In the fall 2010 issue of Trial Lawyer published by the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association, an article titled “Practice Makes Perfect” was included, written by Josh Shulman, a partner at Shulman DuBois LLC. The article detailed tips for carefully planning a successful deposition. Below is an overview of the advice in the article that was presented.
A deposition plays a crucial role in most Oregon cases. A deposition is out-of-court spoken testimony made by a witness that is typically written down for the purpose of being used later in court. This addresses how an attorney can carefully plan a successful deposition. This information also serves as a reference guide for the type of approach that injury victims may want to discuss with the attorney handling their case.
In a deposition, always seek the truth. Be sure to get statements from the defendant that offer them no escape. If statements don’t make sense, don’t challenge or question them; move on. But first be absolutely sure that the statements given are crystal clear and leave no doubt as to their meaning.
An attorney will study the details of a specific accident to determine the best questions to ask a person who is suspected of causing the accident, also known as the defendant. A defendant who makes statements in his or her deposition that don’t make sense provides an opportunity your attorney to prove your case at trial. It is your attorney’s job to ensure there is no escape route possible for the defendant, and that it is genuinely the defendant’s words that aren’t making sense, not the litigator’s idea of what they believe the defendant meant.
Good questions to lock a defendant in at a deposition include:
- Have you told me everything you know about X?
- Is there anyone you could talk with or any document you could look at that would allow you to tell me more about X?
- Is there anything you’ve forgotten to tell me about X?
- Is there anything you could do that would allow you to tell me more about X?
Your lawyer should also consider what he needs and wants the testifying witness to say at trial, as well as what you’re afraid they may say.
It is also good strategy to compile a checklist to guarantee nothing simple or obvious is forgotten. However this won’t necessarily ensure you will win the trial. In order to get the testimony that is really needed, the main points and specifics of a case must be thought through, and questions must be drafted for those exact facts. Listening to the person’s statements and following up on their answers is perhaps the most important thing a litigator can do during a deposition.
Please refer back to our blog for more information about personal injury trials. To learn more about our firm, call us at 1-502-222-4411. If you have any additional questions, we would be more than happy to help.