Information About Your Deposition

The opposing side in your case has demanded your discovery deposition. A discovery deposition is the oral testimony of a witness taken under oath before trial. The questions you will be asked will pertain to information that is relevant to the case or to discover relevant facts. It will be done in private and in a lawyer's office, either in our office or in the office of the opposing counsel. There will be a court reporter present taking down everything you say. Generally, the lawyers for all parties will be present. We will meet with you prior to the deposition to prepare you for it.

The purpose of the deposition is to discover all the facts a witness may know, which will assist the lawyer in the preparation and trial of the lawsuit. It also helps to settle the case because the facts are known by both sides. It is customary practice to take a discovery deposition in almost all civil cases.

Although a deposition is an informal proceeding, it is nevertheless an important one. Therefore, you should appear at deposition time dressed as you would expect to dress if you were actually going to Court. If the deposition is a long one, there is usually a break. However, if you need water or have to excuse yourself for some other purpose, just ask.

The following list contains the general rules which you should observe during your deposition:

  1. Listen carefully to the questions.
  2. Testify truthfully and accurately.
  3. Never argue or lose your temper.
  4. Remain calm.
  5. Speak slowly and clearly.
  6. Don't shake your head yes or no; remember, the court reporter must be able to understand each of your responses.
  7. If you don't understand the question, ask that it be explained.
  8. Answer all questions directly, giving brief and complete answers to each of the questions.
  9. Never volunteer any information.
  10. Wait five seconds after the question is asked, then answer it as concisely as possible.
  11. If you can answer YES or NO, do so and stop. Usually, however, answer in complete sentences.
  12. If any lawyer objects to a question, stop talking immediately. Do not answer until you have been instructed to do so by your lawyer.
  13. Only answer questions to which you know the answer. You only know what you have seen or heard. Do not guess.
  14. Avoid adjectives or superlatives like "I never" or "I always."
  15. Do not characterize your own testimony (i.e., "In all candor, ..."; "I'm doing the best I can"; or "Honestly, ...").
  16. Do not testify about your state of mind unless specifically asked.
  17. If asked about information in an exhibit, ask to see it.
  18. Do not let the examiner put words in your mouth.
  19. Do not answer compound questions.
  20. Listen to objections. You may learn something about the question.

The foregoing information is an attempt to familiarize you with depositions. It is intended to assist you in approaching your upcoming deposition in an intelligent and calm manner.

We hope you find our advice helpful and useful during the taking of your deposition. Should you have any additional questions regarding our instructions, do not hesitate to contact us.