Maybe you’ve heard the term being used in a courtroom drama, or maybe you’re anticipating one. Here’s what you need to know about depositions and how to be a star deponent.
What they are:
A pre-trial interview of witnesses.
What they do:
Provide everyone involved with consistent, relevant information; prevent any courtroom surprises.
Where they happen:
Not in court; they usually occur in an attorney’s office.
How long they take:
Anywhere from less than an hour to several days.
I’m about to be deposed—help!
Don’t freak out. The prospect of a deposition may seem intimidating, but the following tips will help the process go smoothly.
- This is not a test. There are no wrong answers so long as you are honest.
- Tell the truth. Even if you haven’t put your hand on a Bible, you are answering under oath; remember that there are serious consequences for lying.
- Keep it simple. Answer the questions as asked. There’s no need to volunteer more information than is being requested, but…
- Don’t be difficult. Be courteous and, more importantly, don’t argue with the attorney taking the deposition.
- Don’t speculate. “I don’t know” is a perfectly acceptable answer if you, indeed, do not know the answer.
- Let the attorney taking the deposition finish her question before you start answering and think before you speak.
- Provide clear, verbal answers. Depositions are typed up by a court reporter in real time. Not only do verbal answers create a clearer record, but they make the court reporter’s job much easier.
Tell the truth (seriously).