As a lawyer, you want to ensure that your video depositions are not only clear and concise but also professional enough to be seen by the court. After all, a deposition is only helpful if the judge and jury can understand and follow what is being said. If the video shows unprofessionalism or bickering, or the audio is just too hard to make out, it will not only be useless to your case but it may even be a hindrance—the court will be less inclined to take you seriously. In other words, a good deposition can keep a case afloat but a poorly maintained deposition can outright sink it.
Questioning Faux Pas to Avoid to Keep Your Deposition Professional
To keep your deposition and case from capsizing, you need to avoid certain actions that may cause waves. By avoiding the following, you can keep your deposition running smoothly and professionally, without the worry of alienating the court or jury during playback.
- Condescension. Lawyers need to be confident and well-organized during all parts of a case from start to finish. Unfortunately, this confidence can give attorneys a bad rap for acting superior or all-knowing during depositions and trials. As a result, witnesses may feel as though you’re patronizing them on purpose to make them feel stupid or guilty. Although by no means should you cater to a witness’ every whim or “dumb-down” your questions to make him feel superior, you need to find a gentle balance in order to prevent the witness from lashing out while also coaxing the information you need out of him.
- Belittlement. Along with condescension, it is easy for witnesses to feel that their testimonies are being belittled. Now, although the opposing counsel may question your witness’ testimony in order to discredit the information, as your witness you need to encourage him to give the most information possible—not criticize him into silence.
- Argumentation. Emotions can easily run high throughout even the most minor of cases. However, no matter how frustrating a situation becomes, you can’t allow yourself to take that frustration out on witnesses or opposing counsel—especially not on tape. If the judge or jury sees you arguing with your own witness or acting unprofessionally with a fellow attorney, your credibility will quickly come into question. No matter how irritating an answer or testimony may be, you need to stay calm and take control of the situation, rather than get caught up in a petty argument.