When Should A Witness Not Answer A Question in A Deposition?



During a deposition, the opposing attorney may ask questions meant to rile you up or embarrass you, break you down or get a damning reaction.


Depending on how you respond, you may compromise your case, which is the last thing you want to happen.


Fortunately, there is a way to handle this situation to avoid losing your cool or divulging information that may jeopardize your case.


Which Questions Shouldn’t I Answer During a Deposition?

If you didn’t know, there are specific questions that you are not obliged to answer during a deposition.


So, if you feel like the deposing attorney is pushing this line of question, you can raise an objection.


If the judge determines that the questions aren’t pertinent to the case, you will not be required to answer.


However, if the judge overrules your objection, you are compelled to respond to the questions raised by the opposing attorney.


With that said, questions that you can raise an objection to fall under the following categories:


Private Information

You reserve the right to decline to answer questions touching on an individual’s health, religious beliefs, and sexuality.


The opposing attorney will be required to explain how these questions directly correlate to the case to compel you to answer.


Privileged Information

Examples of privileged information that you are not obliged to disclose during a deposition include private conversations between doctors and their patients, a lawyer and their client, and confidential discussions with your psychiatrist.


Impertinent Information

Any question you believe is inappropriate or does not influence the ruling may be considered impertinent.


If you attempt to answer these questions, your attorney will probably raise an objection on your behalf to stop you from answering.


How Do I Determine Which Questions Are Irrelevant?

If you’re not sure what a question’s aim is, pause and consider whether the answer could influence the judge’s ruling.


It’s also important to remember that just because a question bothers you or might be used against you by the opposing lawyer doesn’t mean it’s irrelevant.


Bottom line

While being on the receiving end of a barrage of questions from a determined attorney can be unsettling, prepping beforehand will help you remain calm, cool, and collected during the deposition proceedings.


So, know what to expect and remember you don’t have to answer every question thrown your way.



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