Depositions can be made much simpler when attorneys have a standard checklist of questions that are asked at each and every depo. As a continuation of our Part I article on this subject, here are an additional four essential deposition questions plus two bonus ones:
“Tell me everything you did to get ready for this deposition including what documents you reviewed, places you visited and people you met with.” The witness’s answer can lead you down a new line of questioning and/or identify weak spots in their story.
“Which social networks do you use? What are your profile URLs?” For particular witnesses who are heavy social media users, delving into their personal online accounts can offer more information than any other source.
“How did you find your [attorney/doctor/chiropractor/therapist/expert]?” The answer to this question can uncover prior legal cases, litigation and previously existing health problems.
“Do you have your driver’s license with you? Please present it.” Write down or read the information or read it into the record.
These standard deposition questions are good to have locked and loaded and should be used at each and every deposition, but there are two other questions that should be added whenever you are looking for more information on a specific topic.
“Why?” This may sound counter to what most attorneys learned I law school, asking “why” is essential at the deposition stage of the litigation process. Since depositions are generally taken well before trial, you have plenty of time to counter, find out more and/or develop a new game plan for trial. Asking “why” can also reward you with some key information that can be used for your client’s benefit. The information gained may help your case, identify potential leading questions to use trial or even to get an insight into opposing counsel’s strategy for their case. if the explanation is not helpful then it’s likely that the opposing party will present the “why” during their case. This also provides an excellent opportunity to impeach the witness if he or she changes the story at trial. The exception to this rule is that you should not ask “why” in depositions that will be used in lieu of live testimony at trial.
“Is that all?” Asking this question will prevent witnesses from adding information to their answers later without facing the threat of impeachment. Ask this question anytime the witness gives an answer that you want to cap the explanation given, especially when the answer given is helpful to your case. The exception is in questions that witnesses gives an answer helpful to you but you think that asking “is that all” could potentially cause the witness to clarify his or her answer to your detriment.
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