What is a Deposition?

On Behalf of Griswold LaSalle Cobb Dowd & Gin LLP

In a legal case, the more information that can be obtained, the better off the lawyer and client are before going into the courtroom. One tool at every attorneys’ disposal is the deposition.

A deposition involves asking a person questions about what they know about a case. This can range from a bystander who witnessed the event to an expert who will provide an opinion in the case. The person can be asked about what they saw or heard or about documents important to the case. Depositions can be an effective tool in evaluating not only the knowledge of the person but also their ability to testify in court. Knowing whether a witness will testify confidently assists the attorney in evaluating the overall strength of a case. At Griswold LaSalle, we recognize the value of deposing key individuals not only to gather the facts but also to find out how those persons may testify at trial, and is also why we may spend several hours to several days preparing our clients for their deposition.

Depositions typically take place in a lawyer’s office and everything the witness says is written down by a court reporter. Attorneys also sometimes video tape or audio record depositions. This can be useful if the witness may be unavailable at the time of trial or to study the person’s reactions to certain questions.

Depositions usually last between a few hours and a full day. In fact, other than some exceptions, a deposition in California can last no longer than seven hours. Witnesses, attorneys and the court reporter are permitted to take breaks during the deposition.

Importantly, the person being deposed will swear or affirm to tell the truth in exactly the same manner they would if they were testifying in court in front of a judge or jury. This is key in case the witness changes his or her story later on in the case. There are few techniques more effective than catching a witness changing his or her story in front of a judge and jury. The deposition is one of the best ways to pin down a person’s story prior to trial.

An experienced attorney can make or break a case at a deposition. At Griswold LaSalle, our attorneys understand the importance of taking effective depositions early on in a case to effectively resolve cases in favor of our clients. ​

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