Ten Tips on Deposition Attitude

“Trial” lawyers take more depositions than they direct and cross examine witnesses because most cases settle, particularly when you have done your job in preparation. Lawyers do this all the time, but the witness doesn’t,  so we lawyers need to remember that a witness may be very anxious.

I always tell my client, you are not going to convince the other side that you are right and they are wrong. Don’t even try. Just tell them what you know. No matter, there are going to be some witnesses who get angry, frustrated, or even hostile.
If you haven’t seen the “old lawyer fight” video, it’s worth watching to remind yourself of what NOT to do. Check it out on YouTube. I prefer not to post here because some of the language, but if you want me to send it to you, send a request to perkins@perkinsfirm.com.

Now, let’s talk about attitude. The following are a few ideas on keeping the right attitude in a deposition:
1 Tell the truth. No matter how painful, scary, or awkward it may be, tell the truth. Your attorney can deal with anything, as long as it’s your truth.
2 Trust your attorney. Your attorney knows the case better than anyone. Follow his/herguidance, not Court TV’s, your family’s or your best friend’s advice.
3 Be sincere. Sincerity wins every time so eave your sarcasm, joking around, ‘whatever’ attitudes, coyness, seductiveness or cuteness at home.
4 Be straightforward. Don’t be evasive or beat around the bush. Stick to the facts as you know them as closely as possible.
5 Be accurate. Tell it like it is. Resist the temptation to over-state your case, dramatize, or otherwise embellish it.
6 Realize you’re in charge. When you’re being bombarded with questions, remember –you’re in charge of your response so you can pause and think about it. Answer when you’re ready, but don’t be flippant about it.
7 Be courteous and polite to everyone involved: Judge, bailiff, clerks, opposing council,security personnel, jurors. Show respect at all times. Legal proceedings are formal proceedings, even when they seem informal. Everything is recorded and will be used against you if it serves opposing counsel.

8 Always answer and behave as if Judge and jury were present.

9 Be patient. Real depositions and court proceedings, unlike TV, are often monotonous. Understand the seriousness of what is at stake and be patient.

10 Refrain from using vulgarity or crude expressions. Many jurors are uncomfortable with vulgarity. Don’t alienate jurors needlessly.
Next week, I will share some ideas on appearance at the deposition. In the meantime, if you have some additional ideas, please post them here. Also, I would like to read your comments on this or any other topic.

As always, if there is anything I can do for you in North Louisiana or Northeast Texas, please don’t hesitate to call day or night. For more information about the firm, visit our website at www.perkinsfirm.com.
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