What is a Deposition in California?
The Deposition Process
At Brown & Charbonneau, LLP it is our goal to help educate our clients about the litigation process as much as
possible. This helps them prepare for them for each phase of the case, as well as arm them with valuable information to help them make better informed decisions. One such area is the deposition or sworn testimony under oath. For information on preparing for your deposition, click here.
- What is a deposition? A deposition is the taking of an oral statement of a witness under oath, before trial. Generally, it has two purposes: To find out what the witness knows, and to preserve that witness’ testimony. The intent is to allow the parties to learn all of the facts before the trial, so that no one is surprised at trial.
- What should I expect at a deposition? Depositions generally take place in an attorney’s office, not in a courtroom. Your attorney, the other party’s attorney, and a court reporter (also known as a stenographer) are all allowed to be present. You are under oath during the deposition and are required to give truthful answers to the best of your ability.
- What comes after a deposition? After the deposition, the court reporter then takes the pages of shorthand and transcribes them into English. This transcript may take a few weeks to produce. All parties to a case will then eventually receive copies of your deposition transcript via discovery.
- Can I bring notes to a deposition? You should not bring any notes, diaries, or other records to help you state your case during a deposition unless they have been thoroughly reviewed by your attorney. This is because any document you produce may be examined by the opposing counsel, and can potentially be used against you.=
- Can you refuse to answer a question in a deposition? In most cases, a deponent cannot refuse to answer a question at a deposition unless the answer would reveal privileged or irrelevant private information, or the court previously ordered that the information cannot be revealed (source). However, there are certain types of questions that do not have to be answered.
- What if someone lies in a deposition? In theory, if you lie under oath you could be prosecuted for perjury, which is a crime. The reality is that perjury charges for lying at a deposition are pretty rare. Still, one would hope that the possibility of a serious criminal charge would be enough to dissuade a witness from testing those odds.
- Who pays for a deposition? The party that requests the deposition testimony of a party or witness must pay for the court reporter and the original deposition transcript. Typically, in California, the paying side will receive the original transcript and one certified copy.
- Who can sit in on a deposition? As a practical matter, the only people present at most depositions are the examiner, the deponent, deponent’s counsel, other parties’ and/or their counsel, the court reporter, a videographer, and an interpreter, if necessary.
- Can the deposition be videotaped? Yes, it may. If properly noticed, a deposition may be videotaped. If there will be a videotaped deposition, you should dress as you would in going to court. For a good article on videotaped depositions, click here.
- Can you go to trial without depositions? Yes,you can go to trial without depositions, but you run the risk of being surprised. Also, you will not have testimony under oath to impeach a witness if they change their story at
- Are depositions stressful? Depositions are not fun and given their importance can be very Having a confident and experienced trial lawyer by your side during your deposition will help to ease the stress and make you more comfortable. If you experience any stress, discuss this with your lawyer who has been through the process hundreds, if not thousands, of times.
- Can a witness be deposed more than once? In most cases, no. It usually requires court approval if any witness is to be deposed in the action more than once. There are some exceptions, but this is rather uncommon.