So, you are taking a fact witness’s deposition, but you have never done so before. You are likely asking where you should start in order to properly prepare. It is true that depositions of fact witnesses can be complicated. You need to familiarize yourself with learning the rules that are both case-specific and court-specific. You will likely need to wade through a vast volume of documents in a short amount of time. You will also need to make sure you are covering all relevant topics in the deposition. While this will not cover all aspects of fact witness depositions, there are some tips that can help make it go more smoothly, according to the American Bar Association Journal.
Get to Know the Facts
•Initially when you prepare a deposition, make sure that you pull the applicable court orders or rules that govern depositions. When there is no court order, the court division handling the lawsuit will have specific rules posted on its website that governs discovery (including depositions) or there may be local rules that may apply.
•In addition to the rules that are specific to the case as a result of a court order, you should make yourself familiar with any unusual rules on depositions within your jurisdiction. Opposing counsel will easily detect your inexperience if you show that you are unfamiliar with the local rules.
Preparation Pays Off
•Be sure not to underestimate the power of investigating the facts when you are preparing for depositions. Be sure to search for important facts that may not be readily available in the pleadings. Social media is one of the best places to search for information that may support your theory of the case or undermine the other side’s theory. Involvement in other lawsuits is another way to gather information that could be useful for your deposition.
Organize and Know Your Exhibits
It is no surprise that in a fact witness deposition the attorneys have a large volume of documents to review with the deponent. The attorney taking the deposition must review and familiarize him or herself with the relevant documents. This should include references to the witness in plaintiff fact sheets, pleadings, discovery responses, other witnesses’ deposition, and other case-related documents. All documents that the witness brings to the deposition, as requested by the subpoena, should be marked as exhibits. The deposing attorney should also check to see if the documents are sufficient or if additional discovery needs to be propounded.
• Be sure to provide a buffer of time to receive all relevant documents well in advance of the deposition and account for delays.
Be sure to keep the big picture in mind when preparing for and taking a fact witness deposition. This will help further your case and lay the foundation for trial.