Every week I prepare clients for the taking of their depositions by the opposing attorney. Then, I sit with my clients as the opposing attorney questions my client for two or more hours under oath with a court reporter present. My stress level during my client’s deposition may actually be higher than my client’s. Why? Because I know how a loose tongue can undermine an entire case.
Michael Myers, a fellow blogger on InjuryBoard.com from Seattle, has posted a short article on this topic.
Depositions are typically the first “face to face” interaction between defense counsel and the injured person. Depositions are set by defense attorneys to obtain information about the case and to bolster their defense theories. Depositions provide an opportunity for the defense to elicit testimony that undermines the injured person’s case.
There is oftentimes a strong temptation for injured persons to want to “tell their story” to defense counsel. They feel like if the defense attorney only knew their side of the story and how the injuries have affected them the case would settle favorably. Unfortunately it just doesn’t work this way. The temptation must be resisted.
I totally agree with Mike. One of the things I emphasize during pre-deposition preparation is that a deposition is only a question and answer process. It is not an opportunity to place on the record an entire case in a convincing form. Nor is it the time to volunteer anything. If we are able to say at the end of the deposition that the client honestly and accurately answered the questions that were asked and did not volunteer anything, the deposition went well. I encourage yes or no answers where appropriate and, generally speaking, shorter rather than longer answers. Longer answers have a tendency to wander off into new subject areas for further questioning.