A deposition is one of the strongest tools of a litigator. Very few cases go all the way to trial, most cases are fought in the deposition room. This article will discuss how to prepare if you're deposed in New York.
What is a deposition?
According to the New York State Bar Association, a deposition is a method of discovery in a civil lawsuit by which parties can obtain information by asking deponents questions. Depositions are used for trial testimony, admissions, impeachment at trial, refreshing recollection, learning new facts, confirming already known facts, assessing an oppositions demeanor and credibility, exploring issues, locking in facts, discovering a broad range of facts, and settlements.
While a deposition is commonly called an "EBT" or "Examination Before Trial" a deposition can also take place, by Court Order, during or even after a trial.
With such weight placed of depositions, it's critical that a deponent's litigator spend adequate time preparing their client for their deposition.
A deposition is conducted like a simple question and answer session, however, they can be anything but simple. When a party is notified of the deposition or they are served a subpoena, they must then appear at the examination.
What are some of the steps you should take to prepare if you're deposed in New York?
- An attorney will advise you to always tell the truth. A deponent will be sworn in under oath for the examination.
- Always take your time to listen to the questions you're being asked and consider your answers carefully. Don't worry if you're being slow to answer because you need to think it through.
- Depositions are recorded so make sure all your answers are verbal.
- If during at any time you don't understand a question or term, ask for clarification. Do not try to answer without full understanding of the question. If the litigator questioning you uses legal jargon you do not understand, don't hesitate to ask them to phrase the question another way.
- If you're asked a question related to a document, then ask to review that document and spend time going over it and familiarizing yourself with it. If you cannot see the document, do not try to answer questions about it without seeing it.
- Do not volunteer information. If you aren't asked a question do not add information.
- Do not offer information that is between you and your attorney unless your attorney advised you to do so beforehand.
- Don't be quick to agree with the litigator questioning you. Be careful to think about what statements or opinions they're offering and only agree if, after much though, those statements or opinions are true and or accurate.
- If at any point you don't know the answer to a question, don't be afraid to say you don't know. Don't guess.
Let your attorney know, if at any point during the deposition, that you need anything, whether it's a break, a clarification, or a few minutes to compose yourself. Always arrive at the deposition dressed professionally. Try to spend a fair amount of time preparing so that you can better and more calmly answer questions.