To help put you at ease and at the same time inform you, we want you to read the following carefully so that you will have a clear understanding of what to expect. We will discuss and thoroughly prepare you for your deposition. The following information is merely a guide that applies generally to all cases.
A deposition is merely a series of answers that you will give to questions asked by the opposing attorney. You and an attorney from this firm will go to the court reporter’s office or some other mutually agreed upon office and answer these questions in front of a court reporter. You will be placed under oath by the court reporter. Your attorney will be present throughout the entire procedure. This will not take place in a courtroom and neither a judge nor a jury will be present.
There is no way of telling how long the deposition will last, since this depends on how complicated your case might be. Generally, it will be scheduled for a specific amount of time.
The opposing attorney is interested in finding out many things about you and the facts of your case. You should make a complete, honest and frank disclosure of anything you are asked, but do not volunteer any information you are not asked. Every question should be answered without any unnecessary explanations and as briefly as possible. Simple “Yes, sir” and “No, ma’am” answers are preferred. If the deposition goes along the usual course, your attorney will not ask you any questions at the end of the deposition. You should adopt the attitude during your testimony that you are telling the absolute truth and not feel that any explanation is needed in order for anyone to believe your testimony. Merely state a truthful answer and do not try to convince anyone as to why it may be a logical answer. It is only natural to feel somewhat defensive in going through these proceedings, but the deposition is not a place for you to explain your position.
Whatever you say will be transcribed by the court reporter and may be filed in your case. If transcribed, we will receive a copy of the questions and answers and these will be available for you to read at a later date. The opposing attorney will also receive a copy of these questions and answers. If appropriate, opposing counsel will be able to confront you with your prior testimony at any subsequent hearing or trial.
One of the things that the opposing attorney will discover during the deposition concerns your personality and appearance. Your dress and appearance should be neat, clean and conservative in style. We want you to be extremely polite during the deposition and treat the other attorney with respect and courtesy, regardless of the opposing attorney’s attitude or treatment of you. However, do not hesitate to disagree and remain firm in your version of things, even if the attorney on the other side is suggesting a different version to you or because he or she may repeat a question. Do not try and make friends with the opposing attorney. They may be friendly to you but their loyalty lies with your spouse.
Make absolutely sure that a question is completely finished before you give your answer. Take all of the time that is necessary to completely understand the question before you give your answer. Do not ever be embarrassed to say that you do not understand a question and/or a particular word in a question. Also be careful that you do not say “yes” or “no” to a double-barreled question that may contain two different questions. Do not try to guess whether an answer will help or hurt your lawsuit. Tell the truth as best you can and leave it to others to judge the result.
You may be asked if you have ever been convicted of a crime and about your personal life in general. None of us have lived a perfect life and if you have any skeletons in your closet, please make sure you discuss it with us before the deposition. Any other matters concerning prior divorces or personal problems should be discussed with your attorney because you will be required to give answers in this regard. Anything that you say to your attorney is absolutely confidential and privileged and we cannot and will not repeat it. We must know the full picture, however, so that we can adequately represent you.
You will be asked in great detail about different facets of your marriage. A general question might be asked of you, and in response to this, you should give an answer that is truthful, but brief. Remember that you are under oath and every word you say will become part of the permanent file that can be used either for you or against you. Therefore, if you can tell your story in fewer words, there will be less trouble. Never forget that if you truly do not know the answer to a question, the only truthful answer is, “I don’t know.”
There may be a privilege that exists between you and your psychologist, psychiatrist, or mental health counselor. However, in some cases, you may be asked about mental health counselors. It is not necessary that you remember the date of every visit or the amount of every bill. Usually, the doctor tells the patient very little about the diagnosis and even less about what the future holds. Tell what you know of your own knowledge, but do not guess about opinions of your doctors. You will be asked what your condition is today and what your complaints are. Do not downplay or minimize this aspect of your case. Be honest.
In summary, the following are the rules that you should observe:
It is our goal to make your deposition a positive component of your case. Preparation is the key to that result.
We hope this information will orient you briefly to the legal procedures of the deposition and thereby put you at ease as much as possible. Your attorney will personally review with you all of these and other matters of your particular case prior to the deposition date.