What is a Deposition and What is Its Purpose?
A deposition is where an Attorney will ask questions of the Witness under oath in front of a Court Reporter. There are several reasons for taking a deposition. These may vary depending on your case, the knowledge of the witness, time, or other factors.
Some of these reasons may include, but are not limited to:
- Evaluate the Witness – The deposition is the first chance the attorney will have to ask the witness hard questions about the case. Through the examination, the attorney will have an opportunity to determine how well the witness will present at trial to the Judge or Jury. This will help the attorney determine if the witness appears to be truthful or not. How well does the witness answer questions? How well does the witness withstand pressure? Does the witness remember facts well?
- Gather Information – This is the most useful purpose of the deposition. The attorney is seeking to find out what the Witness is going to say at trial. This includes learning the witness’ side of the story, finding out what evidence supports or refutes their side of the story, what documents, emails, texts, recordings, or other items that may exist, and may need to be obtained in advance of trial that may hurt your case or help your case. Knowing in advance that these exist can be very helpful to be able to build a defense against this evidence prior to trial, instead of being surprised at trial. You never want to be surprised at trial. You may be able to prove what they said at their deposition was in fact false and have caught them in a lie that you can use against them at trial.
- Solidify Testimony – The attorney is trying to “lock down” the witness’ testimony for trial. This could be if the witness is unavailable for trial and may be helpful to your case or to ensure that the story does not change prior to trial. This may also be to ensure that there are no surprises at trial and if so, the deposition could be used to impeach the witness at trial.
- Gain Admissions – It is possible the witness may admit to something during the deposition that helps your case. By asking questions about the facts of the case, the attorney is attempting the get the witness to admit to facts that help their case.
- Authenticate Documents – There may be key documents or exhibits that may be produced that have no clear author, photos, recordings, or handwritten notes for example. You do not want to be guessing how to get these into evidence at trial. By taking the deposition of a witness you can have the evidence authenticated or be able to identify who can authenticate the evidence.
Depositions are very important and are not necessary in every case. Through effective depositions, you can learn new facts about your case and properly prepare for trial. We recommend you discuss this further with your attorney today.