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Depositions 101



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If you’ve been asked to appear at a law office in order to give a deposition, you may not understand exactly what the lawyers or court are asking of you. The law can be a difficult thing to understand, with a great many large words that are difficult to understand and convoluted language that is difficult for even an English major to comprehend. Don’t worry: a deposition is nothing that will be painful and you do not have to have a great deal of legal knowledge in order to be able to give one.

What Is a Deposition?

A deposition is, by legal definition, when you give a testimony about something you have seen or know that pertains to a specific court case. Depositions are always taken away from a court and are used as a way for the lawyers to figure out how to win their case. If, for instance, you saw a co-worker get injured on the job, you may be asked to give a deposition about the scene that you saw. If you have information that the lawyers would like to hear, they will subpoena you and you will be asked to appear in a specific place at a certain time.

The Process

When you arrive at the destination, there should be one or more lawyers as well as a court reporter. The reporter is there in order to make sure that all of the information is recorded accurately so that the lawyers can decide if what you know is something that would help their case. The court reporter may document everything using shorthand on a stenograph, or they may use a video or an audio recording. Before anything begins, you will be asked to repeat the oath that the court reporter will give you, verifying that you are telling only the truth about the situation or knowledge that you are privy to.

Once you have repeated the oath, the lawyer (or lawyers) will then ask you questions. .They may begin by asking simple questions, such as what your name, birth date, and place of employment are. You will be required to answer any questions with a verbal “yes” or “no”. Once you have been asked questions by one lawyer, you may be cross-examined by the lawyer for the opposing side, as they have the legal right to ask you questions about the situation you witnessed.

This sparring back and forth can go on for quite awhile, and depending on what type of things you know or how difficult the case is shaping up to be, you may be interviewed for quite awhile. The point of a deposition is to make sure that all of the information that you have is recorded, as a trial may be months or years away and it is vital that the information is recorded when the experience is still fresh in your mind. As long as you answer the summons to appear for questioning, you will have done your duty in the eyes of the law.

 



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