- January 29, 2016
- Posted by: admin
- Category: Blogs
A deposition is an out of court oral testimony of a witness under oath. Such recorded testimony by a witness is later reduced to writing for use in the court or for the purposes of discovery. Depositions are governed under Rule 30 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP).
The purpose of a deposition is dual. Firstly, it enables one to extract information which a witness knows and secondly, to preserve such witness testimony.
An individual deponent (or witness) receives a notice or subpoena to appear at the deposition to answer questions about any personal knowledge related to the case. They are often asked to bring documents with them to the deposition. Depositions enable a party to know in advance what a witness will say at the trial. Depositions can also be taken to obtain the testimony of important witnesses who cannot appear during the trial. In that case, they are read into evidence at the trial. Often a witness’s deposition will be taken by the opposing side and used to discredit the witness's testimony at trial if the trial testimony varies from the testimony taken during the deposition. The entire deposition is preserved word-for-word by a court reporter, who is present throughout the session. A transcript is produced at a later time.
Under FRCP 30(d)(1) and its state counterparts, a deposition normally must take place for no longer than seven hours a day for each deponent, unless otherwise stipulated by the parties or ordered by the court. This means that the deposing party who knows that a deposition will go longer than one day must either ask the deponent to stipulate to more time or if the deponent is uncooperative, go before the court and file a motion for a longer deposition.
Be it a personal injury matter or a medical malpractice case, deposition is an essential tool for discovery because it brings out many hidden facts on the front and helps attorneys to reach out to the basic issues of the case. It is a stage which brings an opportunity to both parties to see the case from something more than mere typewritten papers. A properly recorded deposition goes a long way in bringing the case to the winning decision on behalf of a client. When depositions run into 100s and 1000s of pages and a case requires many witnesses to be deposed, it becomes very difficult to keep track of all of them. Instead of getting yourself involved in number of pages and preparing your notes out of that, a much preferred choice would be to summarize the deposition. A deposition summary is a written synopsis of a deposition that condenses the question and answers to a succinctly written, explicable format.
Deposition summaries have consistently been outsourced to third-parties that deal in deposition summarization. While the business model for outsourcing deposition summaries is established, the ethical guidelines for such outsourcing have only recently been elaborated. Outsourcing legal services, including deposition summaries, has been approved by the American Bar Association (ABA), state and local bar associations and the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA). The NCRA has further held that while a court reporter may not summarize a deposition transcript, there is no restriction for a court reporting company to partner with a deposition summary provider. That is stated in Advisory Opinion 32 of the NCRA (1997). Advisory Opinion 32 of the NCRA (1997) deals only with the type of summary whereby the neutral, unbiased reporter and keeper of the record prepares an "objective" summarization of a deposition which he or she personally reported. The word "summary" implies abbreviated version or an abstract of what took place.
The purpose of a deposition summary is to accurately, objectively, and concisely summarize a deponent’s testimony into a useful reference document for a reviewing party. The deposition summary provides an outline of the deposition, enabling a reviewing party to quickly gain a general understanding of the deposition. The deposition summary should include only relevant information extracted from the deposition. The deposition summary is not intended to replace a full reading of the deposition transcript.
It is used for the following purposes:
- Describes a deposition for insurance adjuster or client
- Refreshes witness’s recollection before the trial or hearing
- Helps prepare for other depositions in the same case
- Aids in preparation for additional discovery
- Assist lawyers not in attendance at deposition
- Enables lawyers to better prepare evidence and motions
- Serves as a trial preparation aid
- Summarizes testimony for jurors at the trial
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