Sunday, January 30, 2011

Testifying at Deposition (Part II)

 Deposition witnesses are often questioned about documents that are made exhibits during a deposition. In dealing with exhibits, it is important to take time and make sure to review the document completely before answering questions regarding it.  A common trick is to ask questions about a document without showing it to the witness.  Witnesses should ask to see and review any document prior to testifying about it.

Witnesses should answer the question that is asked and no more. It is human nature to want to help the questioner ask the right questions or to tell the questioner what the witness thinks they want to know.  But this causes problems in that expansive answers can lead to endless follow up questions and can lead the questioner to consider questions that were previously not thought of. 

Witnesses need to keep an even temperament during a deposition.  We’ve all said something out of anger that wasn’t meant.  Anger, annoyance, and other emotions can get in get in the way of considering and fully understanding questions.  Deep breaths and counting to 10 or similar measures can serve to break the rhythm and refocus the witness.  A sudden need to use the restroom in such circumstances can be the ultimate rescue.

Witnesses should avoid guessing or speculating.  A deposition is supposed to be an inquiry into facts known by the witness.  A guess or speculation might not be accurate.  It is completely acceptable for a witness to answer that they cannot recall the information needed to answer the question. 

Michigan Legal Intelligence is authored by W. Jay Brown, a Midland Michigan based civil litigation attorney. The foregoing is intended to be for general information purposes only and is not intended to be specific legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship between W. Jay Brown PLC and you. Individuals with legal issues are advised to consult an attorney of your own choosing for advice specific to your situation.

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