How should you handle a witness who won't give you a direct answer to a question? There are various solutions to this problem, including the following:
- If you foresee problems in advance of the deposition, notice up a video deposition; if the presence of the camera doesn't cure the witness of his impudence, you might at least be able to play clips of his impudence for the jury;
- Even without the video camera, you can tell the witness about your plans to show portions of the deposition transcript to the jury;
- You can tell the witness that unless he answers your questions, you will have to keep the deposition going for hours longer than is necessary;
- If the witness is represented by a lawyer, you can have the witness's lawyer intercede to get the witness back on the right track;
- You can stop the deposition and seek court intervention.
A very experienced lawyer I know has another suggestion. Sometimes, he says, you'll come across a witness who is very skillful in giving the appearance of cooperating in the process while not really cooperating at all; confronted with a witness like this, you should consider giving up and getting the evidence another way. In many cases, this will be the cheapest and most effective solution to the problem of the recalcitrant witness, and doesn't mean that the witness has "beaten" you.