The court system can be a scary environment for those not accustomed to working in it each and every day–and heck, it can be just as scary for the lawyers and prosecutors and judges who spend so many hours each day with people’s lives on the line. A deposition is a sort of pretrial motion during the discovery process. During a deposition, sworn testimony and evidence is presented.
Depositions function as a means to streamline the court process. They make it faster and more efficient so judges have more time to hear more cases. They’re part of the reason that your right to a speedy trial is possible.
That said, depositions are something for which you need to prepare. You should take it as seriously as if you were in court at trial.
- Don’t lose your temper. Both the lawyer and prosecutor will be attempting to gauge your personality and responsiveness in certain situations of stress. Is it easy to get the required information? Is it easy to trick you into providing information that may damage or repair someone’s case? Could you be used to misguide a jury into believing something that isn’t the truth? Prepare your responses.
- Don’t answer without hearing the question. Make sure you think. Know exactly what you intend to say before you say it, and listen to your own response before your lips form those words. Questions are often meant to be confusing, so ask for clarification if you need it. A pause before you respond to the question will also help the court reporter accurately transcribe. Provide verbal responses. “Yes” or “no” when applicable. Don’t mutter.
- Don’t make assumptions or guesses when providing testimony. If you’re unsure of the accuracy of your information, then respond as such. “I don’t know” and “I don’t recall” will better serve you during a deposition. If you need to approximate an answer, then use words that define it as such. Never make up information simply because you think you should have the answer for which they’re looking.
- If there are documents used during a deposition, read them through before you arrive. Check with your lawyer to see what’s available to you.
- Whenever you feel too tired or confused, nod to your lawyer in order to call for a break. Don’t be caught in a lie or contradiction because you were too afraid to ask for a short recess.