By now (for better or worse), you’ve probably heard of Justin Bieber. He managed to land himself in a lawsuit with a former employee, and on March 6, 2014, as part of that suit, Bieber was deposed. (You can watch the deposition at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=emsLrZg160s).
All jokes aside, Bieber’s deposition is a perfect example of what NOT to do during a deposition. Here’s where he went wrong:
1) Don’t be a jerk. Ever! Look, if you’re being deposed, it’s not going to be fun. You’re going to have to sit in front of an attorney and answer personal questions that are being recorded. Perhaps that attorney is a jerk. The last thing you should do is lower yourself to that standard. No matter what question is asked (or how it is asked), always be polite, respectful, and calm. You gain credibility with the attorney deposing you.
2) If you don’t understand the question, simply ask that the question be repeated. Attorneys are people, too. Oftentimes, we ask unclear, poorly worded questions. If you find yourself not understanding the question, simply say, “I don’t understand the question; could you repeat it?” Attempting to be argumentative, non-responsive, or sarcastic will not get you far in depositions. And all it does is make you lose credibility – which is bad for your case!
3) You don’t get to decide what questions you must answer. Depositions are not like court. In court, there are Rules of Evidence that your attorney can employ to prevent irrelevant or improper questions. In depositions, permissible questioning is much more far reaching. In fact, the questions don’t even have to be relevant; it merely must be calculated to lead to relevant information. If an irrelevant or impermissible question is asked, it’s your attorney’s job to make an assessment as to whether to object. And even if he objects (except in very limited circumstances, such as privileged information) you must still answer the question.
4) Claiming “I don’t remember” when you do remember is lying. Don’t do it. Before the deposition, you are required to swear under oath to the truth of the answers you give. Lying to avoid answering a question that may be harmful is simply unacceptable. As we write in our free book, The Road to Justice: The Ultimate Guide to Car Accident Cases in Pennsylvania, honesty is always the best policy and lying or even exaggerating can ruin an otherwise good case.
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