The thought of preparing for a deposition can feel overwhelming. A deposition is a vital part of a case as it is the pre-trial oral testimony that a witness takes under oath. Depositions are important to the entire case. Before your deposition, it is essential to prepare. Contact our experienced attorneys at Labrum Law Firm at (615) 338-9500 to learn more about how you can prepare for a deposition and feel confident during the process.
Understanding the Deposition Process
A deposition is the process by which opposing counsel will ask questions of a witness prior to a trial. The information discovered in this interview can be useful to the opposing counsel. A deposition occurs during the discovery phase of a case. A person that is being deposed will be asked questions regarding the case which can be used for evidence during a trial. The opposing counsel will hope to use information you provide possibly against you, or in their favor. It is important to understand that your legal counsel has the right to also ask you questions during the deposition. In most cases, the questions your attorney will ask will clarify specific matters, and attempt to better articulate any confusing answers.
Once the deposition begins, a witness will be asked to raise their right hand and they will start testifying under oath. This means that they are legally required to tell the entire truth. It is possible for a witness to be convicted of perjury, depending on what they say during the deposition. Depositions are serious matters and should be taken seriously by anyone testifying under oath.
Best Practices When Preparing for a Deposition
There are several best practices to consider when preparing for a deposition, including the following listed below.
Witnesses being deposed often feel pressured, overwhelmed, and in some cases, frustrated by the constant questioning. It is critical that witnesses always remain calm and polite. Witnesses should always tell the truth during the deposition, otherwise, they could be charged with the crime of perjury, which can be a felony.
If you are being deposed, always listen to the question fully before you answer to make sure you understand. It may help to breathe and pause after each question so you can answer appropriately and honestly. Never guess when answering a question. If you honestly do not know the answer to a question, simply indicate that you do not recollect or that you do not know.
Know Your Legal Rights
Witnesses in depositions still have legal rights. Any time during a deposition, a witness has the right to speak to their personal attorney. Additionally, witnesses in depositions only have the legal responsibility to answer questions they are asked.
In some cases, witnesses are asked to bring specific documentation to the deposition. If you have been asked to bring any documentation to the deposition, make sure to bring three copies of the documents. The reason for three copies is to keep one for you, your attorney, and the opposing counsel. Bring originals of the documents as well. Never bring any documents that you were not asked to bring.
What Not to Do During a Deposition
During a deposition, a witness should never reveal any confidential or attorney-client privileged information. What you and your attorney discuss is confidential and you do not have to answer that if you are asked. Additionally, a witness should not speak with opposing parties or counsel unless they are directly asking a question as part of the official deposition. Witnesses should never speculate or form an answer based on prediction, estimation, feelings, or guessing. If an attorney for the witness makes an objection and then specifically states that their witness should not answer the question, the witness should refrain from commenting or answering that particular question.
Objections During a Deposition
It is common for lawyers to make objections during a deposition. Objections are statements that an attorney makes that interrupt the questioning of a witness and places on the record that they feel a line of questioning is either illegal or inappropriate in some way. During a court trial, a judge will make a determination regarding the objection and then either direct the witness to answer the question or direct the lawyer to move on to another question.
However, there is no judge actually present at a deposition, so any objections from either legal counsel will be stated for the record and the deposition can continue. Witnesses then must continue to answer all questions presented to them. However, the one exception is if an attorney for the witness specifically tells a client not to answer a question after an objection, a witness has the legal right to not answer that question.
Benefits of Meeting Your Attorney Before Your Deposition
Before your deposition, it is important to consider meeting with your attorney. An attorney has the legal expertise and experience to help you understand the documents you will present during the deposition and help you understand the process of the deposition. Additionally, your attorney may help you understand what types of questions opposing counsel will ask, and what types of documents they may have for you to respond to during the deposition. Our experienced attorneys at Labrum Law Firm carefully prepare witnesses for their deposition, making sure that they understand the process, their questions are answered, and they feel supported.
Learn How an Experienced Attorney Can Help You
While you are preparing for a deposition, it is important that you know what to expect. Our experienced attorneys at Labrum Law Firm help all of our clients to understand the entire deposition process and answer any questions they may have. We would welcome the opportunity to help you understand more about the legal process and depositions. If you believe you will need to answer questions in a deposition, contact our legal team at Labrum Law Firm at (615) 338-9500 today to ensure your questions are answered and your legal rights remain protected during the process.