The perfect deposition question has the following characteristics:
- It's short -- it contains no unnecessary words;
- It's clear -- it contains no ambiguities and is susceptible to only a single meaning;
- It's self-contained -- its meaning can be ascertained with reference to the one single question, standing alone;
- It's free of pronouns like "he," "she," or "they" -- otherwise, it would violate the rule just above;
- It's plain -- it contains simple words as opposed to complex, difficult ones; and
- It's a single question -- it contains only one question, not two or three.
Where can you find perfect deposition questions? You might find them in a deposition transcript, but you might not. The perfect deposition question is often an ideal, something you'll try for but won't always achieve.
Why should you care about making your deposition questions better? To the extent that your deposition questions lack the characteristics of the perfect deposition question, they will be harder for you to use in the ways that lawyers use deposition answers: in motions, for example, or for impeachment at trial. Questions that are ambiguous, confusing, or hard to understand will lead to answers that will be that much easier for the deposition witness to evade if that turns out to be what the witness wants to do.
Asking simple, clear, and direct deposition questions requires that you think that way too. It's a skill that can be practiced and learned, ideally by reviewing deposition transcripts -- your own and those of others -- and asking yourself how the questions can be improved.
Some deposition testimony just doesn't matter as much. At these points, asking the "perfect" deposition question isn't quite as important. But if you want to acquire the habit of asking good deposition questions, aim to do it all the time.
Related Posts: See this weblog's "deposition category."