It's sounds crazy, but each year, scores of new lawyers experience unnecessary angst when they sit down with their detailed outlines for their first depositions and realize they've forgotten exactly how to get started.
It's something that's just not covered in the standard textbooks on depositions. Weblogs, however, are another matter. So let's back up a bit and take it from the beginning, step by step:
- After picking a date for the deposition, hopefully with input from the other side, it will be formalized with a deposition notice.
- Since it's your deposition, you will be responsible for making sure there's a court reporter present. Most secretaries will keep you from forgetting to get a court reporter, which is a good thing--it's quite embarrassing when it happens. Some lawyers even carbon copy the court reporting service on the notice itself, which is a useful tip to remember.
- On the day of the deposition, arrive early and stake out your ground. The court reporter will sit at the head of the table, just like your father used to do at dinner. You'll sit to his right or left--it's your choice. The witness will sit directly across from you.
- If the court reporter is there already and you are waiting for the witness or the other lawyer, you can have the court reporter pre-mark your deposition exhibits.
- Once everyone is assembled, it's your chance to shine. Begin the deposition with two simple phrases: "Is everyone ready?" followed by, to the court reporter, "Go ahead and swear the witness."
At this point, the court reporter will administer an oath to the deponent. After that, you can dig into your outline with the standard opening question, "Please state your name for the record," or, if you want to sound like an old pro, "Tell us your name, please."
If this is all too much to remember, it will put your mind at ease to know that even if you forget how to start a deposition, the court reporter won't. He'll see you piddling around with your papers and will ask, "Should I swear the witness?"
It's a long way of saying that you never really needed these instructions in the first place. So relax and take a deep breath: you'll do just fine.
Related Post at the Legal Underground: "The Horror of My First Deposition."