What is a deposition?

Once a lawsuit has been filed, the attorneys for both sides can take oral statements from parties and witnesses under oath. Questions must be answered under oath, and are recorded by a court reporter,who then provides a transcript. Depositions may be videotaped, as well.

In court, a deposition might be introduced when a witness is unavailable; to remind a witness of what he or she said previously under oath; or to challenge the credibility of a witness who, in court, contradicts statements made in a deposition.

When attorneys take the deposition of a party, they are gauging if a party will be an effective witness at trial.  Is the person believable?  Can he or she express herself effectively?  Can the witness keep his or her composure when asked difficult questions?  All of these things are evaluated when a deposition is taken.