Do you have a witness who can’t be present for a court hearing? Are you hoping to eliminate surprises and feel more confident entering a trial? Depositions are the ideal way to gather testimonies, evidence, and expertise from third parties before the case appears before a judge. If you are new to the legal process, or have been asked to give a court deposition, learn more about this process to help you understand why it’s so important.
What is a deposition?
A deposition is a witness interview that goes on the record before the trial takes place. Sometimes, depositions are recorded on paper only, but video depositions enhance the narrative and provide more credibility.
No matter what form they take, depositions are the foundation of a legal case. In fact, some are so convincing that they persuade the other party to drop the charges or settle the case outside of court.
How long should a deposition be?
A legal deposition can be as short or long as necessary for the witness to deliver their sworn statement. However, in California, depositions are limited to seven hours per day. This limit coincides with federal law.
Where do depositions typically take place?
An attorney’s office is the most common place for depositions to be held. Both parties can also agree to meet in a secure, third-party location outside the courthouse.
Conference rooms at court reporting firms are specifically designed to facilitate legal depositions in a private setting. Video conferencing is also available to allow for remote depositions to take place if the witness is out of state.
How does an attorney prepare for a deposition?
Attorneys with years of experience taking depositions may not require much preparation. However, it’s recommended that they answer the witness’s questions and tell them what to expect during the interview to make them feel as comfortable as possible. Keep in mind that attorneys are prohibited from leading or coaching the witness, which could affect the testimony the witness provides.
What should an attorney do during a deposition?
To help the process go smoothly, attorneys should do the following when taking depositions:
- Provide everyone in attendance with instructions before the interview begins.
- Make the environment as comfortable as possible for all participants.
- Instruct the witness to answer questions as succinctly as possible without providing any superfluous information.
- Minimize distractions by asking everyone to silence their cell phones and other noise-making devices.
- Avoid deviating from the written questions.
- Speak clearly so the witness and stenographer can understand.
Who should attend a deposition?
The recording is meant to be private and secure, so in most cases, the attorneys for both parties and the witness being interviewed are the only people who should be present.
Talty Court Reporters makes it easy to take depositions from anywhere in the country with our deluxe conference rooms and remote recording services. To learn more about this process, or to schedule a deposition in San Jose, please contact us today.
Legal cases are often won and lost, not due to facts or irrefutable forensic evidence, but by a witness’s ability to communicate their account convincingly. That’s why successful litigation depends on establishing credibility during your deposition. Here’s how to help ensure your witnesses get the facts across succinctly and consistently as you prepare to take your case to trial.
Consider Your Communication Strategy
Whether you’re taking a deposition or arguing your case before a judge and jury, it’s important to show rather than tell. This means guiding your audience to the same conclusions you came to without making declarative statements. To accomplish this, you must provide your witness with opportunities to highlight the merits of your argument naturally.
Prepare the Witness
While attorneys are prohibited from leading or coaching their witnesses, it’s perfectly acceptable to engage in witness preparation. This is advisable even if you believe a witness will come across as credible from the get-go. Witness preparation involves answering questions about what to expect during depositions and trials to prevent confusion and panic. After all, these reactions don’t lend credibility to a case.
When preparing your witness, communicate the importance of delivering concise answers. Giving testimony is not the same as having a conversation, and without preparation, a witness may be compelled to offer unnecessary information that could end up hurting your case.
Tell a Deliberate Narrative
Think of every case you handle as a narrative that needs to be told accurately and thoroughly. As an attorney, it’s your job to reconstruct the key events your witnesses observed by asking the right questions. Develop a strategy that hits on specific details that support your case.
Remember the importance of consistency in your content. If the witness changes their story or goes back to fill in any information they forgot the first time around, a rock-solid argument could start to seem less convincing. With all the facts outlined and contextualized consistently, your audience will feel more invested in your position.
Review Your Deposition Transcript
Depositions are often taken in advance and presented to a judge at a later date. To prevent errors or surprises that could compromise your credibility, carefully review any transcripts or videos for accuracy and clarity before submitting them to the court. If you feel anything needs to be clarified, take care of it immediately.
Record Your Deposition Professionally
Transcribing your deposition is certainly important, but videotaping the interview can enhance the narrative and provide more credibility. Choose a suitable setting to hold the deposition, and hire a legal videographer with access to professional recording equipment. Then, convey to the witness that they should arrive well-dressed for the interview.
Talty Court Reporters can help you establish credibility during your deposition by providing deluxe conference room rentals, professional video reporting, and expert transcription services. To learn more, or to schedule a deposition in San Jose, please contact us today.
An outline can be a helpful tool for preparing for a deposition , but it shouldn’t become restrictive. Treating your outline as a rough draft instead of the final version will give you the flexibility you need to conduct a thorough deposition without being restricted by your initial plan. Using your deposition outline to prepare your court reporter in San Jose for any potentially challenging aspects of testimony, such as industry-specific terminology, can also be helpful.
A deposition outline helps you map out the questions you want to ask in the order in which you want to ask them. It also helps you highlight the information you have and what you want to gain through deposition testimony. However, it is important to react to the situation at hand during the deposition itself. As witnesses provide information in the course of the deposition, give yourself the freedom to address new information and change your planned questions in response to new facts. This will allow you to get the most from the testimony without overlooking any important details.
The highest priority of court reporters serving San Jose is the accuracy of their transcriptions. Ethical, dedicated court reporters won’t hesitate to interrupt a deposition if their ability to get information on record is jeopardized. This can sometimes lead to ill will among the parties involved. If you’re an attorney, here’s what your court reporter wants you to know.
Why Deposition Interruptions Happen
Court reporters record verbatim speech at 225 words per minute or faster. Speed is important, but accuracy is paramount. Simply put, interruptions happen when a witness mumbles or offers a non-verbal response, or when multiple parties interrupt each other. In these situations, the court reporter must interrupt the proceedings to have the witness repeat the statement. Newly certified court reporters do tend to need to interrupt depositions more frequently, however, they’re typically the least willing to do it. Court reporters with plenty of experience generally don’t need to interrupt as often, but they’re more willing to assert themselves when the situation calls for it.
What You Can Do to Prevent Interruptions
Attorneys prefer to keep interruptions to a minimum, as they disrupt the flow of questioning and answering. Yet, many attorneys don’t realize that they play a direct role in how many interruptions are necessary. It’s well worth the time to discuss some ground rules before you get the deposition started. Clearly explain to the witness that the role of the court reporter is to take down an accurate record of everything that everyone says on the record. In order to do this, the court reporter must be able to hear every word. Establish the following rules:
- Only one person is to speak at one time.
- Wait until the questioning attorney is completely finished asking a question before responding.
- Every speaker should talk with reasonable clarity, volume, and speed.
- No non-verbal responses (i.e., head-shaking or nodding) are allowed.
Additionally, attorneys can help court reporters do their job well by providing a short information packet with the proper spellings of names and common industry jargon.
Did you know that the process you use to book deposition services can potentially help your court reporter better prepare for your case? If you will be working with a court reporter in San Jose , then keep reading to learn what you can do to help her during the deposition booking process.
Start Communicating as Early as Possible
The sooner that you schedule a deposition or hearing with the court reporting agency, the better. Your court reporter is part of your team and should be included in the process as soon as possible. Also, you can help your court reporter by keeping her informed of any cancellations or scheduling changes. Additionally, sending a copy of any subpoena or notice that you plan to use can save you time later by allowing your court reporter to prepare for the deposition in advance.
Advise the Court Reporting Agency of Special Circumstances
You can help your court reporter help you by informing the court reporting agency if you expect that court or a deposition will stretch through lunch or into the evening. By allowing your court reporter to make necessary arrangements for these circumstances, both of you can benefit.
Also, if you suspect that you will require the services of an interpreter or videographer, then this should be shared with the court reporting agency in advance. When doing this, provide what details you can by explaining what type of witness you will be using and why an interpreter or videographer is needed.
Specify Your Preferences and Needs Ahead of Time
Is there a format you want the transcript to be in? If so, then it is ideal to inform your court reporting agency of this before the deposition. Similarly, if you will need the transcript to be expedited, then it is best to let the court reporting agency know at the time of the booking. Finally, if you will need the services of a videographer, make your appointment accordingly, as he will need to arrive before the deposition to set up the equipment.
Mistakes in a deposition may mean the difference between winning and losing at trial. If you have run into errors with one of your depositions in San Jose , then read on for tips on how to deal with this problem.
Address Them in Time
Deponents have 30 days to review the deposition transcript after being notified by the court reporter that it is available. Keep in mind that the deponent is not required to read over her testimony unless she or another party requests it.
Request Review on Record
During the deposition, ask the deponent to review the transcript once she is informed that it is available. If you choose to use deposition testimony against the witness, and she must admit that she reviewed the transcript and determined it to be correct, then making this request may benefit you at trial and give your argument more strength. Developing a standard time to request a review may make it easier for you to remember during each deposition.
Understand the Review Process
Within 30 days of being notified that the transcript is available, the witness should read and review the transcript, as well as create a list of any changes that she wishes to make. Also, she must sign a statement that explains the reasons for each of the changes. If the witness does not provide any reasons, then she will be bound to her original testimony. Also, the court will assess whether any changes requested serve a legitimate purpose. If the answers are changed, note that the court reporter will attach the signed list of changes to the transcript, and both the original and new answers will be included in the record that was generated during discovery.
Consider Not Requesting Review
On the other hand, if you noticed a mistake that the witness made and you would like to use this against her at trial, then you may not want to request that she review the transcript and submit a signed list of changes and reasons for them.
To get the most of a deposition , you need a clean transcript to refer to when it’s complete. Although your court reporter in San Jose is trained to maintain the utmost accuracy when preparing transcripts, there are many things you can do to ensure that things go as smoothly as possible. During your next deposition, keep these tips in mind as you ask whatever questions you have.
Every time you speak during a deposition, keep in mind that you are creating a written record as well. Use clearly worded questions that are phrased in a way that is easy to understand. Avoid adding superfluous words. If the witness asks you to repeat the question, do so yourself rather than asking the court reporter to read it back, so that a second record of the question is created. Allow witnesses to answer questions completely before you start addressing them again, so you don’t talk over each other. Consider making a video of the deposition as a backup, in case there are any questions about the written transcript.
Depositions are one of the most flexible discovery devices attorneys have at their disposals. There are far fewer rules for deposing people than there are interrogatories and requests for admissions. Here are some of the people who may be brought before a court reporter in San Jose for a deposition.
Any party to the case can be deposed during the discovery phase. A party can be either a person or an organization. In the event that the party is an organization, employees or other people with knowledge of the events may be deposed. In some cases, a deposition notice sent to a party organization may simply specify that the person with the most knowledge of the situation should attend the deposition. Non-parties may also be deposed, such as witnesses to events or people with knowledge of actions by the parties in the case. For non-party deposition witnesses, the deposition notice also requires a subpoena. Both party and non-party deponents can also be required to produce documents related to the case. The request for documents should be included in the deposition notice.
Court reporters are an essential part of getting your job done as an attorney, whether you’re using transcripts they prepared in court to get ready for an appeal or hiring them for deposition services in San Jose . Since court reporters perform such an important function, it makes sense that you would want to give them all the support they need to get the job done. Here are some of the things your court reporter wishes you knew—keep them in mind for your next deposition.
Court reporters rely on attorneys to manage the conversation.
It’s extremely difficult for your court reporter to accurately transcribe everything being said when people are shouting over each other, mumbling, or speaking too fast. Your court reporter will be reluctant to interject, so he or she will rely on you to ensure that there is an orderly flow to the questioning and that witnesses speak up and speak clearly. If necessary, your court reporter will ask for an adjustment, but you can help him or her focus on the transcript by managing the conversation yourself.
Court reporters can’t discuss your client’s case.
Attorneys frequently ask court reporters to offer an opinion about their client’s case. They ask the court reporter to weigh in on how witnesses were acting or if he or she thinks that the case has merit. Although court reporters are privy to many different cases, they are strictly impartial and focus exclusively on creating an accurate transcript. In order to remain professional, court reporters will not comment on your case or their opinion of the deposition.
Court reporters need breaks.
Depositions frequently take many hours, and attorneys will often order lunch for the participants so that there is no need to take a break. Because court reporters can record the proceedings and eat at the same time, working through lunch means they don’t get a break. Schedule breaks in your deposition for your court reporter to eat, use the restroom, and relax for a few minutes, so he or she can return refreshed and ready to focus.
For new attorneys, your first deposition can be as nerve-racking as it is exciting. Before you even begin, hire an experienced court reporter and make arrangements for any additional services you will need, such as interpreting services or video deposition services in San Jose. As you get ready for your first deposition, here are the things you need to know to make it a success.
Know What You Want to Get Out of the Deposition
One of the first things to consider when you’re preparing for a deposition is if you think the case will be settled out of court or if you will end up going to trial. If you believe that a trial is the likely outcome, then you may wish to hold back some of your strongest questioning and evidence so that you can rely on it to surprise the witness in court. If you think that settling is more likely, you may want to use all of the evidence and your toughest questions during the deposition.
Once you decide where you think the case is heading, determine two or three points you wish to get from the witness’ testimony. This will help you choose the questions you want to ask and what evidence you may wish to present during the deposition.
Phrase Your Questions Carefully
Before you begin to write your questions, decide if you plan to approach the witness as though you are conducting a direct examination in court or like a cross examination, which is likely to be more adversarial. Generally, if the deposition witness will be available to testify at trial, then you may wish to make your questions open-ended, like a direct examination, to simply get his or her story that you can use with more aggressive questioning in court. If the witness will not be at trial and the deposition will be played via video, treat it more like a cross-examination.
Remember Your Court Reporter
During all questioning, be sure to speak clearly so that the court reporter can accurately record the interactions. Be sure you understand when your court reporter can deliver your transcripts to you. Don’t forget to give everyone, including your court reporter, breaks during the deposition process.
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