Learn These Four Legal Terms (and What They Mean) Before the Day of Your Deposition
Your attorney has gone over the deposition process with you several times, and while you’re not exactly confident, you understand the basic concept of what’s going to happen. However, while you might know your responsibilities, you’re not quite sure about the legal terms that are used in the “ceremony” aspects of the deposition—and since you don’t know what they mean, how can you be sure they won’t affect the outcome of your case?
Here are a few common legal terms that will likely crop up during your testimony:
- Perjury. At the beginning of your deposition, you will be asked to raise your right hand and swear that the testimony you are about to give is true and accurate. You must take the oath very seriously, as any attempt to provide false or misleading information could be construed as perjury. Perjury, or intentionally giving false information under oath, is a crime punishable by fines and possible time in prison.
- Stipulations. Before you are asked any questions, you may hear the opposing attorneys discussing the ground rules for what will happen next. These are also called stipulations, and are in essence an agreement on what will (or will not) be done during the deposition. Some common (or “usual”) stipulations include agreeing to reserve all objections, except those used to rephrase questions or motions to strike testimony. Stipulations are usually created to make the deposition run smoothly and as quickly as possible, while still preserving an attorney’s right to have the objection ruled on by a judge before the trial. If the judge later rules that an objected question should not have been asked, both the question and response will stricken from the final version of the transcript.
- Objections. Even if the usual stipulations are in place, your attorney may still call out “objection” during your deposition in order to mark the question for review in the transcript. You should always ask your attorney after an objection whether you should or should not answer.
- Errata. A few days after the deposition, you will be sent a copy of your deposition transcript. You should read through all of the questions and your answers carefully to make sure all of the information is accurate and truthful. You will be sent a separate sheet of paper (called an errata sheet) where you should list any errors you detect, as well as what you believe the actual testimony to have been. For example, if your car accident took place on I-295 and the court reporter has written I-95, you should be sure to request the correction wherever it occurs. You must then sign and date the errata sheet and send it back to your attorney to be forwarded to the stenographer. If you have not completed your errata sheet within 30 days of receiving it, your testimony will be deemed accurate without your approval.