What is a Deposition?

I have heard people mention the term “deposition.” What exactly is a deposition and what is the significance?

A deposition could be defined as out-of-court testimony that is later reduced to writing and may be used for court or discovery purposes.

To clarify this definition, a deposition usually involves a situation where one party in a litigation matter seeks to depose a witness or other party. This witness or other party can then be asked questions under oath. The person answering the questions is called the deponent.

Typically, attorneys representing the parties involved in the case ask the questions. A court reporter is present and records all the testimony so the questions and answers can be placed into a written format.

Parties, usually through their attorneys, may object to the questions being asked.

Parties may also record depositions through video or tape recorders.

Based on the nature of the deposition notice, the deponent may be required to bring certain documents or potential evidence to the deposition for examination by all present.

Depositions are a very valuable litigation tool. They aid in the discovery of information relevant to a case.

Additionally, parties may later use deposition transcripts for a variety of purposes. For instance, if the deponent later testifies at trial, the transcript may be used to “impeach” or contradict the individual’s testimony. In certain circumstances, the deposition transcript may actually be substituted in place of the live testimony of the deponent at trial. The deposition may also be used to bolster dispositive motions.

Regardless, a deposition is a valuable and ubiquitous concept in the world of a litigation attorney.