You’ve got an upcoming case and have called witnesses for depositions. Before assuming they know what is going to happen, find out if they are a first-time deponent. If they are, they need a bit of extra time in explaining what a deposition is, why they have been called, and what will happen at the proceeding.
What is a Deposition?
As a first-time deponent, your witness may be wondering what it even means to be called for a deposition and why they have been selected. First, let them know that while they will be under oath, they will not be appearing in front of a judge. They will be with you, their attorney if they’re being represented, a paralegal, and a court reporter.
A deposition is part of the discovery process. As a first-time deponent, they need to tell the facts as they remember them, answering only what is asked.
The last part is often tricky for new witnesses because they may want to offer more than what you’re asking.
Example: Were you at The Outlet Shops in Oklahoma City on the night in question?
The answer would be yes or no but a witness might be tempted to go into details and tell why they were there, what they saw, what they ate for dinner, and other stories that may or may not relate to the case. It can make for a long day of your witness keeps being long winded! To prevent that from happening, remind them to pay attention to what is being asked.
It’s okay to say they don’t know or don’t remember as long as that is the truth.
The point of the deposition is to record what the witness knows about the events in question. If they’re not sure, they should say so and not guess. Ultimately guessing could turn into opposing counsel making them out to be a liar or a witness who is not credible when in fact the details just aren’t clear or they simply don’t recall.
Dress like they’re going to court even though they aren’t.
Leave the jeans and t-shirts at home and opt for business casual or business attire. Closed toed clean shoes, dress pants, jacket, dress, skirt, blouse are acceptable options. This is especially important if it is a video deposition. How you look, whether a first-time deponent or experienced expert witness, will reflect on you.
We recommend preparing a sheet for first-time deponents and having a member of your legal team reach out to them prior to deposition. In doing so, you will save time and get the information you need from the witness.
In need of a court reporter for your next deposition? Contact Steno Services today!