Parties have the right during the discovery phase to conduct formal investigations and take depositions from witnesses in order to gain all available facts before going to trial.
Depositions usually occur at one of the attorneys involved in a case, though they can take place anywhere that suits. When taking place at someone’s home or place of employment, a court reporter is present to record testimony.
Definition of a Deposition
Deposition is a formal testimony taken under oath prior to trial wherein one or both attorneys on either side will examine a witness known as the deponent for answers during questioning by attorneys for both sides. Depositions serve an integral part of discovery by helping ensure all pertinent evidence is brought before a jury at trial, while false statements made during depositions can incur both civil and criminal penalties.
The examiner will ask questions designed to aid an attorney in their client’s defense case. You are limited in making objections and it’s best to keep answers brief and to the point; an examiner only wants a snapshot of your knowledge, not every specific detail.
Opponent lawyers frequently have an agenda when approaching depositions; their goal may be to use questioning and cross-examination techniques in an effort to coerce you into telling an untrue account, harming their client. Therefore, it is crucial that you have your own lawyer present for every deposition you attend.
Purpose of a Deposition
Depositions provide parties with an opportunity to gather information before trial. They allow them to assess the strengths and weaknesses of their cases as well as gain a preview of evidence being brought forth by opposing sides, helping to prevent unexpected surprises at trial.
Depositions require people to answer questions under oath during an examination under oath, with their answers recorded verbatim by a court reporter. Typically, the attorney who requested the deposition questions first (direct examination). Other attorneys may question witnesses during cross examination – these inquiries must first go through direct examination first before any cross-examination can begin.
Depositions may be held in certain instances in order to testify about your personal history, health status and circumstances surrounding an accident or injury. This typically happens when one party’s attorney wants to use specific information against your case – for example previous injuries, treatment plans or statements you have made previously in an attempt to disprove it.
Procedures of a Deposition
Depositions are part of pretrial discovery and involve taking and recording witness testimony under oath in a separate location from court, using a court reporter who creates a transcript for use at later dates.
Deposing witnesses involves attorneys from both sides asking them questions regarding their knowledge and recollection of events surrounding the case, so as to gain a complete picture. The goal is for this process to reveal all potential surprises at trial.
Depositions can take many sessions and generally, you must answer all questions asked of you unless any are improper or overstepped the line of inquiry. At that point, either yourself or your attorney can object, which will be noted on the transcript but is not binding decision on this particular matter.
If you are subpoenaed to appear for a deposition, it is crucial that the person subpoenaing you provides proper notice and appears at their designated time and date. If they fail to do so, filing a motion can force their presence at court proceedings.
Transcripts of a Deposition
Deposition transcripts provide a written record of everything said during depositions, providing lawyers on both sides of the dispute with essential evidence in their quest for justice. Lawyers from both camps will scour this document carefully looking for any evidence that would strengthen or weaken either of their positions in court.
Court reporters produce transcripts in several formats. PDF transcripts resemble printed documents and can be easily viewed on most devices; alternatively, an e-transcript may require using special viewer programs for viewing purposes.
An ASCII file transcript provides raw text version of deposition testimony. Although not compatible with most programs, ASCII files can still be exported into word processing programs for editing and are frequently required by certain law firms in certain cases. A high-quality transcript can ensure your case runs efficiently and promptly.