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What is the purpose of depositions?

Aggressive and effective litigation requires thorough preparation. It is in this preparation process that an Ohioans can anticipate objections and build the legal arguments necessary to fully support his or her claim. We previously discussed the importance of the discovery process, but this process has many parts to it, each of which carries significant importance.

One part of discovery is taking depositions. A deposition is formal recorded questioning of a witness. Depositions occur prior to trial. There are two reasons to conduct a deposition. The first is to simply discover what a witness knows. Through a deposition, an individual can discover if it is worth calling that particular witness to testify at trial. So, if all witnesses are deposed prior to trial, each side should know exactly how the witnesses will testify. This can help identify strengths and weaknesses in a case and spur settlement negotiations.

The second purpose of a deposition is to lock a witness into his or her testimony. So, if an individual testifies differently at trial than he or she did during a deposition, then the transcript of the depositional testimony can be used to attack that witness's credibility and/or correct his or her testimony. This is a powerful way to handle surprises at trial.

Depositions are formal, which means that objections should be made during questioning and questions should be relevant. They are only as useful as they are strong. Therefore, depositions that ask weak questions and fail to address pertinent issues can be useless during litigation preparation and at trial. Therefore, individuals who are anticipating litigation need to conduct diligent preparation to ensure strong legal arguments can be presented at trial.

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