A party may take the oral deposition of any person who has information
relevant to the litigation. The person to be deposed may agree to appear at a
certain time and place for the deposition, or the deposing party may ask the
court to order the witness to appear. All of the parties to the litigation must be
notified of the time and place for the deposition. Each party to the litigation
has the right to be present and to question the witness, usually through
At the beginning of the deposition, the witness must swear or affirm an oath to
tell the truth. The deposition is recorded stenographically or electronically.
Many depositions are now videotaped. This is useful if the witness does not
appear at trial. If either a witness’s or a party’s testimony at trial is
substantially different from their deposition, the videotape can be played at
trial to impeach the testimony. After the deposition is completed, a transcript
will be prepared so that the attorneys and the judge will be able to discuss the
admissibility of each question and answer. This transcript can also be entered
into evidence at trial to create a record of proof if the testimony changes
between the deposition and the trial.
The attorney requesting the deposition asks the first questions. When this
attorney completes the questioning, the attorneys for the other parties ask
their questions (cross- examination). When all the parties’ attorneys have had
their turn, the requesting attorney may ask additional questions (redirect),
starting the round robin again. This process of cross-examination makes
depositions time consuming for the participants and expensive for the clients.
It is not unusual for a deposition of a party in a simple case to last for a day. In
complex matters, such as Medicare fraud cases, a party may be deposed for