Undergoing a deposition (“getting deposed”) is a common step in the legal process, mainly if your case isn’t settled immediately. While depositions can be daunting for many, including attorneys, preparing adequately can significantly ease the process.
- Deposition Tip #1 — Wait For the Lawyer to Finish their Question, and Be Sure You Understand it Before Answering
- Deposition Tip #2 — “I Don’t Know” and “I Can’t Remember” Are Acceptable Answers
- Deposition Tip #3 — Your Deposition is Not Your Time To Tell “Your Side of the Story”
- Deposition Tip #4 — Keep Your Cool
- Deposition Tip #5 — At the End of Your Deposition, Don’t Waive Your Right to “Read and Sign”
- Deposition FAQs
- What happens if I make a mistake during my deposition?
- Can I refuse to answer a question during my deposition?
- How should I prepare for my deposition?
- What is the role of my attorney during the deposition?
- Can I change my testimony after the deposition?
- Is it possible to have a deposition without a lawyer?
- How long does a deposition usually last?
- Can a deposition be used at trial?
- What should I wear to my deposition?
- Can I take breaks during my deposition?
- Can a deposition be used to impeach a witness at trial in Oklahoma?
Deposition Tip #1 — Wait For the Lawyer to Finish their Question, and Be Sure You Understand it Before Answering
Interrupting or answering before a question is fully asked is a common mistake during depositions.
This habit can lead to confusion and inaccuracies in the court transcript, as court reporters can only accurately record one speaker at a time. Additionally, preempting a question’s end might lead to answering an unintended question, potentially benefiting the opposing side. To avoid these pitfalls, listen carefully to each question, allow your attorney to object if necessary, and ask for clarification without hesitation if a question is unclear.
Deposition Tip #2 — “I Don’t Know” and “I Can’t Remember” Are Acceptable Answers
It’s natural to want to provide answers during a deposition, but guessing can lead to inconsistencies.
If you genuinely don’t know the answer or cannot recall a detail, it’s perfectly acceptable to say so. Attempting to fill gaps with guesses can be misconstrued as dishonesty, especially if the guesses are later proven incorrect. You can always inform the deposing attorney if you remember an answer later.
Deposition Tip #3 — Your Deposition is Not Your Time To Tell “Your Side of the Story”
Depositions are designed for fact-finding, not for presenting your narrative. Sticking to the questions without inserting additional information that hasn’t been solicited is crucial. Your attorney will have the opportunity to present your case fully at trial or in settlement discussions. Providing unsolicited information during a deposition can inadvertently harm your case.
Deposition Tip #4 — Keep Your Cool
Depositions can sometimes become emotionally charged, particularly if sensitive topics are broached. Maintaining composure is critical. Reacting with anger or sarcasm can negatively impact how you are perceived and potentially affect your case’s outcome. Remember, displaying patience and calm under pressure can only work in your favor, portraying you as a credible and sympathetic party.
Deposition Tip #5 — At the End of Your Deposition, Don’t Waive Your Right to “Read and Sign”
Choosing to review and sign your deposition transcript allows you to correct any inaccuracies or incomplete answers. This step is critical for ensuring the deposition accurately reflects your testimony. Corrections are made on an errata sheet, which is far more straightforward than addressing discrepancies at trial. Always read and sign; it is an opportunity to ensure your deposition serves your best interests.
What happens if I make a mistake during my deposition?
If you realize you’ve made a mistake during your deposition, you can correct it when you review and sign the transcript. This process involves noting the correction on an errata sheet, ensuring the final transcript accurately reflects your testimony.
Can I refuse to answer a question during my deposition?
While you are expected to answer questions during your deposition, you can refuse answers that could incriminate you. Your attorney can also object to questions they deem inappropriate or irrelevant, guiding you on whether to answer.
How should I prepare for my deposition?
Preparation involves reviewing relevant documents, discussing the process with your attorney, and understanding the critical facts of your case. It can also be beneficial to practice answering questions succinctly and truthfully.
What is the role of my attorney during the deposition?
Your attorney’s role is to object to inappropriate questions, guide answering, and protect your rights throughout the deposition. They can also ask you clarifying questions if necessary.
Can I change my testimony after the deposition?
While it’s best to be as accurate as possible during the deposition, the read-and-sign process allows for corrections. However, significant changes from your deposition testimony could be scrutinized at trial.
Is it possible to have a deposition without a lawyer?
It’s highly advisable to have legal representation during a deposition to protect your interests and ensure the process is conducted fairly.
How long does a deposition usually last?
The deposition duration can vary widely depending on the case’s complexity and the number of questions the deposing attorney has. They can last anywhere from a few hours to several days.
Can a deposition be used at trial?
Yes, depositions can be used at trial for various purposes, including impeaching a witness’s credibility if their trial testimony differs from their deposition.
What should I wear to my deposition?
Dressing professionally and respectfully is recommended, as it can positively influence how you are perceived by all parties involved in the deposition.
Can I take breaks during my deposition?
You can request breaks during your deposition, especially for long sessions. However, it’s best to discuss this with your attorney beforehand.
Can a deposition be used to impeach a witness at trial in Oklahoma?
Yes, but only if the witness had the opportunity to read, sign, or make corrections to the deposition transcript. This ensures the accuracy and fairness of using depositions at trial, as noted in Badillo v. Mid Century Ins. Co. [2005 OK 48 – Okla: Supreme Court]