A deposition is a testimony given outside of court. All 50 states allow depositions and they are used thoroughly in civil cases during the discovery phase to discover new facts and evidence. Witnesses are usually compelled to testify through a deposition by a properly served subpoena. A deposition is usually taken at the office of one of the attorneys representing one of the parties in the case; it also may occur at by court reporting or even in the office of an unaffiliated attorney. It could even take place in another state than the actual litigation if circumstances call for that. Thanks to advancements in modern technology, a deposition can be given through a video or live feed while attorneys watch in their respective locations.
Types of Depositions
- Discovery Depositions
A discovery deposition is spoken testimony of a witness under oath recorded by a court reporter for use later. The discovery deposition could be used to determine the credibility of a witness or the strength of their testimony. Prior testimony can also be used to dismiss an individual if their testimony is inconsistent in court. The jury is able to question the credibility of a witness or any inconsistent testimony.
- Evidence Depositions
A witness who is gravely ill can be allowed to be subpoenaed for an evidence deposition that will preserve their testimony. Often physicians are deponents in personal injury cases and their testimony can be provided in their office, clinic, or hospital so that they don’t have to cease operations at their practice. Usually, the testimony is recorded and played for the jury instead of the doctor being present in the courtroom. The doctor usually participates in a discovery deposition before the evidence deposition so the attorneys can see what they would testify in court.
- Records Depositions
A subpoena for a records deposition can be used to obtain medical and employment records. The records are gathered by the keeper of records and they are then photocopied and sent to the attorneys who requested them, then they are accompanied by a signed certification of a fully compiled set of records with the subpoena.
Scope of Discovery Deposition
A discovery deposition is supposed to be broad and generally discovery and records depositions are permitted if they’re relevant to a party’s claim or defense. A party is also able to seek a protective order from the court limiting the scope of a discovery deposition in case of alleged abuse of discovery. Cases can depend heavily on discovery depositions and discovery techniques. Often a well prepared case and the discovery phase can preclude the necessity of a trial. Sometimes a case will settle after a discovery deposition, so a good court reporter like is necessary to document your case. They could help you win.