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Did you receive a subpoena for a deposition?

If you are involved in a legal dispute with an employee, client or business associate, you may already be feeling a little overwhelmed, whether you are the plaintiff or the defendant, especially if you have recently received a subpoena to appear for a deposition. A deposition is a critical part of litigation, and understanding its purpose and process may help you approach your role calmly and confidently.

There are very few surprises in the courtroom during a lawsuit. The attorneys almost always know the answers to the questions they will ask of a witness. That is because they have already gathered information during the discovery phase. The discovery phase is the critical sharing of information between the two parties. By law, both sides must turn over all documentation and other evidence related to the case so the other side knows how to build a strategy. Another important part of discovery is the deposition.

How to behave

If you receive a subpoena to give a deposition, you must appear at the time and place the attorneys agree upon, typically a conference room in the offices of one of the attorneys. There, the attorneys for both sides will ask you questions about your knowledge of the issues contested in the lawsuit. You are under oath, but no judge or jury is present.

It is probably a good idea to review the facts of the case so you are able to answer the questions intelligently. You may want to write some notes that you can have with you during the questioning. These tips may be helpful before and during the deposition:

  • Dress neatly and professionally.
  • Listen carefully to the questions, do not be afraid to ask for clarification if you do not understand and take your time before answering.
  • Tell the truth because a clerk will probably record your deposition.
  • Respond plainly and respectfully, but if you don't know the answer to a question, do not guess.
  • Do not volunteer answers beyond the question or allow yourself to ramble when a simple yes or no will do.

You have the right to speak with a lawyer beforehand if you are concerned about the information the attorneys may ask you to reveal. You also have the right to stop the deposition at any time if you feel you need legal counsel. Having legal counsel may help you prepare for your deposition as well as for any testimony you may have to give in court.

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Chodos & Associates
1880 Century Park East
Suite 615
Los Angeles, CA 90067

Toll Free: 866-986-7255
Phone: 310-598-3405
Fax: 310-203-3866
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