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What is a Deposition?

A deposition is essentially when a person testifies outside of court. The witness, who may be subpoenaed, is usually required to go to the office of one of the attorneys where a person called a court reporter also attends. The reporter whispers every word of the testimony into a special device, and at a later date prepares a written statement to be distributed to both sides. Each party must pay for a copy, which is usually charged at a rate per page, along with a sitting fee. The transcript prepared by the court reporter functions as sworn testimony.  It is sworn because the witness swears to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. The written statement of testimony may be used for many purposes, one of which is court.  Rarely can anyone tell how long the deposition will last unless special arrangements have been made in advance by the attorneys.

Although the atmosphere is relaxed compared with the courtroom, the deposition cannot be underestimated.  The written statement of testimony may be used for many purposes, one of which is court.  It can make or break a case.  Lawyers also get a preview of how the person will testify, and whether they seem to be credible or articulate. Like court, depositions are subject to many rules. However, unlike court, lawyers may only object to questions under a few limited circumstances, such as attorney-client privilege.  Most of the time, the objections must be addressed at the time of the trial.

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