Nearly 90% of lawsuits are settled before trial, and the face-to-face questioning sessions known as depositions are often pivotal to the outcome. Part of the discovery process, depositions are a powerful tool that both parties can and should use to understand the evidence available, discern details, and ultimately create a strategy for success.
The primary value of a deposition is to give each side a fair preview of the evidence. Learning all of the facts pretrial is crucial to avoiding surprises that could impact the outcome. Additionally, depositions are used to create support documents for future actions.
Depositions also serve to preserve witness testimony. If a witness is unable to appear in person during a trial as a result of death, serious illness, or location and travel restrictions, a deposition may serve as their official testimony.
In general, depositions allow for broader questions than would be permissible during a trial. A deposition can be a way to gain admissions from a witness or obtain testimony that is unfavorable to the opposing side. Getting a witness to commit to testimony is vital. Once the witness is committed to their testimony, counsel can prepare to impeach opposition with inconsistencies or contradictions.
Depositions offer the opportunity to evaluate a witness or other party’s understanding or awareness of issues in the case. It’s also a chance to take the measure of a witness: are they credible? Are there gaps in their knowledge? How do they present themselves?
Depositions are one of the primary methods of learning the strengths and weaknesses of a case. The integrity, presentation, and knowledge gaps of a witness can be used to determine their strength at trial. All answers provided during deposition questioning are transcribed and printed. Experienced counsel can use the written deposition to predict the likely outcome of a trial, and thus can make a determination on which witnesses to enlist, whether to settle, and for how much.
The Best Tool
All phases of discovery are important, but depositions provide the best tool for seasoned counsel to educate themselves about the facts of the case, evaluate witnesses, and plot the most effective strategy. Search for a witness, and buy a certified transcript copy of the deposition directly from the court reporter. Simple as that. Try it now.