Who Can Ask Questions During A Deposition?

Asking Questions At a Deposition

Within the United States, companies and individuals may find themselves involved in legal disputes with each other. There are many standard practices that attorneys will follow during these disputes. One of these things is a deposition. As you may know, a deposition is a meeting where the facts of the case are presented. While most depositions follow the same basic procedure, there is some flexibility in some cases. Although the main purpose of a deposition is to gain information through questioning.

So, who can ask questions during a deposition? The right to ask questions during a deposition belongs to both the plaintiff and defendant. This means that both sides can present their side of the story to get information that can help them move forward with their case. Each party’s attorney is also allowed to ask questions.

However, the way these questions are asked may be different between each side. There is also a difference between the number of questions each side gets to ask for their opportunity to present evidence and testimony during a deposition.

So let’s dive more into the nature of questioning now that we have the general answer. After you’re done reading this article, you will know exactly who can ask questions during a deposition and how!

Deposition Questions From The Plaintiff

The plaintiff gets to ask questions first. However, during a deposition, they are only allowed to ask ten questions in the span of the entire deposition.

Even though this seems like very little time, plaintiffs need to understand that another set of attorneys will be asking their questions after the plaintiff has finished. So it is important not to go overboard with questions.

Remember, if you ask too many questions, the opposing side might be able to object and not allow your question to be answered. This may cause some important evidence to be missed, so keep that in mind as well!

Deposition Questions From The Defendant

Once the plaintiff has finished asking their ten allotted questions, they will turn it over to the defendant. The defendant can then ask their ten questions to get information that is important to them.

Again, they will need to be mindful of this time limit because if they go over by just one question, the plaintiff might be able to object and not allow the question asked.

So, the defense attorney may be left with lost information; this is why keeping track of time during a deposition is super important.

Attorney Questioning During Deposition

This brings up the important topic of attorney questioning. Since this is a deposition, any questions asked can be objected to by either side. If an objection is raised, it will be decided on by the court official who is presiding over the deposition.

Once that decision has been made, that ruling cannot be appealed or changed. So if you are an attorney, you must think twice before asking a question. You need to make sure that your questions are important enough to have the court official’s ruling on them.

This is why many attorneys will either work together or agree upon what type of questions they should ask during a deposition to move their case forward.

Since both sides can object if they feel like a question is not appropriate, it is important to make sure that the questioning during a deposition will not harm your client. Work with other attorneys and be sure to ask questions that are crucial for your case!

The Deposition Officer

Finally, the deposition officer has the right to ask questions. This is usually done when they are trying to clarify information that is being presented by either plaintiff or the defendant.

These questions are important because they may clear up some confusion about what was initially said during a deposition.

The deposition officer can be defined as anyone who is in charge of running the deposition. This can include a court reporter, a judge, or a court official. Their job is to make sure that everything runs smoothly and all information is gathered during a deposition.

Order Of Deposition Questioning

Now that we know who can ask questions, is there an order to it all? Well, this depends on what type of deposition it is.

Video Deposition

If it is a video recorded deposition, then the plaintiff gets to go first. After that, it will be turned over to the defendant or their attorney for ten questions. Once that’s done, the deposition officer or court reporter may ask any clarifying questions.

The next person up will be the defense attorney, and they can also ask ten questions; everything should go back and forth until both sides are satisfied with all information gathered during a deposition.

Audio Deposition

When it is an audio recorded deposition, this means that there will not be anything recorded except what is happening during the deposition. For this type of deposition, the plaintiff gets to go first and ask ten questions. Once those ten questions are asked, they will be turned over to the defendant or their attorney.

They can ask ten questions consecutively, so they need to keep track of these questions because time is always an issue when taking a deposition. Once all ten have been asked, it will be handed back over to the plaintiff and they can ask ten more questions. This should go back and forth until both sides are satisfied with all information gathered.

Preparing The Deposition Questions

One mistake that defendants or their attorneys make is not preparing ahead of time. Before the deposition, they should ask themselves some important questions. For example, what are your goals? What do you want to accomplish by having this deposition? How can I use the information gathered to my advantage?

These are all questions that need to be answered before a deposition takes place. Attorneys need to make sure that they are well prepared and ready to answer any questions asked of them by the plaintiff or defendant.

After the questions have been determined, it is best to write them down in a form similar to an outline; this will help when asking specific people certain types of questions. The more organized you are, the better it will work out for you during a deposition.

What Types Of Questions Are Asked?

During a deposition, each attorney is trying to get information from the other side. Some of the most common types of questions that are asked during a deposition include:

  • What happened in your own words?
  • Do you have a copy of the contract?
  • What did he say when he called?
  • What’s your relationship to the defendant/plaintiff?
  • What did you do that night?
  • Where were you when it happened?

If each attorney asks pertinent, relevant questions, then they will be able to come to an understanding about what exactly happened. The best thing attorneys can do is prepare ahead of time and know what information they are looking for.

What Kind Of Questions Aren’t Allowed?

Depositions are not just a free-for-all, however. Some questions aren’t allowed to be asked by anyone. Here are a few examples:

  • Questions that are not relevant to the case
  • Ones that are misleading or confusing
  • Anything that is argumentative or designed to insult
  • Personal questions like religious or political beliefs
  • Redundant questions

 

When it comes to asking questions during a deposition, you can’t ask whatever is on your mind. The best thing to do is know exactly what type of information needs to be gathered and keep those questions as organized as possible.

When Can You Not Ask Questions?

There are certain times during a deposition when questions cannot be asked. Some of the most common times when questions cannot be asked include:

  • When a deposition has been waived by both parties
  • When a motion to exclude is filed and granted
  • During a court hearing, in front of a jury, or when a judge is present

 

There are times when both parties agree not to ask any questions during a deposition. This typically happens if the case has been settled or the depositions have been taken before. If a motion is filed that says certain questions cannot be asked, then the judge will make the final decision about whether those questions can be asked or not.

Does A Judge Ask Questions?

During a deposition, a judge will not ask questions. Attorneys can answer any type of question that is directed toward them, but the judge won’t get involved in this part of the deposition at all. They are there to guide everyone through it and ensure that everything happens fairly and correctly.

Remember that a deposition is not the same as a court trial. While it does hold significant weight and can be used as evidence, it happens before the actual trial. Therefore, the judge is not there to ask questions or make any kind of judgment yet.

Conclusion

It’s important to know who can ask questions during a deposition and when it is appropriate to do so. If you find yourself preparing for a deposition, it’s good to know as much as possible what to expect! Always consult an attorney for legal questions and for help in preparing for a deposition.

Matt McWilliams
matt@mcwilliamsmedia.com

Deposition Academy is an online website created to guide those in the legal videographer industry or those interested in starting a legal videography business. The site has expanded to cover a variety of legal topics that are related to depositions and the deposition process. Our team of writers have written for a variety of legal blogs and website.



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