Many people have heard of a deposition but know nothing about what a deposition is or what the rules are when giving your disposition. A deposition is the oral testimony of a witness or a party to a case given under oath. This is the opportunity for attorneys to be able to question the deposing witness about virtually anything. This allows the attorney to find out what you know so they may be able to build up their case and prepare for trial.
Here are the five most important deposition rules:
- Tell the truth: You want to make sure you tell the truth for each question that you are asked. There is nothing worse than having a client lie during their deposition and then say something completely different in front of the jury. Your credibility will be completely shot.
- Listen to the question asked: You want to make sure you listen carefully to the question asked. Do not give more information than what is required. For example, if I ask you what color your car is, the answer might be red. The answer would not be a red Buick. By giving the attorney questioning you more information than needed you could potentially hurt your case and you will surely drag out how long the deposition will take.
- Pause before responding. This will give you the opportunity to review the question and answer accordingly. However, this does not mean that you should pause for five seconds, or even three seconds. You simply pause for long enough that you comprehend the question and are able to answer accordingly.
- Do not guess. You do not want to guess an answer to the question. If you do not know, simply say you do not know. You do not want to answer you do not know to every question, but if you truly do not know the answer, do not guess. Guessing can negatively impact you later at trial. Remember, your deposition is not a memory test. The questioning attorney simply wants to know what you know.
- Be consistent. If you answer a question one way, do not answer the same question differently. What do I mean by this? Sometimes an attorney will ask you a question and then ask you the same question in a different form in order to try to get you to change your answer. If you answer one question one way, you do not want to change your answer when you hear the same question in a different form. This is a trap that some attorneys like to use. Do not take the bait.