Preparing for a deposition
What is a deposition?
The purpose of a deposition is to find out what you, as a witness, know about the issues on the case. The information you provide helps the attorneys on both sides prepare for a trial of the lawsuit. Depositions are also used to access your credibility and demeanor before the trial. Sometimes your testimony during a deposition may merit a settlement.
All statements you make are under oath and transcribed into written form that will later be made available as testimony during the trial.
Preparing for a deposition.
It is important to know what is expected of you rather than trying to figure it out during the deposition.
The key to performing well during a deposition is to be well prepared for
the procedure. You and your attorney should always meet prior to the deposition
to discuss the case and make preparations in regards to supporting documentation
or other items that may be needed during the deposition. Your attorney's objectives
with the deposition should be clarified. Attorneys often request documents
and during your preparation, these may be reviewed in advance of the deposition.
Sometimes your attorney will take you through a mock question-and-answer session so you will feel more comfortable during the actual deposition.
The day of the deposition.
Generally, the party setting the deposition is entitled to select the location at which it will take place. This may be at an attorney's office or, if videotaping is required, at a location providing these services.
Conservative attire is recommended. If the session is to be videotaped, the tape may be played for the jury later. Your attire, attitude and body language will be of great importance.
Be on time.
During the deposition.
During the entire deposition you always have the right to consult counsel. If at any time you are unsure of anything, it is your right and your attorney's job to provide you with assistance.
Listen carefully to questions. You can pause before answering to make sure you understand the question.
If you are unclear about the question, you can ask to have it rephrased. Don't guess at the meaning of a question, but make sure you are clear as to what is being asked.
Tell the truth.
Unlike written discovery, opposing attorneys can ask questions that may put you in an uncomfortable position. While your attorney is usually present, you may have to answer those questions without help.
Never argue or lose your temper. Take deep breaths and try to relax your muscles.
You must answer out loud and not shake your head "yes" or "no".
Speak slowly and clearly.
Answer all questions concisely. Your attorney may warn you against providing unnecessary information.
If you do not know the answer to a question, admit it.
Avoid casual conversation with anyone other than your attorney.
- Keep your voice low except when answering questions.
- It is possible that you may be questioned about matters you consider private or personal. If you have a question about whether you should divulge certain information, consult your attorney before answering the question.
- If your attorney objects to a question, confer with him. If he instructs you not to answer, don't.
- If you experience fatigue or get emotional, you can request a break.
- If you realize you made a mistake, confer with your attorney and ask if you can correct it during the deposition.
- Try to avoid becoming frustrated with detail-oriented and redundant questioning.
- If you are unsure of times, measurements or dates, give bracketed estimates.
Cases have been lost when witnesses are fidgety, argumentative, appear disheveled, forget information, are arrogant or flippant, who lose their temper, joke around, change answers frequently or give inaccurate information.
We cover Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties. Corporate headquarters are located in Boca Raton, and deposition suites are available in Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Coral Gables, Sunrise and Royal Palm Beach Florida. We have network court reporting affiliates in place to meet your needs for other geographic locations and can offer you one point of contact for nationwide deposition services.