In last week’s post we talked about the different methods of pretrial discovery used in a Minnesota divorce case. This week we will discuss one of these methods in more detail: the deposition.
A deposition is a procedure in which the opposing attorney asks a party or a witness a series of questions under oath. Depositions are typically conducted in a conference room at a lawyer’s office, not in a courtroom. There is no judge present to rule on objections or oversee the process.
The most important rule for a person giving a deposition is to tell the truth. This means more than just not telling a deliberate lie. It also means not guessing when you don’t know the answer to a question. If you honestly don’t know the answer, say you don’t know. It is alright to give an estimate, if you are asked for a numerical amount; just make sure you say it’s an estimate.
Be careful to answer only the question that is asked and don’t volunteer information that isn’t asked for. Keep your answers short, and don’t think out loud. Be wary of questions that ask you to agree with a statement. These questions often begin with a phrase like “Isn’t it true that …” or “Is it fair to say ….” If the statement isn’t 100 percent true, say so. And be prepared to say why it isn’t true, because that will be the next question.
Because every question and answer is being taken down verbatim by a court reporter, it is critical to speak clearly. If the question calls for a yes or no answer, say “yes” or “no”; don’t nod your head and don’t say “uh-huh” or “uh-uh.” This will help ensure the final transcript accurately reflects what you meant to say.
In many cases the deposition is one of the most important stages of a divorce action. Being prepared and keeping these guidelines in mind will make the whole procedure go much easier.
Source: Findlaw.com, “Guidelines for Giving Your Deposition,” accessed Nov. 27, 2016