A deposition is probably the most important tool for attorneys as they prepare to go to trial. In the time leading up to a trail, both the prosecution and the defense will gather their witnesses. Then, they conduct depositions for each witness before the trial begins. This is to avoid any surprises when the case finally does go to trial.
What Happens During a Deposition?
If you’ve ever seen a witness being questioned on the stand in court, then you have a basic idea of how depositions work. Depositions take place in an attorney’s office, where a witness is interviewed about the case. The lawyers will ask as many questions as they deem necessary. Just like a witness on the stand, the deponent (the witness) is under oath.
Who Is Present?
During a deposition, the deponent can have their own attorney present. Occasionally, the plaintiff and/or defendant can also be present. Unlike courtroom testimony, however, a judge is usually not present, except in certain cases.
What is the Purpose of a Deposition?
Depositions are conducted so that attorneys can determine what each witness knows and collect pertinent facts about the case. Attorneys do not want to deal with any surprises in court, so they need to learn what the witness will say ahead of time – especially if the testimony has the potential to hurt their case. If the witness says something in court that doesn’t match the deposition, the attorneys can use the deposition transcripts to impeach the witness. Depositions can also be used if a witness is unable to make it to court during a trial.