As a court reporter, depositions are part of the job. But what is a deposition– and why should you care?
A deposition is something that every person ideally has a good working basic understanding of. Knowing what you’re contending with if you yourself have to deal with a deposition is key to being successful in the end because a good one helps lawyers come out on top and win cases.
A good deposition can definitely go a long way when it comes to helping to win a case. Victory is key and losing often can come with not-so-great case results. So it makes sense to do your research, because whether you’re in the legal field or simply temporarily involved in it, you definitely want to know what you are dealing with. When you know more about a topic, you are able to make choices that are better informed and may benefit you in the end.
Attorneys use depositions to help boost their case or attempt to. These tools are gathered together in the ‘conduct discovery phase‘. This allows legal professionals that are involved to do what they have to in order to put together a fact and testimonial based profile.
These are defined to be formal investigations. Witnesses that are called will take an oath and then the questioning will begin. These witnesses need to tell the truth and everything that goes on or is said will be taken down and formally recorded. This includes all formal questions as well as answers, recorded on a transcript.
The transcript will be the official record for the case and can be used as an analysis reference. This makes it useful to both sides involved. Deposition purpose can often include putting together an event narrative that’s focused and coherent. This makes sense since it will be involved in the case strategy most likely to a large degree, making it invaluable to this process overall.
Depositions are important because they are like a trial that happens before the actual trial. This is a practice run– a witness can go over the testimony that they delivered so that they can present it if they need to when they are in court.
The main purpose of depositions is to allow the opposing counsel to get on with their investigation. They’re trying to ready themselves for any testimony from the witness, analyzing events and working the case overall. That means that they’ll be able to capitalize on the things that are inconsistent later. So for witnesses, their story being consistent is important.
Attorneys usually want witnesses that have a consistent story as well. Remind witnesses to speak clearly and slowly as well, mindful of every word. Advise them that they should allow an attorney to ask their question first and make sure they’re done before answering.
Don’t cut off an attorney or be in a rush to speak. Witnesses should be honest. Tell them that if they don’t know an answer, just be honest and say “I don’t know”. Also ask questions to be repeated if not understood. Treat a deposition like a test run and good luck!