Crime drama shows would have you believe that surprise witnesses can be called whose testimony rocks the very foundation of the courtroom. In reality, the deposition procedure prevents this from happening. The deposing of a witness is part of the discovery phase, and it takes place when an individual who will eventually testify is interviewed under oath but before trial. You can learn about depositions here if you are truly unsure on the matter and looking for valuable knowledge on how they work.
The deposition occurs after the filing of a summons and it serves several purposes. The primary purpose of a deposition is to find out what the witness knows. Every piece of evidence to be presented should be known prior to the trial’s beginning, and this includes witness statements. And although depositions are considered hearsay and inadmissible in a trial, their second purpose is to preserve testimony.
Collecting depositions is an integral part of any trial. This is why legal professionals should fully understand every step in the deposition process.
Swearing in the Witness
The deposition procedure begins with swearing in the witness. This must be done prior to taking any testimony or the information provided, even if witnessed by the court reporter, will be useless. Once the individual is under oath, it’s important to ask their name and address so that information is on the record. It’s worth noting that the swearing in of a witness and the entire deposition procedure can be performed over the phone or even internationally if necessary.
There are also a few things that should be explained to the witness at this point. First, ensure they know they’re under oath. Second, let them know that it will be assumed that they understand a question if they answer it. Finally, it’s important that they know it’s okay to ask for clarification if they don’t understand a question. This will make it difficult for them to claim ignorance if they later change their story at trial.
Examination by an Attorney
Once a witness is sworn in, the examination by an attorney begins. This is much like the courtroom process, but there are a few very distinct differences. To start, there is no judge present. What this means is that an attorney can ask a variety of questions that may later be ruled inadmissible. Since there’s no judge present, however, the witness usually has to answer all questions posited to him.
Another glaring difference is that, although a deponent can have their attorney present, the legal professional has less clout than they would in the courtroom. This is to be expected since