Depositions are a normal part of litigation. Despite the regularity with which many attorneys “take” or “defend” depositions, most people are as familiar with the word “deposition” as they are with the word maschalephidrosis-incidentally enough, one may in fact cause the other. In this post, we set forth what exactly one should expect if scheduled for a deposition.
Stated simply, a “deposition” is the oral testimony of a witness taken under oath before trial. The questions asked should pertain to information that is reasonably calculated to lead to evidence that is relevant to the case. Depositions are not like what is portrayed on Perry Mason or Law & Order. They are done in private, usually in a lawyer's office, and in the presence of a court reporter who will make a written record of everything that is said in the deposition.
Depositions are taken to identify all the facts a witness may, or may not, know. This assists the lawyers in preparing to take the case for trial and may help the parties reach a settlement. In taking a deposition, an attorney may already know the answer to every question asked of the witness but trying to see if the witness can “tell the tale” of what happened in the crash or other event-what were the injuries and to what degree have they affected the witness' life. The attorney may be hoping that the witness lies or exaggerates about his or her bodily condition or perhaps one's criminal history. The lawyer is locking down the witness' testimony and laying the foundation to “impeach” the witness at trial to portray the witness as a “liar.”
In addition, depositions allow lawyers an opportunity to “size up” a witness and determine whether he or she is likely to present well in front of a jury or are more likely to be disliked by the jury. It is important to remember that in a deposition, lawyers are not only listening to what you say, they are evaluating how you say it-Are you honest? Are you likely to lose your temper? Are you one to ramble rather than answer the question? Are you easily swayed?
Second only to a witness' testimony at trial, the deposition is the most important event in any case. For this purpose, most lawyers, including lawyers at our firm, will sit down with their clients prior to the deposition. This ensures that the both the client and his or her lawyer knows what to expect and is as prepared as possible for the deposition. After all, nobody wants to go in to their deposition with a bad case of maschalephidrosis.