I promised my readers more on taking a deposition and the Eight Simple Rules© along with the One Simple Question©. Do you recall the Eight Simple Rules©?
For the sake of clarity I’ll repeat them again.
Deposition Testimony Rules:
1. Tell the Truth
2. Listen to the Question
3. Make sure you understand the Question
4. If you don’t understand the Question ask for clarification.
5. Pause and think about your answer.
6. If you can answer with a “Yes” or “No”, answer with a “yes” or “no”.
7. If the answer requires more than a “yes” or “no”, keep your answer concise/brief.
8. Don’t offer any information.
Now let’s talk about a few of the mistakes clients make during depositions and the tricks defense lawyers employ to make you slip up. The list is quite long but I have no time to write about all the tricks. Remember I’m not sitting around all day, I do have to work.
A deponent is a person; not a disease. If you’re answering questions in a deposition then you are the deponent. A deponent is under oath, meaning they have administered an oath to you.
An oath means you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. As in a deposition at trial you will also be under oath. That’s important because if your answers appear different at trial than they were in the deposition the implication is that you’re not being truthful.
Here is what you will hear at trial. “At the deposition your answer was different, so should I assume you were telling us the truth then or now? How can I tell when you’re telling the truth?”
As you can well imagine this would be an uncomfortable situation to be in so remember the Eight Simple Rules© and learn to follow them.
Rapid Fire – Rapid fire is a questioning technique used to trip the deponent up on rules two through eight and to make your answer appear to be less than trustworthy. You will recognize this technique is in use when answering the lawyer’s questions makes you light headed or out of breath. Rapid fire is what it sounds like. The next question comes immediately after you answer the previous question. There is little time to think. The deponent starts to feel anxious, and reacts by “firing back” at the lawyer.
But what deponents have to realize is that seldom can they win this exchange. The lawyer has had weeks to prepare his/her questions. They are professionals and some, like I have, have taken more than a thousand depositions. During rapid fire it won’t take long before emotions take the place of reason and the Eight Simple Rules© are forgotten. I don’t care if you “meant to tell the truth” but because of “the lawyer’s questions” you became emotional and lost your head.
It is easy. So, follow the damn rules.
So how do you recognize this technique and how do you combat it? Well it’s pretty simple. Go back to the Eight Simple Rules© and review them. Remember, listen to the question, then make sure you understand the question, followed by if you don’t understand the question ask for clarification; and then pause and think about your answer.
And if you sense you are losing your cool, ask to take a break. And when you return look at the table. Don't look at the angry lawyer.
Let’s stop there today because this is enough. Don’t be fooled by the question or the person asking the questions. Leave your emotions at the door. No one cares that you just want to get this over with and to be treated fairly. The lawyer employing “Rapid Fire” he isn’t here to treat you fairly, he’s here to represent his client’s interests.
And if you don’t understand that point you’re making a big mistake. There are only two reasons for him/her to speak with you and neither is good for your case. You’re being asked questions so they can figure out a way to pay you nothing or less then you deserve. So read the Eight Simple Rules© and follow them.