of court.
You’re under oath when you give a deposition, just as you would be if you were testifying at trial. It might be tempting to answer quickly and get it over with, but you should think about your responses before you speak. Generally, when you are undergoing a deposition, you should not:
Here are a few things that typically follow a deposition:
After a deposition becomes part of a public court record, it may be accessible well after your case is over.
In some legal disputes, the parties may be able to reach a mediation or an agreement without the need for a trial. However, depending on the case evidence and the testimony given during the deposition, mediation might be attained immediate, or the parties might engage in lengthier negotiations before deciding.
Most depositions fall in the two-hour range, but they can last from one hour to several days. A lot depends on how complicated the case is as well as the witness giving the deposition. The lawyer’s experience may also affect the length.
Before a deposition, review the records and facts of the case and have a clear understanding of opposing counsel’s goals and strategies. Prepare thoroughly with your attorney because opposing counsel will be sizing you up as a witness. Approach the deposition with humility, confidence, and a good understanding of how to answer difficult questions honestly and skillfully.
Every attorney will need to know how to take a useful deposition. Also, they must know how to prepare their deposition witnesses to eliminate surprises. Here are some tips for lawyers to prepare a witness:
The keys to giving great testimony include:
Preparation and professional demeanor are crucial to providing effective depositions in legal proceedings. Here are some dos and don’ts to beat a deposition:
Deposition plays an essential role in the legal process. These questions will help you perform reliable depositions that can be confidently used during a court hearing or other legal process.
Colleen Jilio-Ryan is the Owner of Jilio-Ryan, a Tustin based premiere law consulting firm. The firm along with its certified court reporters is dedicated to providing the highest quality deposition and litigation services to attorneys, insurance companies, and corporations. With her sincere efforts, Colleen is committed to meeting the highest standards of the legal industry, and is an industry leader when it comes to on-time court reporting and deposition scheduling.