This blog post is written by Sheila LaCivita of 4 Corners Depo.
If you are involved in a lawsuit, you may need to take part in a deposition. A deposition is a recorded, question and answer session that occurs when the witness is under oath. A deposition generally serves two purposes: (1) find out what you know; and (2) preserve your testimony for later use. A deposition can be extremely important for your case in a courtroom. Given that, you definitely want it to go well.
Here are five deposition tips that, while not guaranteeing that you will get the results that you want, will help you have an easier time.
1. Be Honest
This is the most important tip of them all. You are under oath during this deposition, and if you lie, then your case will be in trouble when the other lawyer points this out. Lying during a deposition is illegal. Be honest and forthright when answering the questions.
2. Answer the Questions
Don’t treat this like a conversation with the opposing attorney. This is not the time to give a very long-winded answer. If you do that, you can be assured that he or she will be listening intently to see if there are any inconsistencies that they can pick up on and turn around on you. Be brief with your answers and be sure to stick only to the scope of what the attorney asks.
3. Be Calm
The opposing attorney will probe for any weaknesses and they may try to get you angry. If you do that, you may say something that is harmful to your case. Do not let any line of questioning get to you.
If you feel yourself getting upset, pause for a second or two before answering so that you can get your feet back under you. Your own attorney may also step in if they feel that you are not being treated fairly by the other attorney.
4. You Can Say, “I Don’t Know.”
Depositions should be straightforward. You can say that you don’t remember something or you don’t know. This is not the place for you to offer any speculation or assumptions.
Only state information that you know to be accurate according to your own knowledge of the situation. Otherwise you can open the door for the other attorney.
5. Wear Appropriate Clothing
This is not just a deposition. The opposing attorney is going to see if you are a possibility as a witness during an actual jury trial. Wear business casual at bare minimum and carry yourself with decorum, since your behavior can possibly affect your lawsuit.
While this list is not exhaustive, it can be a good guide for you to navigate the deposition. Your lawyer can help you too, so be sure to talk to them.