You should remember that you are about to provide a record of events as recalled by you. In the event your testimony changes from your deposition to trial or other hearing, your inconsistent testimony can and will be used to discredit you. Take time to recall the incident and all relevant facts involved. You should never guess about any question posed, but you may be asked to recall the speed you were traveling at the time of an accident in a personal injury case.
Once in the deposition, answer the question, and then stop
It's important not to anticipate the question you are being asked. Even though you may think you know what's coming, listen intently to what you are being asked. It would be embarrassing at trial to have to explain a different answer to the same question because you were anticipating a different question. Once you have succinctly answered what you have been asked, stop. Then let the attorney ask the next question. If you offer additional information that was not part of the question, you are only inviting additional tangential lines of questions.
If you don't understand the question, don't answer it
If you aren't totally sure as to what you are being asked, ask the attorney to restate or rephrase the question. It's impossible at trial to try an reconcile an inconsistent answer in front of a jury with the response "well I didn't understand what I was being asked at my deposition." Plus, almost assuredly, the attorney, at the close of your deposition, will ask you to confirm that you understood all questions you were being asked.
Provide audible responses and don't talk over others
Because a court reporter will be taking down everything said at your deposition (along with a videographer, possibly), it's important to provide audible responses -- yes and no when called for -- rather than shakings and noddings of the head. Additionally, the transcript will be confusing if you provide uh-huhs and huh-uhs as responses, and so please avoid anything that may cause confusion in the event the transcript of your deposition will be read aloud later. In addition, make sure that you allow the attorney to finish their question before you answer it, so that you aren't talking at the same time. When two or more people are talking at once, it's impossible for the court reporter to accurately transcribe the conversation. In the event your deposition will be filmed, consult your attorney as to what you should wear, along with a discussion on the avoidance of most facial expressions.
Spend time preparing with your attorney
In the event you have anything in your background, it will be important to consult with your attorney, as it is likely to come up in your deposition. The opposing counsel can ask you about certain prior convictions and relevant prior bad acts if they can successfully argue that it can affect your credibility or truthfulness as a witness. In addition, you are likely to be required to provide summaries of your upbringing, educational background, work history, and family relations in the jurisdiction where the trial will be held. For these reasons, it will be necessary to consult and prepare with counsel.
Additional resources provided by the author
Follow these instructions, and you are on your way to providing a stellar deposition. Should you have furrther questions, feel free to contact me.
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