Search Site
Menu

The Importance of Preparation for a Deposition

After filing a lawsuit, discovery takes place. By this, we refer to the exchange of documents, written answers to questions (known as interrogatories) and sworn testimony to oral questions (known as depositions). There are several other elements to discovery, including depositions of record keepers as well as witnesses (as opposed to parties). When judges review cases in a Pre-trial Conference, they will invariably ask, “Is discovery complete?” Often there will be depositions that remain to be taken.

I was taught that there are two purposes to the taking of depositions. The first is to see how a party or witness presents himself/herself. Do they make a good appearance? Are they believable? Are they credible? Were they in a good position to see what happened? Can they narrate the events coherently? These are the questions a lawyer thinks of during, and after, a deposition. One’s appearance is evaluated. Consequently, I always tell my clients to go to a deposition dressed appropriately. Moreover, I ask them to be polite but firm. I do not want a client cajoled or induced into saying something to please the examining attorney. I also will ask clients not to be rude to the opponent’s attorney. This is not only a matter of common courtesy but it is a far better tactical approach than showing anger or hostility.

The second purpose in taking a deposition, not surprisingly, is to ascertain facts. It is a question and answer session, all about what happened during a particular incident, and the events which preceded a particular incident. During a deposition, you will have an attorney present, who will interpose appropriate objections. There is no judge, but there is a stenographer present who will record what was questioned and what was answered. Typically, there are a few breaks and discussions off the record, I tell my clients to expect that everything they say will be stenographically recorded and likely to be used in the future. A key sentence in a deposition can sometimes have a big effect on the ultimate disposition of a case. Thus the importance of being prepared for a deposition cannot be minimized. A client should always prepare with his or her attorney prior to a deposition – not with a rehearsal of questions and answers, but rather to familiarize oneself with what happened at the time of the accident or injury. The deposition takes place several months or, more likely, even years after the event occurred. It is easy to forget small but crucial details over time.

In a deposition, you may be asked if you prepared with your attorney and you do have to answer these questions. But you do not have to answer anything privileged (such as conversations with your attorney or confidential conversations with a spouse). Your lawyer is there to interpose any objections, and to stop questions that infringe on privileged information. You will also get the opportunity to review the transcript of the deposition and make corrections on what is called an “errata sheet.” Despite the fact that no judge is present during a deposition, there can be judicial involvement. A transcript can be brought to a judge either in post-deposition motion, or more likely, at the time of the trial. Excerpts from a deposition can certainly be used in the cross-examination of a fact witness to impeach that witness. The use of excerpts is even more powerful to contradict an adverse party as it has not only a powerful psychological effect but is used for what is called its “substantive” effect, something technical but more than just impeaching.

There is seldom a more crucial part to the process of discovery than depositions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Feinberg & Alban, P.C. fervently protects your rights
  • The Boston firm of Feinberg & Alban, P.C. specializes its practice in the area of personal injury.

    The attorneys serve the entire state of Massachusetts in addition to affiliating with lawyers in other states to handle cases outside of Massachusetts.

  • $7.7 Million Award for Feinberg & Alban Client in Personal Injury Trial

    Boston Attorneys Win Highest Injury Verdict in Massachusetts in 2011 & 2012.

Client Reviews
  • google
    5.0/5.0

    Robert Feinberg did a fantastic job handling our case. He is a thoughtful, caring man, cordial and a complete professional. The settlement we received was more than we had ever anticipated, his legal work is beyond reproach. Thank you Robert!!

    Read more

    Robert Bard

  • google
    5.0/5.0

    After my motorcycle accident I contacted Feinberg & Alban. I met with Marsha for a consultation and she was great. Their entire team kept me in the loop for the entire process. Colleen was also a part of my case, she help me with understanding a lot ...

    Read more

    Beantownie 617

  • google
    5.0/5.0

    I will be forever grateful to Robert and his team at Feinberg & Alban, P.C. He is the best of the best and I truly cannot recommend his expertise enough. Having Robert represent me brought me great comfort. I never once doubted that he would not be s...

    Read more

    Mitchell Petitti

  • lawyers
    5.0/5.0

    I will be forever grateful to Robert and his team at Feinberg & Alban, P.C. He is the best of the best and I truly cannot recommend his expertise enough. Having Robert represent me brought me great comfort. I never once doubted that he would not be s...

    Read more

    Client

  • google
    5.0/5.0

    Robert and his team were unbelievably caring and thorough in working on my interests. It was a very serious case. It needed much attention and skill. Robert and his team were always there for me from the time I was in the hospital. They got me an ama...

    Read more

    Jason Lebovitz

See all reviews
Awards & Affiliations
Contact us

Quick Contact Form