Attorney Tricks to Get You to Reveal Too Much at a Deposition
Engaging You in “Normal” Conversation
Most witnesses at a deposition are represented by a qualified Orange County personal injury attorney, or, at the very least, they have been prepared by one. This preparation does not consist of telling the witness what to say, but rather how to say things. First and foremost is to answer only the question asked, only in the narrowest of terms necessary to answer the question, and then to stop and add no further details.At the onset of the deposition, the witness is fully focused on this mindset, because it has been repeatedly emphasized by his attorney. However, opposing counsel, the lawyer who will question the witness, also is very much aware of this very standardized preparation.
The questioning lawyer will do all in his or her power to break down the witness’ prepared method of answering and instead lead the witness to expansive answers that volunteer information not asked by the wording of the question.How is that done? It is actually easier than it may seem at first, due to the nature of how people typically communicate. That is, it is more natural to be expansive and add more information when a asked a question than be narrow and guarded in your response. The fact of the matter is that the witness has been prepared to act unnaturally.
All the questioning lawyer need do is to get the witness to act naturally as if the deposition were a typical social conversation, not a legal proceeding under oath. The person will usually then forget what his Orange County personal injury attorney has told him.One tactic employed is to ask open-ended questions, such as, “Tell me about the accident.” There is no way for a witness to answer this question that will follow the preparation guidelines. If the witness hesitates, the lawyer may follow-up with something like, “Well, just start from the beginning.” If the witness does start to answer and then stops, the lawyer may the asked, “What happened next?”
Each question by the lawyer is open-ended and often a witness is worn down by the process. Remember, the lawyer has likely deposed many witnesses and is good at it. It is easy for a witness to forget the preparation and fall back into normal conversational patterns. A good lawyer can have you talking as you do in your everyday life in no time.
However, an experienced Orange County personal injury attorney who has prepared the witness will not just sit there and let that happen. The attorney may have to interrupt the witness’ answer in an effort not only to keep out the unnecessary information, but also to get the witness back on track.
Sometimes, the attorney sounds somewhat harsh in these interruptions. The attorney may instruct the witness, â€œPay attention. That wasn’t the question asked.” Or, he might say something like, “You’ve answered that question, now wait for another one.” Often, a witness may be taken aback by this tactic and not fully understand.
However, this may be what is absolutely necessary for a successful deposition. A good Orange County personal injury attorney will have explained this to the witness before the deposition began, so it will come as no surprise. The point is, the attorney and the witness are on the same side and have the same interests in the case.
For a free consultation with skilled Orange County personal injury attorney Samer Habbas, simply call (888) 848-5084.