What Is A Deposition?

A deposition is an out-of-court sworn statement made during a lawsuit.  Typically, the lawyer representing the opposing party to a lawsuit will take your deposition to understand information you have about the case.  Witnesses to events giving rise to the case may also be asked to give a deposition.

A deposition usually takes place in a conference room at the offices of one of the lawyers that is involved in the case.  A person called a "court reporter" is present to administer the oath and to record the testimony.  It is possible that the deposition will be recorded by a videographer.

Under Tennessee law, a person who is involved in a lawsuit can be asked to provide information that is "reasonably calculated to lead to admissible evidence in the case."  That means that if you file a lawsuit or are sued in a lawsuit you can be asked questions that directly involve the facts of the case and also questions that may lead to information that might find its way to evidence at trial.

This doesn’t mean you can be asked any question under the sun and it doesn’t mean that you can be harassed.  There is a permissible scope of questions that can be asked and 99% of lawyers do a good job of asking only the questions that they are legally permitted to ask.

Your lawyer will prepare you for your deposition and give you a good idea of the questions you will be asked.  After appropriate preparation, you will not have any difficulty giving a deposition if you follow the advice your lawyer gives you about how to conduct yourself.

The answers you give in the deposition will be used to evaluate your case.  If your case goes to trial, the other lawyer will use the deposition you give as he or she prepares for trial.  If your trial testimony differs from your deposition testimony, the opposing lawyer will use your prior deposition to "impeach" you –  to argue that you changed your testimony and therefore the judge and jury should not believe your trial testimony.  This is yet another reason why it is critically important that you prepare for your deposition and follow the rules that your lawyer gives you.