Depositions are NOT supervised by a Judge. The only participants are the parties, their lawyers and the court reporter. When it is your turn to be questioned, the opposing lawyers will ask you a series of questions. YOU SHOULD ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS TRUTHFULLY. The following additional instructions will help you feel more comfortable and better prepared.
Do not answer a question until you understand it. If the question is unclear, ask examining counsel to repeat it or to rephrase it in clearer language.
Think about each question before answering it. Take your time. Do not supply information not requested by the questions, even though you may think it is relevant. If examining counsel does not ask you all you know, do not volunteer information.
If you do not know the answer to a question, say “I don’t know.” Do not feel that just because a question is asked you are expected to know the answer to it.
Respond with factual information if you have firsthand knowledge of the facts. Do not base your answer upon so-called “hearsay” information, that is, something someone else said to you, unless you are specifically asked for hearsay information.
If asked, do not hide any previous injuries or accidents or any facts about which you are specifically asked, unless you are advised not to answer a question.
Be prepared to give specific examples about how the accident has affected you and your family.
If an objection is made by your lawyer, stop speaking. If you are advised or instructed not to answer the question, do not answer it.
Do not argue with opposing counsel. Remain calm. Never become angry or hostile. Avoid asking questions in your answers unless you are asking for a clarification of a question.
Do not memorize your answers. Give a factual straightforward response to the questions.
If a question of fact is asked, check it against any records you may have if you feel that it necessary, but answer it briefly.
Dress neatly and according to your usual habit and style.
Exercise courtesy and good manners.
Opposing counsel will be evaluating you constantly. From the very moment you appear, you will be under observation. You must, therefore, take great care in your appearance, manner and remarks at all times. There is no such thing as “off the record.”
If you are asked to look at a document, read it completely before you answer the question. Take your time. A hasty answer can hurt your case.
Do not look for traps in every question. There are not many trick questions, and if one comes along we may help you by making an objection. In trying to second guess each question, you will create the appearance of calculation, hesitation, apprehension, or possibly, simple stupidity.
Be polite. It is unlikely that you will be insulted or brow-beaten, but if this seems to be happening, resist any urge to meet it with similar tactics. Even if the lawyer on the other side is acting outrageously, it will help your case if you maintain an attitude of courtesy and calm.
Speak up so that all can hear you. Keep your hands away from your mouth. Answer each question with a verbal response. The court reporter transcribing your testimony cannot take down nods and shrugs.
Testify according to your best memory. If you are uncertain about the answer to a question, indicate this uncertainty in your response. If you have no memory whatsoever on a given point, say so. Do not guess.
Do not be afraid to admit that you have had conferences with your lawyer about the case. Every good lawyer has conferences with his client. If examining counsel asks you, “Did your lawyer tell you what to say at this deposition?”you should answer truthfully and state that we told you to tell the truth. Opposing counsel should not ask you about any conversations between us because these conversations are legally privileged and not subject to disclosure.
Unless we make an objection, you must assume that you are bound to answer the question if you know the answer.
You can be required to give a simple yes or no answer if you can answer the question that way but later you will have an opportunity to explain your answer if it needs explanation. If opposing counsel cuts you off in the middle of an important explanation, you should state that you have not finished your answer and request that you be allowed to finish your answer. If this request is denied, we can ask you to amplify your answer.
DO NOT show exasperation, boredom or fatigue, even though the questioning may be very extensive. We will protect you against unwarranted harassment. Let us know, however, if you feel ill or overly tired during the course of the examination. We can arrange for short break or, if necessary, the adjournment of the deposition until another day.