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The objective of the deposition will often dictate the type of deposition techniques used. If one hopes to gather unknown information from a witness, the technique may be to use open-ended questions to get him or her talking. Deposition techniques are calculated and are utilized to achieve specific results. Sometimes, being silent is a good technique. An extended period of silence can create discomfort and cause people to talk to fill up that silence. Listen closely as much can be learned from impulsive comments.
Some deposition techniques are put in place long before questions are asked or testimony is given, such as deciding on the setting. Does one want witnesses to feel comfortable and at ease? If so, it may be best to schedule the deposition at their attorney’s office, a neutral setting, or even in their own home. Some attorneys want people to feel a bit out of their element and arrange very formal meetings in their own offices for this purpose.
Other useful deposition techniques include asking questions in an apparently random order. It isn’t really random, as the attorney has planned it this way, but it seems that way to the witness. The witness will expect the attorney to ask things in a particular order, such the chronological order of the events that transpired. Also, asking the same question in two or three different ways can be helpful in producing more accurate responses. This method can be useful when it seems a witness is trying to hold something back or not being entirely truthful.
If one doesn't want the witness to elaborate on a particular point, there are deposition techniques for this as well. The attorney can use a rapid-fire style of questioning that keeps witnesses off guard and rushing to answer the next question. He or she may also go with clear, pointed questions that require a yes or no answer. If one knows the person being deposed has a volatile personality and he or she wants that displayed in court, he or she can use the deposition as a sort of dress rehearsal for trial. A good method is using a variety of provocative methods of questioning in order to find the best approach for getting a rise out of that witness once the attorney gets him or her on the stand.
It is very important to learn of any weak links in the case the opposing party will present. One may choose not to expose such weaknesses but instead to use deposition techniques that cause witnesses to further weaken the case. It may be possible to make a witness admit that he is unsure of his version of events. On the other hand, exposing lack of credibility in the other party’s witnesses or showing evidence to be faulty can be useful too. By making them feel they don’t have a strong case, the attorney may persuade the opposition to reconsider settlement offers.
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