Deposition testimony is given under oath and used to obtain facts and information in the “discovery” stage of a litigation dispute. Depositions are routine in the civil and business litigation context.
Depositions can be of the parties to the lawsuit, third-party witnesses, or experts rendering an opinion on the case.
Although informal and usually held in an attorney’s office, the testimony (the person testifying is called the “deponent”) is under oath and a court reporter records the testimony and prepares a transcript. Depositions serve an important purpose by locking in witnesses’ testimony and fostering the discovery of facts and details about case details.
If you are subject to deposition testimony, there is no substitute for legal representation and adequate preparation by your counsel. Your attorney will explain the process and prepare you for the type of questions and procedures to expect.
A few crucial things for a deponent to remember:
· understand the question being asked before answering.
· only answer the questions asked (don’t volunteer unnecessary information); and
· provide concise answers.
This is not an exhaustive list and there is no substitute for adequate preparation from experienced counsel familiar with the case. However, deponents would save themselves many headaches if they followed these three principles alone.
If you are subject to a deposition, hire an attorney. The adage goes “a person that acts as his own attorney has a fool for a client.” There is a lot at stake. Don’t go it alone, get professional legal representation.