What Is A Deposition? How is It Used in a Maryland Court Case?
If you are involved in litigation, you may be required to participate in a deposition. In a deposition, an attorney asks you questions related to the matter being litigated. For example, if you filed an insurance claim regarding an automobile accident, the attorney for the insurance company may subpoena you for a deposition. During the deposition, the attorney asks you numerous questions related to the accident. However, the attorney may also ask you other questions such as whether you have been in a previous accident, do you have any medical conditions, and what you had for breakfast the morning of the accident. While some of the questions may seem odd, the attorney has some purpose for asking the questions. Your attorney is with you during the deposition, but your attorney cannot answer questions for you nor give you advice on how to answer a question. Your attorney may object to questions that are abusive, unwarranted, or protected by attorney-client privilege. However, you are typically required to answer all the questions asked by the attorney. Depositions are Under Oath A court reporter records deposition to transcribe every word that is spoken during the deposition. Before you begin answering questions, the court reporter will place you under oath. Because you are under oath, your answers during a deposition can be used in court to impeach your testimony if you change your answers during the trial. It is very important that you answer each question honestly. You should not exaggerate or guess. If you do not know the answer to a question, it is best to tell the attorney you do not know the answer. In a few cases, an attorney may ask you to estimate when providing an answer. You should look to your attorney to determine if you should estimate with your answer or continue to state that you do not know for certain. What is the Purpose of a Deposition? The purpose of a deposition is to gather information about the other party’s case. Attorneys can evaluate witnesses before they appear in court to determine how a jury might respond to the witness. In additional, the answers to the questions in a deposition may raise addition matters or provide the attorney with another line of investigation to pursue. In some cases, an attorney may decide that it is better to settle the matter than to proceed to trial because the other party’s case is very strong, and the witnesses are convincing. In the case of expert witnesses, a deposition can help an attorney determine if the evidence and testimony of the expert witness will be compelling or convincing. The same applies to taking the deposition of an eyewitness. Preparation for a Deposition is Essential Your Maryland litigation attorney works with you to prepare you for the deposition. In some cases, your attorney may discuss the types of questions the other attorney may ask and the best way to respond to those questions. Your attorney also helps you prepare for a deposition mentally and emotionally. An opposing attorney may attempt to make you angry or upset to gauge how you will react in court or to encourage you to provide additional information. Some of the things that your attorney may review with you before a deposition include:
- Do not provide additional information. If a question requires a yes or no answer, that is the only answer you should provide. Some attorneys attempt to gain more information by asking open-ended questions. Your job is to provide accurate, honest, and direct answers. Provide a brief answer and avoid providing information that was not requested.
- If you do not understand a question, ask the attorney to rephrase the question. You should never answer a question that you do not understand. Assuming anything could result in an answer that can be misconstrued.
- Dress appropriately for the deposition. You are not required to wear a suit or dress clothes, but you do need to dress as you would if you were appearing in court. Impressions are especially important, and attorneys use depositions to determine how a jury may respond to a witness.
- Do not allow the attorney to make you angry or upset. If you become upset or angry, you may provide more information than necessary.
- Listen carefully to each question. You are not being timed. Therefore, listen to the questions and think about your response before speaking.