What is a Deposition?

Gavel

A deposition is an oral statement, given under oath, as part of the pretrial “discovery” process, which is the process by which the parties in a lawsuit gather facts and information about one another’s cases.  Attorneys use depositions to determine what a witness will be testifying to at trial.  This can be helpful to narrow the issues that need to be presented at trial and to find weaknesses in the opposing party’s case.

A deposition does not take place in a courtroom, but rather is typically held in a conference room in the office of one of the attorneys involved in the case or at a court reporting firm.  You can also request that the deposition take place in your office.  All of the attorneys involved in the case will participate in the deposition, although they may not all be physically present.  It is becoming more and more common for depositions to be conducted by telephone or videoconference.  Parties to litigation are also permitted to attend depositions.

Deposition testimony is provided in a question-and-answer format, with the attorney who noted your deposition having the opportunity to ask you questions first.  The other attorneys will also have the chance to ask follow up questions, but typically the first examination is the most comprehensive.   A court reporter will be present who will administer an oath at the beginning of the deposition, and will record your testimony.  A transcript of your sworn testimony will be prepared by the court reporter and, once it is completed, you will have an opportunity to review it and make necessary corrections.

While the scope of your deposition testimony is typically more expansive than the testimony you may be eventually called upon to give at a trial, the testimony taken during a deposition can be used at a trial.  Portions of your deposition may even be read aloud in court, especially if an opposing attorney is trying to show inconsistencies between your deposition and your testimony in court.  You are bound by the answers given at a deposition; therefore, preparation is key.                     

Angela Grau is a litigation attorney at Davis, Agnor, Rapaport & Skalny, LLC. For questions about this article or any other  law matters, please do not hesitate to contact Angela  at 410.995.5800 or agrau@darslaw.com