In any legal proceeding, maintaining the highest ethical standards is critical. While an aggressive approach might unsettle some witnesses or counsel, it is ultimately in your best interest to minimize potential conflict. It’s best to behave kindly and warmly to all parties present. To ensure your deposition goes smoothly, here are our top 3 rules for ethical behavior:
Object only in good faith
Deposition veterans have likely encountered an opposing counsel who interrupts every few minutes with a different and unfounded objection. Some use this as a scare tactic against an attorney who may be new to depositions. Although there’s no need to be overly cautious, remember that deposition objections are limited to privilege, form, and relevancy.
In some cases, objections are a subtle means of coaching a witness. Always remember that neither you nor the opposing counsel may attempt to coach a witness, whether using objections or direct instruction. Furthermore, you should never try to claim attorney-client privilege unless you are certain the objection has merit.
Of course, your own good behavior is not always enough motivation for opposing counsel to control themselves. If you feel you’re being pushed around and unfairly interrupted by the other attorney, then make sure to state that fact for the record. If you do not vocalize the issue, it may not make it in the transcript.
Hire a videographer
One of the most effective tactics for ensuring an ethical deposition is to employ legal videographers. The knowledge that you are being recorded can work wonders for quelling improper objections and bad behavior! Moreover, if the events of the day are later disputed, you’ll be able to refer to the recording.
As a bonus, hiring a videographer is also a great way to review your own deposition performance. By reviewing your conduct, you’ll be able to see where you could benefit from more preparation. You’ll also be able to gather information about the kind of deposition behavior that might rattle you. If you know you will be facing an opposing counsel who is prone to those tactics, you’ll be able to anticipate the behavior. Understanding your personal irritants can help you prepare for the next deposition.
Plan carefully and know your options
A successful deposition is the result of careful planning. During the planning process, be sure to make yourself aware of court rules. In some cases, you may be able to suspend the deposition if opposing counsel is particularly difficult. In this case, simply file a motion with the court, asking for sanctions against the other attorney.
Although it can feel risky to end a deposition, you should never let opposing counsel badger your witness. It not only hurts your case, but it can also compromise your witness’ trust in you. If you’ve tried to end the disruptive behavior, don’t be afraid to walk away.
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