Depositions: What is it? What is it's purpose? What effect can a deposition have on a case?
A deposition is a tool used during the discovery phase of litigation in which each party to the litigation is allowed to question each party and all witnesses under oath. It is a less formal proceeding than a trial, but is used in preparation for a trial.
What is a Deposition?A deposition is a tool used during the discovery phase of litigation in which each party to the litigation is allowed to question each party and all witnesses under oath. Generally, the deposition is taken at one of the attorney*s office. Those usually present at the deposition are the deponent (i.e., the person testifying), the attorneys for each party, the parties to the litigation (if they so choose), and the court reporter. The court reporter administers the oath and types every word spoken during the deposition.
What are the purposes of a deposition?The purposes of a deposition are:
1) to lock each person*s testimony down as what they know, saw, heard, or experienced;
2) to determine how the person acquired their knowledge (i.e., did they witness the event, hear about it from someone else, or did their knowledge come from seeing some type of evidence such as a report, letter, etc.);
3) to determine whether the person is credible, and their likely demeanor on the witness stand at trial (in other words, will they be a good witness or not);
4) to determine what evidence the person may be in possession of, produced, or saw; and
5) to determine if there are other witnesses to the event(s).
What effect can a deposition have on a case?A deposition is much less formal than a trial, yet a deposition can be just as important as the testimony given at trial. The importance of a deposition cannot be understated. Many a case has been won, lost or seriously affected (for the good and the bad) in depositions. They are to be taken seriously because the testimony that is given during the deposition will likely be used at trial to either support the evidence or to impeach and undermine the credibility of the witness or previous testimony by others.