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Litigation Quick Take: Depositions - January 21, 2021

Joni L Ploeger


Q:  I have been notified to attend a deposition. What should I expect?

A:  A deposition is usually a live and in-person exchange of information between the person being questioned and a party’s attorney. Like so many other things, due to the pandemic, some depositions are currently virtual. 

The attorney will ask the deponent questions about their knowledge of matters relevant to the case. The opposing attorney will have an opportunity to ask questions as well. Depositions are less formal than trial testimony and take place outside of the courtroom. Generally, depositions take place in the attorney’s conference room and the only people present during a deposition are the parties, the parties’ attorneys, and a court reporter. The court reporter is there to record all the questions and answers, which will later be put into a transcript. Sometimes the deposition will also be video recorded if agreed to by the parties. 

While a deposition is less formal than trial testimony, the deponent is still making statements under oath, so it is very important to tell the truth. False statements made during a deposition can have both civil and criminal penalties. It also can provide a basis for later impeachment if you are called to testify at the trial. Thus, it is very important to review any relevant notes or documents before a deposition that would refresh your recollection of past and relevant events you are likely to be questioned about. If you are worried about providing deposition testimony or disagree with a subpoena requiring you to attend a deposition, you should consider consulting an attorney to attend the deposition with you to make necessary objections or to try and quash the subpoena as discussed in this post.  


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