Attorney, Cordell & Cordell
What you do at your deposition can help or hurt you significantly depending on your attitude, truthfulness and appearance.
Remember from my previous article on depositions and lies, a deposition is the testimony of a witness under oath outside of court and reduced to writing. It is also used to question the opposing party.
Consider the following tips as you prepare for your deposition:
1. Dress and act as if you were going to court. Be clean, neat and businesslike.
2. Treat all people at the deposition with respect.
3. Avoid being overly friendly, losing your temper, joking or arguing.
4. Take your time before answering a question. Give yourself ample time to understand the question so that you can give a proper and truthful answer.
5. Instead of shaking your head or shrugging your shoulders, make sure you answer all questions aloud and clearly so the court reporter can record your answers.
6. Answer a question directly and as concisely as possible. There is no need to volunteer any more information than requested.
7. If you do not understand a question, say so. Never guess what a question means or where the opposing attorney is “trying to go” with a question.
8. When answering a question, stick to the facts and testify only to what you personally know. You should never guess what you think the answer is or should be.
9. If you do not know the answer to a question, say so. You are not expected to have an answer to every question or to know all the facts yourself.
10. Always tell the truth, even if you feel the answer is embarrassing or will harm your case. If you anticipate such questions, tell your attorney beforehand.
Be sure to address any questions, comments or concerns about your deposition with your attorney. Your attorney works for you and while he or she cannot “coach” you with canned answers, your lawyer should be able to help you prepare mentally and avoid needless worrying.
Jennifer M. Paine is an Associate Attorney in the Detroit, Michigan office of Cordell & Cordell. She is licensed to practice in Michigan, and has been admitted pro hac vice in Illinois, Ohio, and the United States Court of Federal Claims.
Ms. Paine received her BA in English and Mathematics from Albion College and graduated Summa Cum Laude. She received her Juris Doctorate from MSU College of Law and graduated Summa Cum Laude.