10 Deposition Tactics for Obtaining Killer Testimony

Last updated
January 27, 2024

Depositions lead you to a victory or defeat. Many legal consultants and lawyers find it challenging to deliver a flawless deposition. After all, questioning a witness can be extremely frustrating if the witness knows how to dodge the questioning in a skillful manner. To get you past this, we’ve prepared a list of techniques for taking depositions.

1. Don’t Reserve Objections

This practice seems quite mundane, yet significant. Some of the best criminal lawyers implement this technique to get an upper hand on the case. At the time of the deposition, take advantage of forcing the other side to make as many objections as possible. It’s easier to overcome the objections at that time since you are presenting solid evidence. Avoid putting any stipulations at the time of your deposition. Demanding the other side to reserve objections during your deposition can become painful as the case moves forward.

2.  Make the Witness Admit via Play or Ploy

Don’t expect the witness to
be honest and cooperative, as they incline you to take a different direction on
the case with no substantial outcome. Most of the time they would act as if
they can’t recall the details of the incident. A good tactic is to let the
witness walk their talk. This strategy usually leads them to spill out details
that are crucial for your case. Another way to get important information out
from the witness is by treating them in a polite and friendly manner. You can
expect a better output if you make the witness feel at ease.

3.  Wait Patiently for the Right Time

During a court hearing,
there comes a time when the witness is exhausted and ready to leave. If your
deposition starts in the morning, then the right time to question the witness
is somewhere around 4 pm. At this point, the witness is so tired that all the
lessons and preparations start to drain away. Preparing a series of questions
beforehand with an intention to force the information out of the witness can
result in a surprising outcome. Using your trump card at this moment can turn
the tables in your favor.

4. Keep Track of Everything

You never know when
something substantial slips away without your knowledge. The best practice is
to list down everything that happens throughout the court hearing. Even better
if you get a chance to record it on camera. In the heat of the moment, lawyers
can get physically aggressive during breaks between depositions. You wouldn’t
want to miss a chance of turning that incident into evidence and present it in
the court room.

5.  Visual Evidence Matters

Make a habit of filming all your depositions. It can benefit your case as images and footages have more weight compared to other forms of evidence. You don’t need to get an expensive camera or hire a videographer for this purpose, just get a simple camera and play it on your computer.

6. Silence has its own language

Being able to deploy awkward silence in the court room can increase your chances of winning the case. Questioning the witness in a way that creates silence can make the witness feel uncomfortable. Under such pressure, the witness ends up rambling out things that are helpful for your case.

7. Active Listening

Depositions should contain a good questioning strategy that involves a mix of open-ended questioning along with careful examination. Paying close attention to what the witness has to say can reveal some key discrepancies and strange facts. Solving the clues acquired during cross examination can be useful in getting out the truth from the witness. A practical advice would be to focus on what the witness has to say rather than preparing your next question.

8. Never Underestimate the importance of checklists

Numbers of minor and major details are taken into consideration while conducting a deposition. Dozens of grey areas can appear that need urgent attention. To overcome this issue, it’s recommended to create a checklist and mark off items that you’ve covered. You can allow flexibility in a situation where a crucial clue is dropped by the witness that can open a new line of questioning.

9. Keep Your Strategy Private

Witnesses are capable of deciphering your strategy. If they do so, they can easily omit details, obscure facts, and straight up lie while being witnessed. To prevent this from happening, try not to ask questions in a sequential manner that allows them to understand the motive behind your questioning. Be subtle and make sure that the witness doesn’t know where you’re going.

10. Re-Cross

Sometimes the defending
attorney can ask questions after your deposition to clarify certain things or
simply introduce more evidence. In that case, you should attempt cross
examination with the witness on the subjects covered by the defending attorney.
If possible you can even attempt to discredit the examination done by the
defending attorney.

We’re happy to share some
great techniques to deliver successful depositions. Let us know what you think
about these tactics in the comments section.