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What is a deposition?

A deposition is another type of discovery that is used to gather information. It is when one party questions the other party or a witness outside of court, under oath, so that the parties know what that person will say at trial. The parties or their attorneys have the ability to ask questions of the person being deposed. Usually the person who requested the deposition will ask questions first. The attorney who represents the person being deposed might ask follow-up questions only to clear up any misunderstandings that may have come up during the initial questioning.

You, or your attorney, if you have one, can object to questions that are asked but the objections are usually only noted in the transcript. Usually, the person being deposed would still have to answer the question. The reason for objecting is that it preserves the objection so that a judge may be able to rule on it at a later date, as a result of a motion, at trial, or on appeal.

If you are testifying at a deposition, you should make sure to tell the truth and do not try to make up answers. If you cannot remember something, it is okay to say “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember.” After a deposition is completed, the transcriptionist, also called a court reporter, will produce a written copy of the deposition, which is called a transcript. You should look through the transcript to see if there are any errors and, if so, make sure to alert the other party or his/her lawyer. An error in the transcript occurs when the transcriptionist writes something down that you didn’t actually say. Transcriptionists are human and sometimes errors do occur – they may hear you wrong or mis-type an important word. If an error is not corrected, it might have major implications for a case. If the transcript has the wrong time, wrong date, or other wrong answer that is not corrected before trial, it could be used against you at trial. If someone has testified in a deposition and then he/she changes his/her testimony at trial, the attorney can use the deposition transcript to call into doubt the truthfulness of that person’s trial testimony.