What is a deposition?
A deposition is an interview of a witness where any question pertaining to the case can be asked. The two primary purposes of a deposition is to discover what the witness knows and preserve their testimony. Depositions are part of the pretrial process called discovery. Discovery is a time for both sides to formally investigate all aspects of the case and gather as much information as possible to help better hone their strategies for the trial. Despite what TV shows and movies may depict, there should be no surprise witnesses during the trial, that is considered to be unfair in the eyes of the law. By the time trial is underway, witnesses should be prepared through the depositions and should have answered most questions that may arise during the trial. The deposition also allows for both parties to see where the weak spots of their case may lie so they can avoid damaging questions during the trial.
Do I have to attend?
Yes, under Rule 176, a witness may served a subpoena compelling them to attend an oral deposition in person. However, you may object to the time and place of the deposition by motion for protective order or motion to quash the notice of deposition. If you are a witness called to a deposition you must remain in attendance from the start of the deposition until its completed. A witness can not be questioned by either side for more than six continuous hours.
What kinds of questions will be asked?
Most depositions will start with some preliminary questions such as “do you understand you are under oath”, “have you ever been in a deposition before” or “are you prepared to answer questions to the best of your ability”. Once the preliminary question have been asked, the individual taking the deposition will ask general background questions. These questions are meant to be easy for the witness to answer and help put them at ease, such as “what is your full name and where are you from”. Next the interviewer will ask how and if the witness has prepared for the deposition and if they have spoken to legal counsel regarding the case. After these question have been asked, the individual taking the deposition will get into specific case related questions which will vary depending on the case.
Do I have to answer every question?
During a deposition an attorney may instruct a witness not to answer a question if it violates client privilege or can be categorized as an abusive line of questioning. If an attorney instructs a witness not to answer a question, they must give a clear and concise explanation for the instruction so that it may be documented in the transcripts. Most questions will be answered during a deposition as they pertain to the case.
Having an attorney to guide and support you can be crucial during a deposition. Call Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC today for legal support.