A deposition is an oral discovery tool that can be done in person, by phone or commonly now by zoom. The deposition is all under oath just as if you were sitting in the witness stand during a trial. The big difference however is that the questions before a jury must be relevant
The questions during discovery depositions can be wide-reaching and are often referred to as a fishing expedition.
There doesn’t have to be a direct relevant meaning for a question to be asked or answered. The standard is much less during these informal proceedings. It must simply be able to lead to the discovery of relevant admissible evidence.
That is a very low standard and therefore almost every question that a lawyer asks of you during a deposition, even if objected to through form of a question, will usually asked to be answered. All the fights are really reserved until later as to whether or not that information in line of questioning can be used at trial.
I remember in a negligent security case I was asking the owner of the establishment who had recently placed it for sale how much he was looking for. The other attorney objected and said it was none of our business what he might be asking for. But it wasn’t listed and I wanted to understand because I had a theory. I did not have to reveal my theory. I simply said are you instructing him not to answer? The other lawyer relented and the owner told what he was looking for as the sales price. Now the fact did not support my theory because I was seeing if he might be trying to sell at a loss to get out of it because of the bad security situation. In fact, he was looking to make quite a bit more money on it in and ultimately did. So, my theory was not supported by the fact —but I had to understand what the fact was.
Ultimately, discovery depositions in a personal injury case usually start with what I call name, rank and serial number. Your personal history, marriage history, family history, educational history, vocational history, residence history, medical history, arrest, and criminal history, litigation history, and accident history. None of those may lead to anything important but defense lawyers are not going to not ask and then later be surprised.
Routinely I meet with clients before the deposition so that we can go over the procedures and make them feel comfortable. I want my clients to tell the truth.
It is a different process because of court reporters taking down everything you just said and speaking over each other, or not waiting for the question to be complete before you answer, can cause problems. Most of the time, my clients come away from it not thinking it was as bad as they feared. Ultimately when a defense attorney finds that you’re credible on all the things they can verify, they give you quite a bit more credit on the things that are harder to prove such as having a headache or a backache.
It’s been said that trials are all about credibility. And I don’t know if I would go that far but I would say it’s the foundation of everything that is done. If you do not believe the person is there in good faith, and or you don’t believe that the person tells the truth where you can verify, then you tend not to trust them much and the things you cannot verify. After all we all know the verse from the scripture “if you were unfaithful in the small things you’ll be unfaithful also in the large things “
Mr. Peel seeks justice for those injured in truck, motorcycle, and car crashes. He often addresses churches, clubs and groups without charge. Mr. Peel may be reached through PeelLawFirm.com wherein other articles may be accessed.