How do depositions work?
When going to court, you have the ability and the right to collect as much information as possible about the situation at hand before going in front of a judge. There are many ways you can collect this information. A deposition is one way you can get the information you need to make your case in court.
A deposition is essentially an interview. The person being deposed is responsible for answering questions posed by the person doing the deposition. In most cases, depositions are done by lawyers who represent a client. Lawyers are usually trained in how to conduct an efficient deposition and have the resources available to make the most of the information that comes out of a deposition. Depositions are rarely done by clients representing themselves, although they very well could be.
Are You Being Deposed?
If you receive a subpoena or a request to give a deposition, that means that you have some information that the person doing the deposition wants or needs. If you receive a subpoena then, just like with a subpoena for a court appearance, you are required to show up for the deposition. You should read the subpoena carefully to see if it requires you to bring certain documents or other items with you to the deposition. If you find yourself in a bind about whether you can release certain information in a deposition then you should consult an attorney beforehand. For example, if you are a mental health professional and receive a subpoena for a deposition with client records, then you should make sure you are following your profession’s rules of confidentiality before you go for the deposition.
Many people get nervous at the thought of being deposed, especially when they feel like they do not have any information that would be of any value. It is important for you to remember that lawyers are constantly developing and revising case strategies to serve the best interests of their clients. Sometimes depositions are very intense because you are clearly a key witness in a case (this is what you generally see on TV shows and in movies). In many cases, though, depositions are done simply to talk with potential witnesses and see what they know. It is possible that once you give a deposition you will never be involved with that case again. Either way, you should stay calm and focus on simply telling the truth.
What To Expect At A Deposition
When you go in for a deposition, you can expect a relatively casual atmosphere with some extra people in the room. The person or party that called you for a deposition will most likely be present along with his/her attorney. In this case, the attorney will be asking you questions while the person or party observes. Any other parties to the case will also likely be present along with their lawyers. This means that there could be a lot of people in the room simply observing you and not actually saying anything. There will also be a court reporter present who will be typing and/or recording the deposition and creating a written transcript. The only thing you need to do differently during a deposition is to make sure you do not talk over others so that the court reporter can accurately record the conversation and make the transcript.
The deposition will be a series of questions and answers. Some questions may be long while others may be short. Some may seem completely irrelevant and others may seem to be glazed over. You should focus on telling the truth and providing the information requested of you rather than worrying about the strategy behind the questions and how the information may be used. Once the requesting party is done asking questions then the deposition will be over. If the deposition runs for a long time then do not be afraid to ask for breaks to get food, water, or visit the restroom.
The biggest difference between a deposition and a general interview or conversation is that you will be sworn under oath. This means that you must answer each question truthfully. If you do not answer truthfully then that may be used against you later to impeach conflicting information or to charge you with perjury. This is why it is especially important that you consult an attorney if you are unsure of what you can and cannot say in a deposition.
Once a deposition is complete, the parties in a case will have a legally admissible set of evidence that they can use however they see fit. Deposition evidence can be invaluable in preparing a case for court and facilitating negotiations to avoid a trial.