During the course of civil proceedings, usually a lawsuit involving people or corporations represented by people, it may be necessary for the lawyers involved to take depositions. A deposition is basically a statement under oath, taken down in writing, to be used in court in place of the spoken testimony from a witness. The witness can either be a party to the lawsuit, that is, a defendant or plaintiff, or a non-party fact witness. All parties to lawsuits are essentially fact witnesses.
If you have been given a notice that your deposition is going to be taken, it is helpful to understand the following things:
1. Who is taking your deposition? If you are a party, it is likely to be the other side that wants to ask you some questions.
2. When is the deposition? This is important not only because of scheduling, but also you need a reasonable time to prepare for your deposition.
3. Where is the deposition? Make sure that you map in advance where the deposition is taking place. It is helpful to not have the anxiety of being lost and arriving late to your deposition.
4. What is the deposition about? If you are fact witness, not a party, you need to call the lawyer that issued the notice and ask them what they want to know from you. Or, if you recognize a party on the deposition notice, contact them and see what is going on.
5. Decide if you need a lawyer. Even if you are not a party to the lawsuit and just a fact witness, you may need to consult a lawyer about the issues that may come up during the deposition. At minimum, you need to at least understand how the actual process works. We will cover that in another posting, or you can search our blogs and find out the process generally. But there is no substitute for consulting with an experienced lawyer who can guide you through the process and attend the deposition if you want to “lawyer up” yourself.