What Is A Deposition and How Do They Work
A deposition is a part of the discovery phase of a civil lawsuit where a person appears for a question and answer session so both sides can learn more about the case and develop strategies and responses for the opposing counsel’s arguments. It also preserves the witness’ testimony and allows both parties to learn all the facts before trial.
When the trial happens, both parties should know all of the witnesses present and what they will say during their testimony. When someone gets called to a deposition, they appear at a specific place at a particular time and give testimony under oath.
Court reporters also frequently attend depositions to keep accurate records for the court. Depositions are similar to witness testimony delivered in a trial, as they involve lawyers asking questions directed to the deponent (person being deposed). Sometimes, deposition testimony can be used in court!
Depositions can be served to anyone who might have information about facts about the case, but many people don’t want to be deposed; depositions can become highly stressful. If someone has essential information about a case and doesn’t want to appear for a deposition, they can be compelled to attend the deposition if they are served a subpoena. A subpoena commands the potential deponent to appear at a specific place and time so they can give testimony.
Subpoenas must follow specific requirements, like naming the court and title of the action (a deposition, if you’re compelling someone to be deposed) and commanding the attendance of the person the subpoena is being delivered to. However, there are protections given to someone who gets subpoenaed. There can be a motion to modify the subpoena for reasons like failing to allow reasonable time to respond to the subpoena or requiring the person to travel an unreasonable distance to comply with the subpoena.
If either side of a case decides to schedule a deposition, they are required to give reasonable notice to all parties. Still, the deposition can occur in any place, not just in the courthouse. For convenience, most attorneys hold depositions at a law firm office or the court reporter’s office since they’re required to be present and record the deposition.
Depositions begin with one attorney beginning the questioning, and the other attorneys are then given a chance to follow up and ask the deponent questions of their own. Attorneys also have the ability to object to questions and discussions about subject matter that they believe doesn’t affect their case. However, since there isn’t a judge present at a deposition, the court reporter notes the objections and the questioning proceeds. Depositions are used to try and strengthen your case, so there is also some strategy involved when asking questions. Attorneys typically try to ask broad questions during a deposition. Hence, the deponent gives a general answer that could reveal crucial information. Knowing this, you should always try to keep your answers concise while being deposed.
Hopefully, this blog could answer any questions you had about how depositions work. However, if something is still unclear to you and you need help, an experienced attorney will have answers for you.