If you are a party to a civil lawsuit or a witness, you will probably be asked to give your deposition. Most people do not know what a deposition is. A deposition is a question-and-answer session where an attorney ask the witness (the deponent) questions, and a court reporter transcribes the questions and answers. The deposition is usually done in an attorney’s office and the people present for the deposition are the attorney for the deponent (if represented by an attorney), the opposing attorney, the court reporter and yourself. If the deposition is also videotaped, there will be a videographer present. Other attorneys may also be present, especially if there are multiple parties involved in the lawsuit. The person giving the testimony (the deponent) is given an oath to tell the truth. Their testimony has the same effect as if they were giving testimony before a judge and jury. With the advent of Zoom, a lot more depositions are conducted by Zoom. It saves time and money as everyone does not have to travel to one location for the deposition.
Purpose of the Deposition
Usually, the purpose of a deposition is three-fold. The first is to understand the background of the witness and the facts the person knows concerning the lawsuit. A second purpose is for the attorney to judge how the witness will be as a witness at trial. Will the jury like them? Do they appear to be a credible witness? Are they sympathetic? A third purpose is to box in the witness's testimony so they will not testify to something different at trial. And if the witness testifies to something different at trial from what they testified to in their deposition, the attorney can use the deposition transcript to impeach the witness’s credibility.
Once all the persons are in attendance for the deposition, the court reporter will ask the person giving the testimony (the deponent) to identify themselves for the record. Then the court reporter will swear in the witness. This is the same oath you take if you are appearing as a witness in trial. Once completed, then the attorney who requested the deposition will start asking questions. As the questions are asked by the attorney and the witness answers, the court reporter is transcribing the testimony on their stenographic machine as well as doing an audio recording. After that attorney has completed all the questions, then the other attorneys present, including your attorney, have an opportunity to ask you questions. After all the attorneys have completed their questioning, the deposition is completed. The court reporter will then transcribe the questions and answers and put them in a booklet form called the deposition transcript. The transcript is then sent to the witness for review. The witness is given an opportunity to review the transcript for any errors and make corrections, if needed.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a collision and would like to discuss your rights, give us a call.