So here they are – the Top 10 Deposition Questions :

11 Mar

Lorenzo Velez

  • “Have you ever been arrested?”  (And the follow-up:  “Have you ever been convicted?”)  Opposing counsel may go ballistic on this one, but it is a proper question.  Remember, felony convictions and any convictions for fraud, dishonesty or moral turpitude are generally admissible for impeachment.
  • “Have you ever been deposed before?”  I ask this at the beginning of the deposition, as part of the standard admonition, when it sounds like an innocent inquiry related to the ground rules for the depo.  But if the answer is ”yes,” I always follow up later with questions about the prior deposition(s).  I also ask the related questions, “Have you ever testified in court?” and “Have you ever been a plaintiff or a defendant in another lawsuit?”  Prior testimony and lawsuits can be a treasure trove of accusations and impeachment.
  • “Have you ever seen the [plaintiff/defendant/employee] before the events related to this lawsuit?”  This question may uncover connections between a supposedly independent witness and the other side.
  • “Did you meet with the other side’s counsel before this deposition?”  Pin down the number of meetings, where they occurred and how long they lasted.  This information can help dismantle the claim of independence.
  • “Have you signed any written statements/made any recorded statements/spoken to any reporters about the events related to this lawsuit?”  To this list, you might add:  “Have you posted any statements about these events on any internet site?”  Of course, you will have conducted a search engine and, perhaps, database query on the witness as part of your preparation for the deposition, so you’ll know if he or she is lying.
  • “Did you read any witness statements or depositions, listen to any recorded statements, look at any diagrams or photographs, or did somebody else read you any statements before the deposition?”  Okay, this is more than one question, but I had to combined them here to meet the 10-question quota imposed by the title of this article.
  • “Tell me everything you did to get ready for this deposition.”  The answer can lead you to what the witness or opponent perceives as his or her weak spots, including areas of which you were unaware.  After all, it is only natural to prepare for the hardest questions or topics.  Remember to find out the specific documents reviewed, places visited and persons met with by the witness.
  • “Was anyone else present when you met with your lawyer?”  If a third-party was present during the meeting, the witness may have waived the attorney-client privilege.
  • “How did you find your attorney [doctor/chiropractor/therapist/expert]?”  This can lead to interesting prior legal issues, lawsuits or self-interest/improper involvement on the part of opposing counsel.
  • “Do you have your driver’s license with you?”  If so, ask to see it.  Take down the personal information and, if appropriate, read it into the record.
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