22 Jul Can Depositions Be Rescheduled?
How to Reschedule a Deposition
Are you involved in a civil lawsuit? Maybe you were a victim of a car accident, you were hurt on the job, or the person you hired to fix your home damaged your property instead. Then you may have received a Subpoena for Deposition from the opposing attorney to interview you and cross-examine your testimony for evidence before trial. You notice, however, that you are unable to attend the date your deposition is scheduled for.
You may be asking then, can my deposition be rescheduled? In short, yes! Depositions can be rescheduled. In fact, it is very common for depositions to be deferred to a later date for various reasons. Provided that your excuse is deemed reasonable and approved by the court, you can work with your attorney to set a different date, time, or location for your deposition.
When rescheduling a deposition, counsel is usually responsive and understanding. It can be difficult to schedule various individuals to meet at one time and place with no conflicting priorities or prior obligations. If you cannot attend your deposition, read on to learn more about what your options are.
How Are Depositions Scheduled?
Depositions are coordinated by a scheduling attorney in conjunction with the opposing attorney that is requesting your testimony.
After the specifics for a date, time, and location have been arranged, you will receive a Deposition Subpoena.
A Deposition Subpoena is a court-ordered document summoning for a witness to orally testify and/or provide evidence for a case.
This subpoena is where you will find the predetermined date, time, and location, as well as the opposing attorney’s contact information. Sometimes a Deposition Subpoena is served with the time still to be determined. At this stage, you and your attorney may have the ability to propose specific times that work best with your schedule.
As a general rule, Subpoenas for Deposition should be scheduled with reasonable written notice to the person to be deposed. Federal and local rules for what “reasonable notice” actually means may vary or be proportional to the case specifics. However, the average notice time is at least two weeks before the deposition. A two-week time frame can usually allow for arrangements, accommodations, or reschedulings to be made.
Why Do Depositions Get Rescheduled?
Depositions are most commonly rescheduled for various reasons, including:
- Conflicting Schedules: Postponements occur when coordinating the varying schedules of the attorneys and the witnesses involved on both sides. Lawyers’ busy days mean limited room in their calendars, while the plaintiff or defendant may need to appear in court hearings or other legal proceedings that can also hinder ease of scheduling.
- Additional Time: Another reason for rescheduling might be that attorneys need more time to collect or review evidence from the “paper discovery” before the deposition. This can include documents such as contracts, leases, records, photos, diagrams, etc. that are necessary to the case.
- Location: If the deposition’s predetermined location is unreasonably distanced from the witness, the deposition may be relocated to closer proximity to accommodate for transportation.
- Other Common Causes: Illness, family emergencies, or extreme weather conditions come up unexpectedly and can also contribute to the deferral of a deposition.
Are There Consequences to Postponing a Deposition?
There are usually no extreme consequences to postponing a deposition if the court deems your excuse to be compelling and reasonable. It is important to keep in mind that reasons for rescheduling a deposition can be denied. Frequently rejected excuses include business trips, a busy personal life, or non-compliance by refusing to appear on a certain date.
Delaying a deposition more times than is necessary can make coordinating schedules more difficult and could ultimately delay the resolution to your case. In such instances, the court may file a motion to compel attendance and testimony, meaning you will be court-ordered to appear at a deposition and have your testimony recorded as soon as possible. More serious consequences can incur when postponing a deposition exceedingly.
Options to Reschedule Your Deposition
If you find that you need to defer a deposition to a more convenient time, date, or location, there are three main options you may be able to pursue. Whichever option you take, try to allow ample notice as a courtesy for each party involved unless it is an emergency. Speak with your attorney if you have any questions regarding the specifics of your case and how they may affect rescheduling your deposition, or if you would like to explore more options.
- Negotiate: The most straightforward way to reschedule a deposition is to negotiate with the opposing party. Speak with your attorney, providing legitimate reasoning for the deferment, so they can advocate for you to the judge and make the necessary arrangements to reschedule. If you do not have an attorney, you will need to contact the law office that will be conducting your deposition. Their contact information will be found on your Deposition Subpoena.
- Protective Order: When scheduling issues arise and cause conflict, or the opposing party refuses to reschedule your deposition, it may be in your best interest to request a protective order. According to Rule 26 (c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, courts “may, for good cause, issue an order to protect a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense.” A protective order can motion to cancel the deposition, or reschedule under specific terms while protecting you from court sanctions for nonappearance.
- Object: If the deposition you are being summoned to appear at was scheduled without “reasonable notice,” you may be able to file an objection to the notice of deposition.
Is there a limit to how many times I can reschedule? Technically speaking, there is usually no set limit to the number of times a deposition can be rescheduled. Rules for extensions may vary by state or city, but 2-3 deferments are common before the court can motion for a deposition to be held.
Can a deposition be done remotely? Yes! Remote depositions became a fantastic tool during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although in most areas it is now safe to have in-person depositions and other court proceedings, a lot of processes normally done in person pre-pandemic have made the transition to hybrid online options using various video conferencing software. Holding a remote deposition can have many benefits such as eliminating travel expenses, avoiding scheduling conflicts or delays, and optimizing productivity.
Can I cancel my deposition? Rescheduling is common for various reasons, however, the cancellation of a scheduled deposition is rare. Calling off a deposition usually only occurs if a settlement was reached or if the deposition is no longer required for the case. Otherwise, once you are under subpoena, the deposition is required and can only be canceled by the opposing attorney who requested your deposition.
What happens if I don’t attend a scheduled deposition? Simply choosing to not attend your scheduled deposition can lead to steep consequences. Court sanctions, such as contempt of court, can ensue when ignoring a subpoena. This can entail hefty fines or possible jail time, so it is critical to comply with mandatory attendance. If you find that you are unable to attend a deposition, the best course of action is to contact your attorney and reschedule to avoid any legal ramifications.