In the abstract, testifying in a deposition setting is simple. You pledge to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth; basically meaning that you promise not to lie or distort the truth. Also, there is no courtroom full of people or a group of jurors staring at you and hanging on your every word.
However, there is a certain irony in testifying in depositions because the attorney asking you questions is attempting to project a version of the truth that fits their client’s best interests.
Because of this, witness preparation is an integral part of trial preparation, and this post will highlight a few things that potential witnesses should be prepared for before they testify in a deposition.
Focus on easily remembered facts – As we alluded to earlier, attorneys may try to project a version of the truth by asking questions that allow them to take advantage of hazy memories. Because of this, it is important to build your testimony around easily remembered facts that cannot be manipulated.
Don’t take the bait – It is not uncommon for attorneys to be combative or manipulative in depositions. So if you see that an attorney is goading you into anger or pressuring you so that you become emotional, do not fall for this act. An emotional witness is more likely to misremember or forget important facts that can make or break a case.
Beware of “list” questions – When an attorney calls for “all of the times you came to work” or “everything you did last Sunday” these are proverbial “list” questions asking for a detailed accounting directly from memory. These questions are especially tricky because if you omit an item from a list, the attorney may call into question your memory,
If you have additional questions about witness preparation, an experienced lawyer can advise you.