Sunday, June 29, 2008

Deposition Preparation

Please, read the best article on the subject several times prior to any deposition, and bring it to a preparation session with the attorney. Simply Positive: Preparing Witnesses for Deposition, by Sidney K. Kanazawa and Sabina A. Helton.

The most important, new point to me? You are dictating a permanent document open to use by the world. You are not in a conversation.

This article reviews deposition practices at the lawyer level.

Plaintiff attorney tactics that cross the line of unfairness, abuse, and intimidation merit a letter to the judge of the case from either expert or defendant or both. Request such a letter be written by defense counsel. The latter may refuse since the relationship with the client is temporary, that with the plaintiff counsel and judge more ongoing.

1) The lawyers carry very few cases, and have them memorized. They will use trivial facts to embarrass the witness, carrying 1000's of patients with no time to memorize big records. They seek to show, the witness does not know the facts, is not prepared. "You are trying to embarrass me. I will not tolerate that without seeking relief from the judge." For example, they may ask for dates, sequences of events, the names of the parties to the claim. Those facts have not really influenced the expert's opinion.

2) You will not know why they will repeat a question about important, relevant facts, after getting an extra piece of qualification from the witness. If you give the simple, yes, without the qualifying remark on the second request, you have contradicted yourself, and may be impeachable as changing the answer.

3) The plaintiff lawyer will ask leading questions with simple, yes or no answers. He is trying to get the opposing expert to agree to facts supporting his case. These should be listed and prepared for prior to the deposition or testimony with the defense lawyer. One should admit facts, even if they do not support one's side.

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