How to beat a deposition?
What should you do to win your deposition?
What are the important tips and strategies that you must know about!
In this article, we will answer the question “how to beat a deposition”, so you know all there is to know about it!
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Table of Contents
How to beat a deposition
You are a party to a lawsuit or a non-party having received a notice of deposition.
You know that you must testify and be deposed.
How can you succeed at that?
What can you do so your deposition goes as smoothly as possible.
In a nutshell, just like anything you may do in life, good preparation is the key to your success.
Find an attorney
The first thing you should do is to speak to your lawyer (if you have one) or find an attorney (if you don’t).
The idea here is to have your attorney help prepare you for your deposition.
In this context, you may go over the case’s sensitive topics, answer sample questions, or go over the facts of the case that you are being called to potentially testify on.
Tell the truth
Then, during the deposition, you should tell the truth.
When you tell the truth, no matter how many times a person can ask you questions, your answers will remain consistent.
However, if you are not telling the truth, at some point in time, the opposing lawyer may find the cracks in your story and drill into it even further.
You are also offering your statements under oath.
Any false testimonies can result in civil penalties or even result in perjury.
Make sure you answer every question clearly and concisely.
You should only answer those questions that you adequately understand.
Do not assume what the question is or answer before the opposing counsel has yet to ask the question.
You must understand the exact nature of the question being asked so you can answer specifically that question.
Answer with words
When you answer, you should speak your answer in words.
The reason is simple.
The questions and answers are being recorded by a court reporter in charge of preparing a deposition transcript following the deposition.
The court reporter can only transcribe words spoken, not hand gestures or inaudible responses.
When you answer questions, remain factual.
Fact witnesses must provide factual statements and information to help clarify the circumstances of a particular issue or event.
As a result, you should answer based on what you know.
You should avoid providing your personal opinion or making inferences about things you heard others say.
It may be difficult at times but you should always stay calm.
By answering the opposing party’s questions calmly and in a composed fashion, you’ll remain focused and able to answer without being emotionally disturbed.
Don’t forget, the opposing party may deliberately want to frustrate you or get you to lose your cool so you make unwanted statements or say things that can be prejudicial to your case.
If you feel anger creeping up or you are losing your temper, you should take a small break, go to the bathroom or find a way to change your mood.
Consult the exhibits
If you are asked questions about a document or an exhibit, you should make sure you see and consult the document before answering.
Have the examiner provide you with a copy of the document so you can read and understand what it is to refresh your memory about its content and context in which this document was prepared.
In some cases, the opposing counsel or examiner may be the one who loses his or her cool.
If that happens and the person is intimidating you, bullying you, interrupting you and not letting you answer the questions, you should respectfully demand that the examiner show you respect.
This means that you calmly ask the examiner to let you finish answering your questions or having them clarify questions that were asked incompletely (due to their frustration perhaps!).
Don’t volunteer information
If the examiner has asked you specific questions, answer the specific questions.
Do not try to volunteer additional information or be “kind” and “helpful”.
Your goal as a fact witness is to testify as to what you know and answer the questions asked of you.
You should not address topics or discuss matters that are not specifically asked during the deposition.
Stop on objections
During the deposition, at any point in time your lawyer says “I object” or “objection”, you should immediately stop answering the question that was asked from you.
When there is an objection, it means that your lawyer finds a question was perhaps illegal or should not be answered for some legal reasons.
In that case, you should let your lawyer resolve the objection with the opposing counsel so they can reach an agreement on how to proceed.
When your lawyer instructs you to proceed with answering the questions, you should continue answering.
How to prepare for a deposition
To prepare for a deposition, you should make sure you do a few important things to give yourself the best chances of winning the deposition.
Read the case
The first thing that you should do is to study your case.
You should look at the exhibits presented in your case and what pleading documents have been filed and exchanged between the litigating parties.
It’s important to understand the context of the lawsuit so you can better situate your deposition in the grand scheme of things.
Review the exhibits
Reviewing your case means that you should review all the exhibits and documents filed in support of your case or the ones that you have been asked to bring under subpoena duces tecum to the deposition.
It’s important to know the relevant documents to your deposition and how they are important to the case.
You may be asked about the circumstances of how a letter was issued to you or how you were able to get a report.
It’s important to know the documentary foundation of your case so you can adequately prepare for the deposition and beat it.
Review case with an attorney
Once you have studied your case, the next step is to review your case with your attorney prior to the deposition.
During this exercise, your attorney can provide you with an explanation as to the legal parameters of the lawsuit, what are the contentious issues of the case and what are the important facts underpinning the legal theories advanced in the case.
Is your case a negligence case, a medical malpractice case, negligence per se case etc.
Your attorney can give you the highlight of the essential facts and legal theories applicable.
Another good preparatory exercise in light of a deposition is to simulate a deposition with your attorney.
Have your attorney ask you questions as if it’s the questions from the opposing party.
Role-playing will help you formulate your responses to best present the facts that you are personally aware of.
The goal here is not to memorize your lawyer’s questions and have boilerplate answers, the idea is to see what type of questions you can expect the opposing party to ask from you.
Tips and strategies
What are some tips and strategies to be successful at a deposition?
Here is a list of some useful strategies to improve your chances of winning your deposition and giving an amazing testimony.
We have here 33 tips for the day of the deposition:
- Answer the questions clearly
- Wait before the question is fully asked before you answer
- Listen to the question so you don’t assume what is being asked
- If the question is not clear, have the examiner clarify
- Only answer the specific question
- If one question is composed of many questions, ask which question to answer (compound questions)
- Don’t volunteer information
- Don’t overstate your answers
- Don’t guess an answer
- Don’t give an opinion
- Don’t say “I don’t know” rather state why you don’t have factual knowledge of something
- Don’t answer by saying “why”
- Avoid exaggerating like saying “always” or “never”
- Don’t give absolute answers
- Step answer if your attorney asks you to
- Don’t dwell on dates and numbers unless you really know them
- Don’t help the other party
- Don’t raise subjects or issues that may help the other party
- Don’t answer with a question
- Provide a confident answer so when you are asked “are you sure” you can remain confident of your answer
- Do not answer by using head movements or hand gestures, speak your answer
- Consult documents before answer questions about them
- Don’t get rushed to give an answer
- Don’t get bullied
- Don’t argue with the examiner
- Don’t let your answers be rephrased in a way that does no longer represent the content of your answers
- Do not assume anything
- Stay calm
- If you need to get your thoughts straight or keep emotions in check, ask for a break
- Speak with confidence
- Don’t be aggressive with the opposing counsel
- Try to give a good overall impression so you can show good “credibility”
Here we have 9 tips to prepare for the deposition prior to the deposition date:
- Know your case
- Study all documents, exhibits, reports and pleadings
- Wear conservative clothes
- Prepare your case with your lawyer
- Simulate the deposition with your attorney
- Research the laws applicable to your case
- Have your lawyer give you a few representative case laws to read
- Ask your lawyer for the rules of how the deposition is going to be handled on the day of the deposition
- Get your thoughts and documents organized
So what can you do to have a successful deposition?
How do you win your case before it reaches the court?
What are the tactics to prepare for a deposition in court?
Let’s summarize what we talked about in this article.
How to beat a deposition: