What Happens at a Deposition?

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Attorney Jeb Butler talks about what happens at a Deposition.

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► Jeb Butler:
Hi, I’m Jeb Butler, an attorney at the Butler Kahn Law Firm. We’re often asked what’ll happen to my deposition or what are depositions like? Or what is a deposition? Today we’ll talk about that a little bit. We could go on all day about depositions and lawyers do that. There are day-long, week-long seminars all about how to take depositions, how to use depositions and that kind of thing. But I presume you don’t want to spend a week listening to me talk. So today we’re just going to hit three high points. We’ll talk first about who’s at a deposition. Second, we’ll talk about what kind of questions get asked at a deposition. In other words, what are they going to ask me. And third, we’ll talk about how long the deposition might last. So we’ll begin with that question about who’s going to be there because that’s a good way to get acquainted with the idea of a deposition.
► A deposition is just sworn testimony that’s taken outside the courtroom. So in a deposition you have at least four people. We’re looking here at a picture taken of a deposition that occurred in person in my office. And in this one, you can see first here the witness. In this case, the witness is our expert accident reconstructionist. We can also see the court reporter over here. The court report’s the person who will swear in the witness, say, raise your right hand, swear to tell the truth. And then she’s also the person who will take down or make stenographic notes of every word that’s said while you’re on the record in the deposition. And then here we have the questioning lawyer. Since my firm always represents the plaintiffs, the questioning lawyer here is the defense lawyer who’s taking the deposition of our accident reconstruction expert. And then here is our man in the room, attorney Tom Giannotti.
► The questioning lawyer will ask questions of the witness. Usually that takes up most of the time in the deposition. Occasionally after that’s done, the defending lawyer, here our man Tom, will have a chance to ask questions. Sometimes we do, sometimes we don’t. And then if the defending lawyer asks questions, then the lawyer who did the initial questioning gets another chance to go again. And that can be passed back and forth many times. Usually though, it doesn’t happen for very long. So that’s who’s who in a simpler deposition.
► Sometimes however, they get more complicated than that. So you’ll recognize in this photo, the same conference room. And this is our conference room. This is during the tail end of the pandemic, is one of the first in-person depositions we did as all that started to wind down a little bit. And here we have a multi-party case. So there’s three defendants in the case, two plaintiffs. So things get more complicated. There’s more people in the room. And this one, our witness who’s another expert, is down here and the court reporter is here. She’s talking into a mask. Some court reporters do that and some don’t. And then we have a bunch of defense lawyers. Defense lawyer number one, two, three, four, and five. There are only three defendants, but some brought multiple lawyers to the deposition. And then we have our man in the room, my partner Matt Kahn, and then co-plaintiff, that is another party that was on our side of this particular case, Nick Potentis.

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