After a civil lawsuit is filed, the plaintiff and the defendant may require the other side and other witnesses to testify under oath, outside the courtroom, about the dispute or matter, or to testify in a deposition. Though no judge is present, the answers are recorded and the party or witness testifying takes an oath to tell the truth. The lawyers ask questions, and the parties or witnesses must answer truthfully. Each question that a lawyer asks is recorded by a court stenographer, and each answer that a party or witness gives likewise is recorded. The plaintiffs, the defendants, their attorneys, the witness or witnesses, and the court reporter are present in a deposition.
Preparation is critical. Dress appropriately. Tee-shirts and jeans generally are not appropriate, but business attire is appropriate. In addition, before the deposition, review the facts and documents related to the case with your lawyer. Be honest and candid with your lawyer. Otherwise, you and/or your lawyer may be blindsided, and it may harm your case.
At the deposition, do not be angry, rude, or a smart-aleck. Instead, be courteous, civil, and polite. Moreover, focus on the question that is asked. Answer the questions truthfully, but also listen to the questions and be sure you understand them before you answer them.
Furthermore, use formal English, not casual English. For instance, when appropriate, respond with “Yes” or “No,” not “Yeah,” “Uh-huh,” or “Nah.” You may explain your answer. If you respond to a question by shaking your head up, down, or from side to side, the opposing lawyer will ask if you meant to say “Yes” or “No.” Speak up so that you can be heard. If you honestly do not know the answer or cannot remember, say so.
If you are a plaintiff or a defendant and your deposition is scheduled, do not go to it alone. Go with your lawyer; he or she is your ally. Remember: Before the deposition, prepare. If you have questions, contact Nashville Attorney Perry A. Craft.