Attorney, Colby Kanouse talks about what a deposition consists of and how to properly prepare for a deposition if one is needed for a case.
Hi Folks. For those of you that don’t know me, I’m Colby Kanouse and I’m an Attorney here at Chuck Franklin Law. Today we’re going to talk a little bit about “Depositions”, tell you what a deposition is; what it is used for; and we’ll go over some ground rules that will make your deposition hopefully go a little smoother.
So, a deposition is a discovery tool that Attorneys on either side of a case can use in order to acquire information regarding the other party’s claims. You can dispose parties; you can depose witnesses and what you’re doing when you do a deposition is basically just try to learn as much as you can about the other sides position and what evidence they have to bring to trial.
So, a deposition is one tool to do that; and when you do a deposition what basicallywhat you are going is, you’re summoning a party or subpoenaing a witness to come in and to give you testimony under oath in front of a Court Reporter. And it’s the same oath in a deposition that you would be under if you were testifying in Court. You’re just in a slightly less formal setting and there’s no Judge there.
So, the Court Reporter, she writes down everything that’s said. Because of that, it’s important that people observe rules that they wouldn’t really worry about in normal conversation. Probably the biggest one is we tend to say uh huh and huh uh a lot and that doesn’t fly in a deposition. Everybody understands what you say when you do it in normal conversation; but if you do it during a deposition, and six months later when the Attorneys you don’t remember if it was uh or an huh un go back and try to read the transcript, they’re not going to know. And rather than, spend two years fighting over where something was a uh huh or a huh uh, it’s a lot easier just to correct a person if you’re in a deposition.
So, if you’re in a deposition and somebody asks you something and you say uh huh and they say is that a yes or is that a no, don’t get frustrated. People tend to do it a lot and sometimes people get frustrated because the Attorney or someone in the room keeps saying is that a yes? Is that a no? Just keep in mind the reason they are doing it is so that the transcript makes sense later. And if, you get a good transcript, odds are you won’t get summoned back to testify in Court because the Attorney’s can read it in your deposition transcript. So, it’s important that you follow that rule.
In a similar vein, if someone asks you how big was a certain object and you say oh, it was about this big, they’re going to know what you are talking about that day; but they’re not going to have a clue what that means when they go back and look at the transcript. So, and they say about a foot or a foot and a half? And again, they’re not trying to suggest an answer or give you a hard time, they’re just trying to be mindful of the fact that the goal of the whole deposition is to get a useful transcript at the end.
Another issue that comes up a lot of times is people tend to talk over each other. In a normal conversation that works because one person knows what the other person is saying before they’re done actually saying it. And you can’t do that in a deposition. The Court Reporters will get really mad at you if you do because they can only write down what one person is saying at a time. And so, it’s important that you observe a pause.
The biggest thing in a deposition if you’re sitting for one and you’re being deposedis to answer the question that is asked. What that requires you to do is several things. First, you have to listen to the question. You have to comprehend it. You have to make sure you understand what the question is and what they are asking for. And if you don’t, it’s really important that you speak up and you ask the person to rephrase it. You know, as Attorney’s, we tend to ask a whole lot of questions. It’s our job. And, when you ask that many questions, you inevitability ask some dumb questions. You ask some questions that are poorly phrased. And so, it’s really important that the witness, whoever it is that’s being deposed, understands the question. And if they don’t, it leads to all kinds of trouble down the road. So, if you don’t understand a question, please speak up and ask the examiner to rephrase the question. If you don’t and you answer it, everyone is just going to assume you understood it and that could look bad later.
Another thing that comes up a lot is people get nervous. And people… most people haven’t been that many lawsuits and most people haven’t sat for a deposition. So, they tend to get nervous. And what happens when the people get nervous is their mouths run and they never stop running. And you know, us Attorneys don’t like that because that’s our job. But in any event, you don’t need to give more information than a question calls for. So, and again, this goes back to listen to the question, make sure you understand it, and only answer the question that was asked. You can pretty much rely on the Attorney to be thorough in their questioning; and if they are not, then they are doing that at their own risk and you don’t need to worry about it.
So, those are kind of some do’s and don’ts for a deposition. There are other videos that explain some other finer points; but those are the things that I see that come up a lot in the deposition that I do.