The Dreaded Deposition
Part 2 Preparation
In part 1 of “the dreaded deposition” we discussed the purpose of the deposition. In this part 2 article we will share some suggestions for preparation.
As I suggested in my recent BLOG “the first thing to do when receiving a deposition notice” is to contact your attorney. Your attorney will share information with you regarding proper dress, attitude, and temperament. My advice is to be honest, nice and factual.
As an expert witness I believe it is necessary to have a conversation with your attorney and discuss the facts of the case. This conversation allows me to share my knowledge of technical terms and activities such as hydraulic formulas, firefighting strategy and tactics, fire and smoke travel etc. We also discuss my degree of expertise on the topic.
This is a good time to identify what type of questions will be asked during the deposition. In my experience the deposition usually starts out with “getting to know you questions.” Questions about your personal life, education, experience as an expert witness and knowledge of the main case concerns.
If your attorney knows the opposing attorney he/she can share what his/her style is when giving a deposition. It helps to be aware of the opposing attorneys’ temperament, special characteristics, quirks and demeanor. I have encountered both nice and nasty attorneys.
In my experience I have found the following suggestions will assist you to be successful during a deposition.
Relax: Some people have found it helpful when nervous to do a simple breathing exercise. Inhale in through your nose to the count of 4, hold your breath to the count of 4, exhale to the count of 4, hold your breath to the count of 4, and then start again. Emotional calm is important. It will allow you to be at your best.
Arrive early: Try to get to the building in plenty of time to find location inside the building where the deposition will be held. Do some light reading or review any notes you might have to get your mind warmed up.
No guessing: If you don’t know the answer to a question it’s OK to say “I don’t know.” If you don’t understand the question, ask for clarification.
Be Honest: Always tell the truth. Getting caught in a lie will destroy your credibility. This is a general truth in life also.
Pause after each question: This pause gives your attorney time to make an objection if needed. It also gives you time to digest the question and develop an appropriate answer.
In summary, try to relax when involved in a deposition. Have all you ducks in a row by being prepared. Preparedness involves knowing the facts of the case, knowing your scope of knowledge, involvement, or expertise. Listen, think about each question and pause before answering. Be honest.