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Deposit FAQs, tips and tricks

You have been asked to testify under oath through a deposition. Thorough preparation on your part is essential. Below are answers to the most frequently asked questions along with some tips and tricks to make your return go smoothly.

Deposit FAQs

  • What is a deposition?

A deposition is the process of giving testimony under oath. It is an opportunity for a lawyer to question a witness or party under oath.

  • Who can be deposited?

Any person (or entity) with knowledge of detectable information regarding the claim.

  • Why is a deposition important?

A deposition allows a party to:

  • Set to another party or a witness.

  • Eliminate surprises at trial.

  • Find other witnesses or evidence.

  • Preserve testimony for trial.

  • Evaluate the credibility of the declarant.

  • Obtain information from non-party witnesses.

  • Preserving the testimony of witnesses who may not be available at trial.

  • Challenge the testimony of the party or witness.

  • Assess the strengths and weaknesses of your case and your opponent’s case.

  • Where will my deposition take place?

Depositions usually take place in the conference room of the attorney for the declaring party. While there is some maneuvering as to where a deposition will take place, tradition dictates that your deposition will take place in your attorney’s office.

Also, in Oregon, it can only be deposited in the county in which you live. For example, if you live in Multnomah County and appear in Washington County, you may be able to challenge the location of the deposition.

  • Who will be in the room?

All parties to a lawsuit and their respective attorneys may attend a deposition. The deponent (the person who is going to be deposed) will be present and the presence of his lawyer is also allowed. There will also be a court reporter and possibly a videographer.

  • When are stools usually taken?

A plea may be taken at any time after the defense attorney’s deadline for appearance in a case, generally 30 days after service of the summons and complaint.

The timing of the statements also depends on the case and strategic issues.

QUICK DEPOSIT TIPS

He always tells the truth. Before beginning his deposition, the court reporter will put him under oath. Lying or telling lies will only make the situation worse.

Answer only the question that is asked. The examiner is not your friend. You must not volunteer information or assist the examiner in any way. This is not the time to overshare.

Please wait for the entire question to be asked before answering. There is nothing worse than doing the lawyer’s job for him: listen to the whole question and don’t answer what you think he is asking.

If you don’t understand a question, ask the lawyer to clarify it for you. Once again, the lawyer is asking you questions. Don’t help him by guessing what he’s asking you.

Never guess or estimate. What you say in a deposition will follow you through the rest of the case: a wrong guess in a deposition can undermine you at trial.

Speak slowly, calmly, and confidently. Please note that the statement will likely be recorded and may be played back at trial. Regardless of the questioning, maintain your composure and remain calm.

Don’t argue, get angry, curse, or raise your voice. Suppose this deposition transcript is to be published on the front page of the New York Times: how do you want it to present itself to a jury of your peers?

Sit up straight and dress appropriately. You want to be comfortable but professional. In my experience, dressing well helps your confidence, which leads to a less stressful return. In some cases, your statement may be videotaped and you will want to appear pleasing to the jury.

Answer only as to what you know. For example, if you are asked to provide the names of all the people present at a meeting, but you cannot remember the names of all the parties present, it is appropriate to respond “I don’t remember.” If you are asked to list the names of all the people present at a meeting you did not attend, the appropriate response is “I don’t know.”

Ask to see exhibits. If an examiner questions you about a document, always look at it before answering the questions. Take care to ensure that the document is accurate; if it isn’t, say something.

If you need to take a break, ask for a break or nudge your lawyer.

If you make a mistake, tell your attorney so they can correct it during the deposition. There is nothing worse than leaving an incorrect statement in the registry. Be sure to talk to your attorney on a break and correct any errors that may be there. It is easier to settle in the deposition than in the middle of the trial.

Never say “never” or “always”. There is always an exception, and if you are too absolute, smart opposing counsel will find it and undermine your credibility.

Preparation is the key to being an effective witness, so be sure to discuss any areas of concern with your lawyer and review all relevant documents before you testify.

© 09/18/2018 Hunt & Associates, PC All rights reserved.

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