Resources to assist counsel with several key aspects of oral depositions in federal civil litigation. Specifically, this Toolkit offers resources related to noticing, preparing for, and taking and defending depositions of parties, non-parties, and experts.
Depositions ( www.practicallaw.com/8-519-7525) are valuable discovery ( www.practicallaw.com/8-107-6127) tools that can significantly influence the outcome of a case. For example, parties may use deposition testimony as evidence in support of (or in opposition to) a dispositive pre-trial motion or as leverage during settlement negotiations. Therefore, at the outset of discovery, the attorneys for both sides should carefully consider who to depose and the useful deposition testimony they may elicit from each witness.
Among other things, depositions offer the parties an opportunity to:
Gather previously unknown facts.
Receive unrehearsed responses to broad questions.
Explore the other party's theory of the case.
Nail down an expert’s opinions and establish the scope of his testimony.
Assess the deponent's credibility and effectiveness as a witness.
Given the high stakes for both sides and the diminishing number of cases that reach trial, attorneys must be thoroughly prepared to take and defend depositions. Deposition preparation includes:
Researching the relevant procedural rules and applicable law.
Understanding the generally-recognized rules of deposition etiquette.
For the deposing attorney:
properly noticing the deposition;
drafting the deposition outline; and
anticipating objections and privilege issues.
For the defending attorney:
effectively preparing the witness;
making permissible and appropriate objections at the deposition; and
knowing when to submit the deponent's errata sheet.