26 Mar What Is A Deposition In California?
When a party or witness is making a statement under an oath, it is called a deposition. There are two parties in the process. The person who is asking the questions is called the deposing party. The person answering the questions is the deponent.
There might be many reasons behind a deposition in California. The purpose of a deposition is to find out exactly what a person knows about a situation, event, or people. Depositions can be both written and spoken, but spoken deposition tends to be more common.
Advantages of Depositions
There are many advantages to deposition, and that’s why it is still practiced in California among other places. Here we briefly discuss the advantages of deposition.
- Getting evidence from those who cannot participate in the hearing process. It can be anyone ranging from an old person to a disabled person. With depositions, their take on a matter is taken note of and acted upon.
- If the witnesses share a particularly bitter relationship, face-to-face interactions between them can turn violent. Especially when courts have to deal with potentially violent people, depositions can be a good idea.
- The attorney can minutely inspect the demeanor of the witness in a deposition. It allows them to make much better and more informed decisions. Moreover, attorneys can also record deposition statements in audio or video formats. Doing so will keep the testimony intact for future reference.
- The questioning procedure can be more grueling and accurate. The respondent is not under the pressure of a courtroom watching them. As a result, the answers are often more spontaneous and open. The attorney can also ask narrower and narrower questions to arrive at the crux of the matter.
- There is no limit to how many questions an attorney can ask in depositions as long as it is under 7 hours. The same freedom is not there in courtrooms. Hence, attorneys can ask better questions and go into the depths of an issue.
- Often one party can withdraw from the trial if your attorney does a good job. The deposition can open their eyes to the weakness of the case, and they might voluntarily drop it. If you have a skilled and experienced personal injury attorney, this can be very beneficial.
However, there are certain disadvantages to deposition as well. We will come to that later. For now, let’s look more into the deposition process and how it’s done.
While we are at it, it is important to note that no information is more valuable than what your lawyer would tell you about a case. Since lawyers work directly for you and your specific case, they know the nuances and exceptions better. Most criminal and courtroom procedures also have exceptions. That is beyond the scope of this article. However, a lawyer would know exactly what your situation demands and act accordingly. It is always a good idea to be informed about legal proceedings, terms, and their meanings. But no advice can surpass in value what your lawyer would give you.
Background information on depositions
There are some rules to depositions that both parties have to follow. For example, one rule states that both parties get only one deposition each. This rule is in effect because it prevents misuse of depositions or uses as a harassment tool. If one person has to attend multiple depositions, each taking anywhere from 1 to 7 hours, that will have an effect on their life structure. The single deposition rule prevents these things from happening.
However, there is a catch. While the law mandates that each person can go through one deposition only, it does not specify how many people can go through it for one case. An attorney can decide who is involved in the case and conduct depositions accordingly. That gives attorneys the freedom to look at the case from various angles. At the same time, this law can be misused. An attorney can drag in more people than necessary in the case to make it lengthy and more complicated. A skilled attorney will do their best to use depositions to the advantage of their client. Therefore, it is very important to stick to someone who has been in the trade for a long time and knows the ins and outs of legal proceedings.
Depositions can be expensive
There is no going around the fact that legal proceedings can cost a lot of money. Depositions, in particular, can be very expensive. That is essential because you are mimicking a courtroom scenario in a private place. However, you would still need all the components that a courtroom has. That includes a stenographer, transcribing the stenography, payment of witness fees, logistical expenses, and a lot more.
To prevent spending more money than necessary, it is crucial to work in close coordination with your lawyer. A good lawyer will know the tricks of the trade that can lower expenses. Even if you are cutting costs at a marginal level in many different areas, the overall result will be great.
Since the expenditures associated with depositions are so high, many people opt for other discovery methods. Some of these methods may not be as effective as deposition. Nonetheless, they are an option when the expense is getting out of hand. While working closely with a skilled lawyer can help you save some money, it cannot make the expenditure zero. You might still need to pay some amount, and it is better to be prepared for it.
Many opt for depositions despite the added costs because the method has proven to be very effective, As we discussed earlier, there are a number of benefits to depositions. Sometimes, your car accident lawyer can assess the situation can figure out whether the extra investment is worth it. If your case involves financial compensation, it might be a good idea to go with the deposition even at extra expense. In a nutshell, only an experienced attorney will be able to tell you whether spending that extra amount on depositions will be worth it or not for your specific case.
Now that we have talked about all the pros of depositions, it is time to check out the other side of the coin.
Disadvantages of depositions
As we already mentioned, the added expenditure can be a serious disadvantage to depositions. However, that does not mean it is the only disadvantage. Several other factors also contribute to making depositions a tedious and expensive process. Here we discuss some of the most common disadvantages of depositions.
- If a deposition is not followed through properly, the first few sessions might be a complete waste of money. While a lawyer would work towards extracting as much information as possible, sometimes the stats and facts can take a lot of time. Reaching the crux of the matter after going through the stats and figures can be a tedious process. As a client, it would also be a test of patience for you. Not everyone can go through it, especially when there is a huge monetary angle to it. To figure out whether depositions would be the right approach, you need to evaluate your case along with a competent lawyer.
- Your oppositions can figure out key information about the case from the deposition process. since they will be going through the questioning process, they will also come across any hitherto unknown facts. Depending on the nature of the case, that can be a very big problem. Related to this problem, there is also the problem of the witnesses being better prepared for the courtroom. Since they would have gone through the process already, your attorney will lose the element of surprise. That can be quite a big disadvantage depending on your case. It also depends a lot on the witnesses and the deposing party.
- Not everyone will have the mental grit or financial power to get through a deposition. Depositions entail a lot of responsibilities and tasks at the end of the deposing party. If the party is not mentally and financially strong, the process can take a toll on their life. While all courtroom proceedings are stressful, depositions can be more stressful than others. There are multiple people involved in it, and not everyone will have the grit of enduring a legal procedure. It can give a shock to the mental and psychological faculties. Parties must move forward with deposition keeping all these factors in mind.
As you can see, there are both advantages and disadvantages to depositions. Depositions are not unique in this regard. Any legal discovery process comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. For someone outside the legal circuit, understanding the nuances of each can be impossible.
As we already said, only a competent lawyer will be able to tell you whether depositions are for your case or not. There are no two ways about it. Lawyers practice their trade for years and have access to insider and exclusive knowledge. A good lawyer works towards making the most of this knowledge for the benefit of the clients.
Steps of a deposition
Before you move forward with a deposition, you must know about the various steps involved in the process. Below we list some of the key steps of the deposition process and how to prepare for each.
Determining date and location
You need to give a 10 or 15-day notice to the deponent. The laws of California also specify that the witnesses must be given sufficient time to gather all necessary documents and pieces of evidence. On top of that, the location of the deposition must be accessible for both parties. These requirements put many hindrances to the process, but they are for the convenience of both parties.
Filling up forms
Most of us do not like forms but that’s how courts work. But before filling up forms, you need to write a deposition notice. In most cases, the attorney would help their client with the notice and the forms, and they would not need to meddle in it. However, it is important to know the basics to figure out whether you are with the right lawyer or not.
Deposition of non-party witnesses requires all or any of the following forms:
- Deposition Subpoena for Personal Appearance (SUBP-015)
- Deposition Subpoena for Personal Appearance and Production of Documents and Things
There might be more forms depending on your case. However, it is important to fill these out accurately. Mistakes in these forms can invite trouble later. Any good lawyer ensures that their client does not have to bear the pressure of filling out forms and doing paperwork. While it is non-negotiable, a good lawyer will make the process much smoother.
As a side note, it is important that you make multiple copies of every document. Be it a form or a notice or anything else, have multiple copies of the same document. You should have both physical copies and the same stored on the cloud.
Serving your documents and paying fees
Once all the documents are in place, it is time to serve them. Every party associated with the case must have copies of the document. While doing these things, it is important to always retain the original copies with you.
Fees have to be paid when the documents are served or at the beginning of the deposition. There are set amounts ( $35 per day and $0.20 per mile traveled) to be paid to non-party witnesses. There are also expenses of court reporters, transcriptions, videography, and so on. It is important to note that party deponents do not have a right to witness fees or mileage charges.
Following these steps, the deposition procedure begins. After the session is over, all the findings and reports are handed over to the court. Deponents also get a 30-day window to change any of the contents of their answers in the transcript.
Work With Steve Gimblin To Get The Help You Need!
As you can see, depositions can be challenging and complicated. While we have said it many times already, allow us to repeat it one last time: only a competent lawyer can tell you whether depositions are right for your case or not. Contact the Law Offices of Steve Gimblin for help today!