The discovery phase of pending lawsuits is when depositions are most commonly used. Attorneys rely on depositions while preparing and litigating civil cases. Depositions help lawyers discover crucial new evidence and facts about a case. Every state in the union allows attorneys to use depositions as they are often critical in the legal process. It is not uncommon for a witness to receive a subpoena that compels them to testify in a deposition.
Where Depositions Are Held
Most often, a deposition is held in the office of one of the attorneys participating in the legal case. Another common location is at a court reporting firm that provides deposition facilities.
- Depositions do not have to be held in the same state in which the legal proceeding is occurring. This is why court reporting firms that provide deposition services can be especially helpful. A witness can provide their deposition at a local court reporting firm rather than travel to another state to provide their testimony.
- Modern technology and current laws enable depositions in real time that can be recorded in one location and broadcast to another.
The Importance of a Deposition
Attorneys use depositions for several reasons, any of which may be vital for the strength of their case.
- A witness’s credibility or strength of testimony can be ascertained through the use of a deposition.
- Previous testimony provided by a witness in their deposition can be used against them later at trial if they change their story.
- If a witness is inconsistent in their courtroom testimony when compared to their pre-trial testimony in a deposition, a jury can consider the credibility of the witness when deliberating their verdict.
Depositions to Obtain Evidence
When a witness will not be available to testify during trial, they can provide their evidence in a deposition hearing which can later be used in court. This is usually a separate deposition process from the discovery deposition which takes place first. Evidence depositions are commonly used in circumstances such as these:
- When a witness is not expected to live long enough to testify in a trial.
- When a physician will not be available during the trial due to their patient load and schedule.
Discovery Deposition Scope
Most states agree that records depositions and discover are allowable when they directly pertain to a plaintiff’s charge or an accused’s defense. Beyond these areas, however, depositions may be denied. An attorney can request the court to approve a protective order that will limit the scope or breadth of the discovery deposition.
The importance of a discovery deposition cannot be overemphasized. Trials can be avoided when sufficient information is uncovered during the discovery phase that may include depositions. For this reason, attorneys rely on the services provided by a skilled court reporter Philadelphia trusts.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Veritext for their insight into the use of depositions in cases.