The Deposition

In this post I discuss the deposition from the perspective of my party/client as a witness and how a deposition is used at trial.

The Deposition. Evidence at trial is in two forms testimony and documents. The deposition allows a lawyer to discover what the witness will say at trial. Generally the most important witness in a personal injury case is the party plaintiff. The injured plaintiff is almost always deposed prior to trial.

Deposition of Plaintiff. Usually defense will send written questions (interrogatories) before taking plaintiff’s deposition. Time and thought need to go into the answers to interrogatories as the answers are plaintiff’s lines for the deposition. The key to a deposition is to tell the truth with power language in a direct way. Answer the interrogatories in this way to set up the deposition testimony. Eliminate modifiers and speak with nouns and verbs which translates strength.

The key to deposition and trial testimony is to be able to describe: how the injury occurred, where the injury is, what has been done to address the injury (following doctor’s advice and doing  own recovery program), strength and range of motion limitations, impact on employment and activities, and pain described without whining. Rarely show anger at defendant. As a rule do not show concern about personal property. Stick with the injuries and belief injuries will be overcome through dedication to recovery.

Defending Deposition. Let the defense lawyer ask his question unless objectionable at trial, if so, make the objection before the answer. Never let defense lawyer bully a witness. If this occurs ask court reporter to read back offensive line of questioning. Ask witness if questioning intimidated them. Ask court reporter to separately the improper section. Tell reporter you are ordering this section of deposition. Inform offensive lawyer this will be presented to trial judge at proper time.

Deposition at Trial. Plaintiff needs to read her deposition before trial. Some lawyers will have most if not all of their cross examination prepared from the deposition. There will rarely be a question not taken from the deposition so the answer stays the same from deposition to trial.

On the use of a deposition to impeach, impeach on big issues and misstatements.  Pass on the small stuff. Have significant testimony outlined before cross examination. When you have an impeachable statement do the following:

1.  Set the stage by asking the question that leads to the impeachable answer. After getting the answer, examine the witness on fact of deposition.  Occurred on,  occurred at, under oath, knew it could come back at trial.

2.  Move to publish deposition handing original to clerk.

3.  Hand original deposition to witness, and tell him to turn to page where answer is.

4. Position yourself so witness is facing jury. Tell witness line you are reading (at the line presenting fatal question). Instruct witness to read his answer.

5. Go to counsel table without saying anything as witness is facing jury. Buy 30 seconds to a minute. Come back to witness with different line of questioning.

You have correctly used a deposition.

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4 Responses to “The Deposition”

  1. Vance Beach says:

    Judge Carlsons of the Middle District of PA sanctioned two non-party witnesses for providing false and misleading deposition testimony. According to Judge Carlsons the witnesses lies were not revealed until errata sheets were submitted by defense counsel. Many lawyers will tell a deposition witness that they can review the transcript for any inaccuracies mistakes or typographical errors.

  2. Bradford Bimler says:

    Spot on with this write-up, I truly think this website needs much more consideration. I’ll be back to read more, thanks for that info.

  3. Ciara Suero says:

    Thanks you helped me alot, your blog is very informative.

  4. […] case is the party plaintiff. The injured plaintiff is almost always deposed prior to trial. … seattle personal injury attorney – Google Blog Search This entry was posted in Seattle Personal Injury Attorney and tagged Deposition, Lawyer, […]

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