September 15, 2014
A deposition is where a witness or a party must answer questions under oath before trial. The deponent's answer are transcribed and today many depositions are videotaped. Depositions typically take place in a conference room. The judge is not present.
Depositions are an important discovery device - - remember, discovery is how parties obtain and share information prior to trial in a civil litigation.
Depositions are a useful way for lawyers to learn what witnesses will later say at trial. A witness who contradicts his deposition testimony will come across as unbelievable at trial. Based on deposition testimony and other evidence acquired during discovery, parties will often move for (and oppose) summary judgment.
Depositions usually take place after the parties exchange documents. Lawyers can then ask deponents about the documents. For example, in a business litigation, an executive might be questioned for hours or even days about emails that he sent and received.