What is a Deposition?
A deposition is an official court proceeding usually connected to a lawsuit which has been filed. The general purposes of a deposition are to investigate and establish what a witness or party knows concerning the matter involved in the lawsuit and to preserve that information in a form which can be used later if the lawsuit goes to trial. Depositions can also be used for pretrial motions.
Although there is such a thing as a written deposition, this article will focus on oral depositions, which are more common.
A formal written notice stating the time and place of the deposition, among other things, must be given to the parties a reasonable time beforehand. In many cases, the deposition will take place at the office of one of the attorneys involved. At an oral deposition, the person who is to be questioned (the “deponent”) is placed under oath by an authorized officer. The deponent is then asked questions, usually by the attorneys for the parties to the suit. The questions and answers are recorded by a court reporter, by tape recorder or by videotape. A deposition can even be taken over the telephone.
Everything said at a deposition is recorded, including objections by the attorneys during the questioning. However, a decision on the objections can only be made by a judge.
A witness who is not a party to the suit may be forced to come to the deposition by subpoena, which is basically a court order compelling the person to attend.
In addition to the attorneys, the parties to the suit may attend the deposition, as well as their spouses. Other people may also attend the deposition, but if there is an objection, the court will decide whether these other people may attend.
Each side to the suit is given a chance to ask questions, including cross-examination questions. All of this questioning is to be done in the same way as if the witness were testifying at trial in a courtroom. If the deponent refuses for some reason to answer a question, a party may ask the court to enter an order compelling the witness to answer.
The transcript or recording of the deposition may then be used in court in the same lawsuit or, under certain conditions, in a completely different lawsuit. What was said in the deposition can come into evidence in the same lawsuit regardless of whether the witness is available to testify in person at the trial. At trial, either the transcript is read aloud in court or the electronic recording is played for the jury.
The main thing to keep in mind is that a deposition is a formal court proceeding, even though the deposition itself happens outside of the courthouse. Depositions are used in all types of cases, including personal injury claims. In almost every personal injury lawsuit that is not settled there will be at least one deposition. A person who has a personal injury claim and who is unfamiliar with depositions can harm his or her case at a deposition. If you are involved in a claim, it is important to seek the help of a qualified and experienced Austin Personal Injury Lawyer to attend any deposition on your behalf.
A Austin Personal Injury Lawyer will know the ins and outs of a deposition and how to deal with deposition situations. In addition to knowing what questions should be asked at a deposition, an attorney will know whether a question being asked is improper and whether you should even answer such a question. It is not advisable to attend a deposition without the help of qualified legal counsel.
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