How to Prepare Witnesses During Depositions
Every practicing litigator or defense attorney knows that the majority of civil cases are settled before they go to trial. Still, witnesses are almost always deposed before a court reporter, even if they never testify before a judge. This can be a nerve-racking experience for anxious witnesses, so be sure to prepare them thoroughly and ethically before your next legal deposition in San Jose.
Provide this checklist to your witnesses to help them prepare:
- Don’t speak to anyone about your upcoming deposition or disclose the events that took place once the deposition is complete. Confidentiality is vital in these legal matters.
- Turn off electronic devices before the deposition begins to prevent unnecessary interruptions.
- Speak slowly and clearly to help the court reporter transcribe your words accurately. Answer questions orally, not with hand gestures or by nodding or shaking your head.
- Pause before answering each question to formulate an honest, thoughtful answer. By not speaking too quickly, you also give your attorney time to object, if necessary.
- Listen to objections and instructions. Your attorney will protect you by objecting to inappropriate or inarticulate questions. Listen carefully and follow your attorney’s lead.
- Tell the truth. Every case has unfavorable facts, but it’s vital to deal with them truthfully during a deposition. Lying under oath is a crime, and conflicting testimonies or documents will likely reveal any falsehoods. Therefore, it’s critical to stick to the facts as if you were testifying in court before a judge.
- Give short, concise answers. Use “yes” or “no” whenever possible. “I don’t know” and “I can’t remember” are also appropriate, as long as they are true. Don’t provide speculative answers or volunteer information that could inadvertently bolster your opponent’s case.
- Keep your composure and remain professional. Avoid being combative or evasive. Remain aware of your facial expressions and body language, especially if the deposition is being filmed. Don’t make jokes or sarcasm comments, as these don’t translate well to a written record.
- Ask for clarification, if necessary. Never answer a question you don’t understand. It’s appropriate to ask the questioning attorney to rephrase their question.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for a break if you feel yourself losing focus or needing some air. Your attorney may also suggest taking a breather once every hour or so. During this time, anything you say stays off the record, but limit your conversations to small talk and the weather.
- Read documents carefully and in their entirety before answering questions about them. Don’t bring any materials with you to the deposition or volunteer to look for any additional documents.
At Talty Court Reporters, we utilize the latest technology to deliver the very best results in your legal case. Turn to us for top-quality court reporting and transcribing services, video and audio conferencing, remote depositions, and much more. For additional information about our services, or to request a cost estimate, please contact us today.