Tips for Giving a Deposition
It is a normal response to be apprehensive about giving a deposition, particularly if you’ve never testified before. Fortunately, there are a few simple things you can remember to help to alleviate some of the anxiety.
The worst thing you can do before giving a deposition is nothing. You need to be prepared. You may not be on a witness stand in a courtroom, but you are still giving testimony, under oath, with a court reporter recording every word.
Before giving testimony, you should review all pleadings filed on your behalf and all previous discovery materials. This includes documents produced and interrogatory answers. Pay particular attention to any documents you or your attorney think may appear as an exhibit to the deposition. In complex matters, this may be a voluminous task, so give yourself lots of time to complete it. If you have any questions about a document, be sure to ask your attorney ahead of time. Opposing counsel will often use documentary evidence to show inconsistencies in testimony.
2. Review your testimony with your attorney
While your attorney cannot tell you what to say, they can (and should) speak to you about giving a deposition. It is not improper to discuss the case or your testimony with your attorney or anyone else before your deposition. During the deposition, the opposing counsel may ask if you discussed your testimony with anyone. If this happens, openly admit it. Just don’t disclose exactly what you discussed with your attorney; that is privileged communication.
3. Giving testimony
Remember you are in control. The opposing counsel will do their best to rattle you. Remind yourself that they are just doing their job and it’s not personal. This will help make your skin a little thicker, and help you to remain calm. If you need the attorney to slow down or repeat a question, speak up. If you realize you made a mistake, don’t get rattled. Try to correct yourself if you can and don’t feel bad about it. Tell the truth. Remember you are under oath just as if you were in a courtroom. The truth is what you have experienced with your own five senses.
Do not offer your opinions or conclusions unless the other attorney asks you for them specifically. Don’t exaggerate, take your time in answering the questions, and listen to the questions carefully. If you don’t know the answer to a question it is perfectly acceptable to say, “I don’t know.” Similarly, if you don’t remember something, it is acceptable to say, “I don’t recall.” If it is a yes/no question answer only “yes” or “no”. Do not explain, justify, rationalize, or the like. Make the attorney do their job and ask you the questions. Do not provide answers for questions that they haven’t asked you. Remember, you will not win your case during a deposition. It is merely a forum for the opposing side to learn what you know about the case.
Relax. Eat a typical nutritious meal and get plenty of sleep the night before your deposition. Do not drink alcoholic beverages before testifying and avoid taking any drugs. Make sure you take all medications as prescribed. If you wear glasses or a hearing aid, use them. Dress conservatively. Do not smoke, vape, or chew gum while being deposed. There will be breaks, so wait for them. Be polite, don’t become angry or excited, but at the same time don’t be too friendly or informal.
Phelps & Moore, PLC has a team of talented and experienced lawyers to help you prepare for a deposition. Call us at (602) 788-2089 to schedule a free 30-minute initial consultation.
The information and views contained in this posting are not legal advice, nor do they form an attorney-client relationship.