What is a deposition, and what are they for?
In a civil lawsuit, any party to the lawsuit can require that a witness or other party submit to an out-of-court examination, under oath, before a court reporter. This is known as a deposition. Similar to testifying in court, the person being deposed (the deponent) is asked questions by the lawyers to gain information to be used at trial of the matter. The difference is that a deposition takes place outside of the courtroom, often many months before trial.
There are four primary ways that deposition testimony is used:
1. Evidence at trial– If a witness is unavailable or unable to testify at trial, a transcript of the testimony can be read during the trial for the judge or jury. The judge and juror may consider the deposition testimony in the same manner as if the witness testified live a trial.
2. Discovery– A deposition may be used to discover facts which the deponent may know, or to learn other facts that may lead to the discovery of other important evidence.
3. Impeachment of a Witness– Deposition testimony can be used to damage a person’s credibility when their deposition testimony differs from previous statements or from their testimony at trial. A lawyer is permitted to show these variations in testimony to the jury at trial, in an attempt to make the witness less believable.
4. Review of a Witness– A deposition can also be a “try-out” for a witness, letting the lawyers participating in the deposition see what kind of witness the deponent would make a trial by evaluating the deponent’s candor, honesty, and responsiveness in responding to the lawyers’ questions.
The information contained in this blog post is general information, and should not be treated as legal advice. No attorney/client relationship exists between the reader and Lafferty, Gallagher & Scott, LLC without a signed Attorney Contract Agreement of Representation. Each case is unique and past results should not be treated as a guarantee of the results in your case.