A deposition is one tool that lawyers may use during the discovery process of a lawsuit. It consists of a witness – who may or may not be a party involved in the case–being examined or cross-examined similar to how he or she would be at a trial. Understanding the use of this tool can help determine if it can be applied to your case and how it may affect it.
Parties involved in civil litigation have the right to conduct discovery. This is the formal investigation of finding information out from the opposing party. The parties can ask the opposing party to answer written questions under oath with interrogatories or may ask the opposing party to admit to certain things in order to narrow the scope of the information that is contested in the case. Along with these other tools, parties may conduct depositions as part of the discovery process.
As part of the discovery process, the attorneys may ask who the other party plans on calling as a witness. Depositions are requested when a party wants to know what a particular witness knows or wants to preserve his or her testimony. They help the attorneys gather information. By having a deposition, an attorney can ask the witness relevant questions about the case so that he or she is not surprised about his or her testimony during the actual trial.
Depositions usually occur in an attorney’s office instead of a courtroom. A court reporter is present and records the witness’ testimony. The court reporter later prepares a transcript that includes the oral questions and answers in written form. Some depositions are also videotaped. The parties involved in the case, the person being deposed, the court reporter, and the attorneys, are usually the only people present for the deposition. The deponent (the person being deposed) may also have his or her own attorney present.
During the deposition, the attorney examining the witness asks a series of questions. There are limited grounds to object to questions during depositions unlike at trial or in other discovery methods. Even if an attorney makes an objection to a question, the witness is still usually required to answer the question.
Taking the deposition of a witness can uncover important information about a case. It can help elicit favorable testimony or can uncover potential problems that the attorney should prepare for at trial. Depositions help the attorneys and others understand the case better. Taking a deposition may preserve witness testimony in case a witness may not be available at trial. For example, if he or she is out of town or ill at the time of trial. Additionally, depositions may be used to show a witness is not being truthful at trial if his or her testimony at trial is different than it was during the deposition. Depositions may reveal information that makes it more likely for cases to settle out of court.
Amar Esq. PLLC is a law office located in Scottsdale, AZ.