5 TIPS FOR A SMOOTHER DEPOSITION
Attorneys are deposition experts, taking depositions for each case they handle. Court reporters provide court reporting services every day for many
go more smoothly?
- DON’T ARGUE
One big disruption to a smooth deposition is argument – arguments with attorneys, with witnesses, and even with court reporters or legal videographers. The arguments threaten to derail trains of thought and lines of questioning, not to mention create a tense and unpleasant environment.
Certainly attorneys or clients will disagree – that’s why they’re in a deposition to begin with. And it’s understandable they’ll disagree over facts and proper questions. But those disagreements aren’t usually resolved at a deposition. The civil rules only require that the parties state their objections at a deposition so a court can resolve them later. Heated argument in deposition only pads the legal expense and lets attorneys say things that may embarrass them later.
- LET THE WITNESS TALK
Most witnesses aren’t natural at cross-examination; it’s an uncomfortable position. They misunderstand questions, they assume the direction of lines of questions, they argue points, or they want to avoid admissions. For whatever reasons, their answers can be nonresponsive.
The tendency of most attorneys is to interrupt and redirect a witness’s answer. This invites argument and magnifies frustrations. But some lawyers just let the witness talk. The witness may offer helpful information the attorney wasn’t seeking, leading to unexpected evidence. And the attorney can still get an answer to his original question by re-asking.
- LISTEN TO THE WITNESS
This sounds so elemental, but many attorneys become so engrossed in their planned questions or in an argumentative point that they don’t listen to the witness. And when they don’t listen, they miss obvious follow-up questions and new lines of inquiry. Listening is hard work, and good attorneys listen well.
- TAKE A BREAK
Court reporting is challenging work, both physically and mentally. Court reporters need regular breaks.
More important, attorneys and witnesses need regular breaks. Breaks let the parties regroup, ease tensions, and refocus so they can resume a deposition with clear minds. Questions and testimony usually become more clear and the exchange more productive after a break.
- PREPARE YOUR EXHIBITS
Depositions can become disorganized and testimony confused as attorneys gather documents, distribute them among counsel, and review them with the witness. Testimony moves much more efficiently and clearly if the attorney prepares exhibits in advance by making copies for the witness and other counsel, marking the attorney’s work copy with references to areas of inquiry, and where possible, numbering exhibits and distributing them in advance.