What Is a Deposition and How Does It Work?
The American Bar Association shares that discovery is an important stage in the trial process and that one of the most common forms of discovery is the deposition, which is testimony that is made out of court but under oath. The discovery phase allows both sides in the case to exchange relevant information regarding the evidence and witnesses each will be presenting at trial – helping to ensure that both the prosecution and the defense begin on a level playing field. Depositions are critical components in the discovery process, and court reporters have a fundamental role in the matter of how does a deposition work. At Kusar Court Reporters, we provide experienced court reporters who are well prepared to help you with your deposition needs and can be reached at (800) 282-3376.
What Is the Deposition Process?
Instead of happening inside of a courtroom, a deposition is typically conducted in a separate location, and both sides have the right to attend. The party who asks the questions is the deposing party, and the deponent is the person who is being questioned. While either party to a case and any involved witness can be deposed, depositions cannot be used to harass the opposition and are limited to one per deponent. Because depositions are a critical form of evidence, they need to be recorded verbatim to ensure all nuanced meaning is retained, and this makes having a skilled court reporter paramount.
How Does a Deposition Work?
Unlike the written answers to the questions posed in interrogatories (as defined by the California State Legislature), depositions take place in person – or via videoconference – and their purpose is twofold, including:
- To learn what the person being deposed knows in relation to the case at hand
- To preserve the testimony of the person being deposed and to help ensure that it does not waiver
Depositions directly support discovery’s goal of ensuring that neither the defense nor the prosecution is blindsided during the court process. By deposing key witnesses and parties to a case, both sides have the opportunity to better understand the pending case and to strategize accordingly.
The Role of a Deposition
A deposition can play many important roles in the course of a legal case, including:
- Allowing an attorney to obtain physical evidence and sworn testimony from witnesses who are not parties to the case
- Allowing an attorney to better prepare for cross-examining a witness at trial
- Allowing an attorney to preserve a witness’s testimony – deposed testimony can be used to impeach contradictory statements made at trial
- Allowing an attorney to better evaluate a witness’s credibility
- Allowing an attorney to flush out information about evidence obtained via alternate discovery methods
Court reporters are essential to preserving the rigor of depositions, and the dedicated court reporters at Kusar Court Reporters are standing by to help.
What Should You Not Say in a Deposition?
If you are being deposed, it is critical to be honest, but it is also important to know that there are things you should not say. For example, you should carefully consider every question that is put to you and should respond only to the exact question at hand – without expounding on the matter. Taking your time, listening carefully, and refraining from blurting out answers in haste are key to successfully handling the deposition process. Additional points to keep in mind include:
- Dressing professionally helps to bolster your credibility.
- False testimony will come back to haunt you – be as straightforward as you can.
- Taking a break when you need it is well advised and can go a long way toward helping you maintain your composure.
- By taking your time before responding to the questions put to you, you help to ensure that you provide honest and succinct answers and allow your attorney the time necessary to object to any inappropriate questions.
How Long Is the Process of Deposition?
The deposition process, which can be conducted in person, via videoconference, or even over the phone, includes several important steps.
Swearing in the Deponent
To begin, the person being deposed must be sworn in to ensure that everything said during the deposition and recorded by the court reporter is under oath. Once this is addressed, the deponent’s name and address will be established. At this point the deposing attorney will also make sure that the deponent understands he or she is under oath and that if he or she does not understand a question, asking for clarification is advised. Ultimately, answering a question indicates that a deponent understands it.
Questioning by the Attorney
Once the basics are established, the attorney conducting the deposition will begin the process; and while depositions are very similar to courtroom happenings, there are distinctions, including:
- Because there is not a judge present, the attorney’s questions cannot be ruled inadmissible, and the deponent is generally required to answer.
- The deponent’s attorney is generally present, and while they can object to a line of questioning, such objections typically do not hold considerable sway since a judge is not present to rule on them.
- Any objections made during the deposition can be brought up for the judge to rule on later
Next, the deponent’s attorney is allowed to cross-examine him or her, which generally amounts to clarifying prior statements. A redirect and recross are also permitted.
Creating the Transcript
Finally, the court reporter will prepare a transcript that reflects every word spoken during the deposition, and this is offered to each party involved.
Some depositions take no more than an hour or two, and some last hours. Extensions, however, are sometimes allowed.
How Does a Deposition Work? An Experienced California Court Reporter Will Play an Important Role
Court reporters are essential to the deposition process, and the trusted court reporters at Kusar Court Reporters have the experience, skill, and professionalism to meet your highest expectations. For more information, please do not wait to contact or call us at (800) 282-3376 today.