• It is very important that you make a good impression as a witness in a deposition because HOW you tell your story may be more important than what you say. Your goal is to convince your spouse’s lawyer that you will be a sympathetic, likable and credible witness in court. You may get a much better settlement offer if your spouse’s lawyer believes you will make a good impression at trial.
• It is crucial to be prepared for a deposition. One of the goals of deposition preparation is to make sure you and your lawyer are not surprised by any questions asked. Carefully review all Complaints, Answers, correspondence, Orders, Interrogatories, Requests for Production of Documents, Requests for Admissions and expert witness statements with your attorney. Pay particular attention to all documents personally signed under oath by you or your spouse.
• Always answer all questions truthfully. Every word you say during a deposition may be used against you at trial. You may feel that your story is difficult, embarrassing or humiliating, but you must always tell the truth under oath. If the judge thinks you are lying or hiding information, you will likely lose your case and damage your reputation. Lying is never acceptable in the eyes of the court. If you realize you made a mistake or one of your answers is inaccurate, correct your answer immediately.
• Never volunteer information you have not been asked. — even if you think it will help your case. Resist the temptation to educate your spouse and his/her lawyer about how strong you think your case is. Do not be tempted to educate your spouse’s lawyer about what you think they should know. Instead, make the lawyer ask for the information he or she wants. Listen carefully to each question, and do not try to answer until you fully understand the question. Think about the question before you begin to answer. Feel free to ask the attorney to repeat the question. If you do not understand what is being asked, say so. Never just blurt out an answer.
• Answer the exact question asked, keep your answers short and to the point. Never guess. Never speculate. Guessing is rarely accurate or truthful and can make you look deceptive. It is fine to say you do not know the answer to a question if that is the truth.
• If you have finished your answer, resist the temptation to continue talking if your spouse’s lawyer remains silent. Simply remain silent yourself. Do not get distracted by trying to figure out why your spouse’s lawyer asked a specific question or what the next question will be.
• Do not let your spouse’s lawyer anger you. Do not argue with your spouse’s attorney. Your lawyer will protect you from improper questioning. The opposing attorney may be fishing to see what sort of questions cause you to lash out in anger in order to use that information against you to manipulate your behavior in court.
• Never say anything or do anything during the deposition that would embarrass you if the judge read your testimony in court. Be on your best behavior. Do not answer in a sarcastic or derogatory manner. Never be rude or arrogant, curse or use inappropriate language, or yell or scream. Should you begin to lose control of your emotions, tell your lawyer you need to take a break. Angry and volatile witnesses make mistakes. A written transcript will be prepared of your deposition testimony. Always keep in mind how your deposition testimony will sound to the lawyers and the judge.
If you would like further information on preparing for a deposition our office is here to help.
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Ryan K McFarland • email@example.com • 1 (931) 516-9009