8: How to Give an Expert Deposition

depositionDepositions are one of the most important activities performed by forensic experts, second only to the final testimony.  A deposition is the process where the opposing lawyers question the forensic expert, under oath, about what they are going to testify during trial.  These questions are designed for the opposing lawyer to gain information about the investigation that the forensic expert performed, to learn what the expert would testify about in court.

Just like testifying in court, it is very important for the forensic expert to prepare beforehand for the deposition.  Carefully sifting through his or her investigation with a fine tooth comb, and reviewing all investigative notes can make a large difference on their success when being deposed.  The forensic expert should also work with their client lawyer directly to learn what information the opposing lawyer will be most interested in and how to properly express their answers.

Ten Tips for Giving a Good Deposition

  1. The forensic expert should dress professionally.  I always wear a suit and tie when being deposed.
  2. The expert should only answer the questions that are asked.  They should avoid elaborating too much on their answers in order to avoid giving away too much information.
  3. The forensic expert should always prepare with their client lawyer.  The lawyer will always know more about the case and what information should be shared.
  4. The expert should be aware of anyone attending the deposition remotely and make sure to make eye contact with him or her through the camera being used in the system.
  5. The forensic expert should speak clearly so the court reporter can accurately type everything they say during the deposition.  Sitting close to the court reporter if possible can greatly help.
  6. The expert should always obtain a copy of the transcript to make sure all of the information is accurate.
  7. The expert should arrive early to the deposition.  They may not know the location well and allowing extra time can save the expert from being late.
  8. The expert should bring a current copy of their curriculum vitae to make sure that it is presented as part of the deposition.
  9. The expert should have all of their notes ready in front of them as well as their forensic report.  Any evidence that needs to be presented should be ready as well.  If evidence needs to be presented from a computer, the expert should make sure that it is working properly beforehand.
  10. Finally, the forensic expert should practice their deposition.  Even beyond rehearsing with their client lawyer, the expert should go through all of their notes and reports prior to being deposed.  They should spend time the night before double-checking all of their information to ensure they are ready for the deposition.  More often than not, this can make a difference in the deposition.

Listen in with Audio and Video Forensic Expert Ed Primeau as he discusses how to properly prepare for and give a good deposition.

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