We know that you have the experience and knowledge to handle any deposition, but you need to remember that this is the first time your client or witness has been in a deposition. There is quite a bit of stress on them, and as the attorney, it is part of your job to guide them and work with them throughout the deposition process. Our deposition court reporters have years of experience, so we know some common mistakes that witnesses make during the depositions and what their lawyers can do to make sure that they are prepared.
Discuss Their Concerns
Before the deposition, make sure you schedule an appointment with your witness. This appointment should be your client or witness' chance to discuss their concerns and any questions they may have about the deposition process. You need to talk about what will be asked during the deposition and how to be prepared for these topics. You could also utilize this time to coach your client on the best ways to answer some of the questions they will likely be asked.
Here are some tips that they need to be reminded of:
1. Only Answer What's Being Asked
So many times a witness answers a question above and beyond what an attorney asks. We understand; they are human and want to be helpful. However, sometimes their added responses raise additional concerns. Remind them that it's okay to give short answers. If a yes or no will suffice, only answer yes or no.
2. Do Not Guess an Answer
If your witness does not know the answer to a question being asked, they should not guess an answer to it. When they are asked a question that they cannot answer, or they do not know how to answer it they should simply answer, "I don't know". They should not speculate, and the attorney's asking the questions should not be placing them in a situation where they are speculating.
3. Answer Truthfully
When a witness is in a deposition, they are under oath. They are required to give the whole truth and nothing but the truth. While perjury is rare in a deposition, it is still possible. Your witness shouldn't ever willingly answer untruthfully during a deposition.
Tips to Prepare Before a Deposition
Right before the deposition, there are other things that your witness needs to do to feel calm and confident. A deposition requires thought and concentration before their case. They need to avoid any drinking or drugs the night before the deposition so that they can concentrate during the deposition. Recommend that they get a good night’s sleep the night before their deposition. Your witness needs to be dressed professionally as if they were testifying in court. Your opposition is trying to analyze your witness, so the better the impression your witness gives, the more difficult it will be for your opposition.
Our deposition court reporters have done transcripts for a number of depositions, and we have seen witnesses that have given excellent, helpful testimonies for their lawyers, and there have been others that were completely unprepared. As their lawyer, you need to everything that you can to make sure that your witness is ready.