Have you been called as a deponent to a case? The first deposition can be intimidating and maybe even awkward. You’re not sure of the process and can feel like you’re being grilled. Take a deep breath. While you’re being asked questions, understand your role is to stay calm and answer honestly and to the best of your recollection. If you don’t understand what’s being asked or truly don’t know the answer, ask for clarification. Be honest if you don’t know the answer.
We’ve been part of more than a few depositions and offer these tips for first-time deponents.
Get your rest
A tired mind cannot process questions and relay facts accurately so be sure to get your rest in the days leading up to the deposition. Don’t vary your regular schedule too much. Take your regular supplements and medications, eat healthy, and exercise just as you would any other week. Review the facts of the case but don’t obsess about them or it could lead to restlessness and anxiety.
You’ve been called to a legal proceeding, not a cocktail party, so dress the part of a witness. No matter how big or small your role in the case, it’s important to look professional, clean cut, and dressed more like you’re going to church than a party with friends. This is especially true if it is a video deposition.
Unfortunately, there are cases where a witness is encouraged to not be truthful, exaggerate or leave out details, or outright lie when asked certain questions. We assure you there is great need for you to be honest. You’re under oath so if it is found out that you’ve been less than truthful, you could be held in contempt and that’s not where you want to be.
If you’re asked multiple questions at one time without the opportunity to answer or don’t understand what you’re being asked, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask for clarification. It’s better than answering a question that you weren’t asked or answering wrong because you thought you were being asked something else entirely. Avoid confusion and take your time answering questions.
While it can be intimidating as a first-time deponent, we encourage you to stay calm and do your best to answer questions. The more focused you can be, the better for the case.