You will be asked to raise your right hand and to swear or affirm that the testimony that you are about to give is truthful and accurate. No brainer. Say yes. But, I've seen people thrown off by the question because they did not expect it.
This person's job is to write down every word. Remember that. You or your attorney can get an e-transcript, a .pdf, or whatever technology comes between the second I am writing this and the day you give your testimony. The point is that a record will be created of each word spoken.
Prepare in Advance
Prior to the deposition, review all documents, photographs and anything else relevant to the case. If it's a car accident case, read the police report, the operator's reports, any applications for medical or "PIP" benefits. Look at all of the photographs. In a business or other case, review all documents that have anything to do with the case. Any documents that you have signed should be reviewed before you go to the deposition.
Most often, before you go to a deposition, you have answered interrogatories. You and your attorney should have provided accurate concise answers. Read every word before the deposition and give answers consistent with your answers to interrogatories. Any minor deviation will subject you to additional lengthy questioning. [In the rare circumstance that you discover something in your interrogatory answers that is not right, you should consider submitting an amendment before the deposition to avoid problems.]
Listen to Each Question
Carefully take in each question that you are asked. If you are not certain what is being asked, you may ask that the question be rephrased, repeated or clarified.
Answer as Briefly as Possible
Once you are certain as to what the question is, then, answer as briefly as possible. If a yes or no will do, then answer yes or no. "What color was the light" only requires a "red", "green" or "yellow", and not a narrative about which way you were looking, that a dog was running loose, a girl in her bikini was bringing out the trash across the street, or anything else.
Do Not Volunteer Information
Anything beyond the yes/no or green/yellow/red in the above example invites unnecessary additional interrogation into areas that may or may not relate to the case. This is not meant to be taken to encourage evasive answers. You must give truthful answers. However, it is the job of the attorney taking the deposition to elicit information about the case from you. Make it easy on yourself by answering each question accurately but briefly.
If you are comfortable in a suit or other business attire, wear it. If not, do not. It's acceptable to wear clean khakis or jeans and a casual shirt or blouse if that is what you normally wear in your every day life. Dressing appropriately means being comfortable, so you can concentrate on the above concerns while answering the questions.
If you are not a party to the litigation, and if you are not represented, it is worth your while to find an attorney to give you more detailed advice relating to the facts and the law of the case and any role you may or may not play. If you truly can not afford representation call a legal services office or the state or county bar association for a no fee/low fee referral.
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