Depositions are an important part of the legal process. A deposition is testimony taken under oath that is taken outside of a courtroom for discovery purposes. Depositions can be used to gather information about a case and the testimony gained during a deposition may be admissible in court during litigation. Depositions are allowed in state and federal cases. The federal rules for depositions are found in Rule 30 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
What to Know Before Your Deposition
There are several important things to know before you are deposed including:
- You are Entitled to Notice: if you are represented by counsel then adequate written notice will be provided to your attorney. If you are unwilling to testify then you may be served with a subpoena compelling your compliance with the deposition request. Notice must be provided to all other parties to the lawsuit and include the name of the person to be deposed and the time and location of the deposition.
- You will be Testifying Under Oath: that means that you may be tried for perjury if your testimony is not truthful about a material matter of the case.
- You have the Right to be Represented by an Attorney: during your deposition.
What to Expect When You Enter a Deposition
Depositions are typically conducted in a conference room or other meeting place and not inside the courtroom. You should expect that, at a minimum, an attorney for each party to the case and a person authorized to take oaths who is known for deposition purposes as an officer. Your testimony will be recorded and often transcribed.
Your deposition will start with the officer stating for the record the officer’s name and business address and the date, time and location of the deposition. Then the officer will ask you to take an oath, similar to the one that you take when testifying in court, to ensure that your testimony is truthful. The officer will also identify everyone in the room during the deposition.
After those preliminary matters have been satisfied, the party who requested the deposition will start asking you questions. Your attorney, or an attorney for another party to the lawsuit, has the right to make an objection to any questions asked of you. Generally, you will be required to answer the question despite the objection but your answer may be inadmissible in court if a judge finds the objection to be valid.
At the completion of the deposition, the officer will note the official end time of the deposition for the record. The federal rules limit each deposition to one seven hour day. The party taking the deposition must petition the court if more time is needed for the deposition.
Once the deposition transcript is complete, you will have thirty days to review and to make any necessary changes.
If you have received notice of a deposition then it is important to consult with your attorney prior to the day of the deposition. Your attorney will help you prepare for the deposition and explain in more detail how depositions work.