“The answers given at a deposition are legal testimony and, in essence, no different from testifying in court,” said Andrew Fleming. But even though a deposition may seem less formal than a trial, it is a critical part of a lawsuit, Mr. Fleming explained in a recent interview with Smart Business Chicago magazine. The resulting article appears in the July 2012 issue of the journal for senior managers at local companies. PDF. The article also appears at Smart Business Online.
Mr. Fleming outlined the key rules for preparing witnesses for depositions. First, the witness must understand that every question must be answered truthfully. The witness must listen carefully to every question and answer only what is asked. The witness should never guess at an answer.
Common mistakes include losing concentration and guessing at answers. When a witness is shown a document, the witness should carefully read, not merely skim, it. Skimming may result in inaccurate testimony. The examining attorney may then exploit the error by getting the witness to agree to a particular “spin” that is unfavorable to the witness.
“In addition, a witness should never let the examining lawyer put words in his mouth,” Mr. Fleming explained. Be alert when asked typical cross-examination questions because those are invariably designed to get the witness to agree with the examining lawyer’s view of the case.” Such questions usually begin with phrases such as, “Isn’t it fair to say?” Or, “Wouldn’t you agree that?” Above all, Mr. Fleming advised, the witness should “maintain a calm and professional demeanor at the deposition, no matter how the examining lawyer behaves.”
For more information about preparing for depositions, please contact Mr. Fleming at (312) 419-6900 or firstname.lastname@example.org/.