Getting Your Story Straight Is Just One Goal in a D.C. Deposition
You’ve been told what to wear, how to act, and actions to avoid in order to prepare for your deposition. But now that you’ve got the basics down, you find yourself wondering: why do you need to go through a deposition at all? Wouldn’t it just be easier to stand in front of a judge and have him make the decision in your case?
What Is the Point of a Deposition?
The fact is that depositions are the most efficient way to gather fact in a case, allowing the judge to make a more informed decision and reducing the time that all parties spend in court. While that may be the overall point of a deposition, each person involved in the process will have different goals. The opposing counsel (the person who will be asking you questions) will aim to answer these questions at a deposition:
- What happened? An opposing attorney will want to know which facts you have in your possession, and which you will be able to present at trial.
- What is your story? Counsel will ask questions to establish your version of events, and may try to ask similar questions multiple times to make sure your story is consistent. Knowing each person’s version of events in advance will allow counsel to prepare questions during trial to find out what really happened.
- Is your story credible? After you sign your deposition, you are attesting that everything you said is true. If you use language that can be misinterpreted, opposing counsel may attempt to catch you in a lie to attack your credibility. If you are seen as untrustworthy, the jury may rule against you.
The assumption that a deposition is only a fact-finding mission is not necessarily true; it is every attorney’s job to do the best he can for his client. If opposing counsel can prompt you to give an emotional response to a question that will make his case stronger, he will likely do so. However, your attorney may do the same for the opposing client in order to protect your interests.
The number one goal you should have during a deposition is to remain calm. This will allow you to think carefully about your answers and give only the facts.