Common Deposition Questions
One of the most important responsibilities of court reporters is to capture testimony during depositions. Depositions can have a significant impact on a case and uncover revealing information. The first step to preparing for depositions is to compile a list of questions to ask or that your client may be asked. The team at Kusar Court Reporters has extensive experience with capturing a verbatim record that includes common deposition questions and answers. Consider contacting us at (800) 282-3376 to schedule a confidential consultation to discuss how we can help with your deposition.
What Is a Deposition?
A deposition is a witness’ sworn statement that is recorded out of court, typically used as an information-gathering tool. The information may be presented to the court as evidence during a subsequent trial, or it may help the parties decide to settle their case.
A court reporter, such as one from Kusar Court Reporters, captures the questions and answers and prepares a written record with this information. The written record may also include attachments that were used as exhibits during the deposition. The parties and their attorneys have an opportunity to review the deposition and make any corrections.
What Are the Rules For Depositions?
Depositions are generally governed by the civil or criminal rules of procedure, which vary by each state. Federal civil cases follow the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Federal criminal cases follow the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. These rules dictate all aspects of depositions, including:
- The length of the deposition
- Where the deposition can occur
- The notice of deposition that must be provided to the parties and the deponent
- The sworn affirmation of the deponent
- How exhibits are introduced
- Potential objections that can be made during the process
- Custodial requirements of exhibits and the record
- How the record is to be completed
- How to correct the deposition if there are changes
If a party wants to do something contrary to the rules, they typically need permission from the other party or the court.
Factors That Affect Deposition Questions
Depositions can take many forms. Some may be friendly while others are adversarial. Some may be formal while others are informal. There are many factors that can affect the questions that are asked at a deposition, including:
- Whether the party being deposed is a party or witness in the case
- The type of case
- The damages involved in the case
- Where the deposition takes place
- How long the deposition is
Common Deposition Questions
Common deposition questions often fall into one or more of the following categories:
Introductory questions can help the deponent relax and understand the process. Introductory questions also lay the ground rules for the process. They also avoid having the deponent later claim they did not understand the process.
Common introductory questions include:
- Do you understand you are under oath?
- Have you ever had your deposition taken before today?
- Are you prepared to answer the questions I ask of you?
- Did you take any medications before your deposition today that could affect your ability to give honest answers?
- Will you inform me if you do not understand a question I ask of you today?
- Do you understand the procedures I have outlined for conducting this deposition?
Background questions try to reveal the deponent’s personal background. They also establish the deponent’s connection to and knowledge about the case. Common deposition questions about the deponent’s background include:
- What is your name?
- Can you spell your name?
- How old are you and what is your date of birth?
- Where do you live?
- Where have you lived during the last five years?
- Does anyone else live with you?
- Where do you work?
- Are you married?
- Where does your spouse work?
- Do you have children?
- Do you have a college degree?
- Where did you attend school?
- Have you ever been convicted of a crime?
- Have you ever been sued before?
- Have you been involved in any other legal claims or lawsuits?
- Do you take drugs or alcohol?
- Are you under the care of a doctor or therapist?
- What other jobs have you worked in the past?
- Have you used any other names?
Deposition Preparation Questions
These questions ask about how the deponent prepared for the deposition. Common questions may include:
- How did you prepare for today’s deposition?
- Who did you speak with about this case?
- What did you discuss about this case with anyone other than your lawyer?
- Did you review any documents about the case to prepare? Which documents did you review and why?
- Have you signed any agreements about this case?
The rest of the deposition may center upon the specific case and your involvement in it. These questions are specific to the case. Examples of these types of questions may include:
- What was the basis for your legal complaint?
- What is your basis for each allegation in the complaint?
- Why did you deny these particular statements in your answer?
- Did you hire any experts in the case?
- What did you personally observe or experience relevant to the case?
- What was the basis for a factual assertion in a third-person report you are presenting as evidence?
- Who else could corroborate your statements?
- Are there documents that can support your claim?
- What is your basis for the damages you are requesting?
- How did you calculate damages?
These questions can have the most significant impact on your case. Therefore, it is important to carefully think through the information you want to obtain during the deposition and prepare a list before the deposition date.
Contact Kusar Court Reporters for Help With Your Depositions
If you plan to conduct a deposition or defend your client in an upcoming deposition, it is vital to consider common deposition questions and how the deponent may respond to them. The team at Kusar Court Reporters has years of experience with all types of legal proceedings. We pride ourselves on our accuracy and professionalism. Contact us by calling (800) 282-3376 to schedule your upcoming depositions.