When a lawsuit is filed, each party has the right to take the deposition of the other party or third parties they anticipate may be called as a witness.
What is a Deposition
A deposition is similar to being on the witness stand in a trial; you are asked questions by the attorney calling you as a witness (direct examination) and the other attorney or party, if they are not represented, has the opportunity to ask their questions (cross examination).
Working with an Attorney for Deposition
The difference is that the deposition takes place at an attorney’s office with everyone sitting at a conference room table. The questions and answers are recorded by a court reporter, who will later provide a written transcript of the questions and answers for a fee. Like court, you are sworn in by the court reporter so that all responses are being given under oath. Depositions are not limited in time; they can take as long as is needed to ask all the questions both sides feel are appropriate to ask.
Exhibits may also be used at the deposition, just as they are used in court (such as emails, medical records, photographs, etc.)
North Carolina Procedure for Deposition in Divorce
The North Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure sets out the time frame in which notice should be provided to the parties of the lawsuit. In addition, if a witness is having their deposition taken (not a party), they can be subpoenaed to bring documents or things to their deposition. This is helpful when taking the deposition of a professional, such as a physician. If a party is being requested to produce documents or things at a deposition, they are required to do as a request for production of documents, another method of discovery (methods under the North Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure where information is exchanged between parties ((or third persons in some cases.))
Depositions for Credibility
Depositions are very useful in that they give the attorney a “preview” of how the witness may testify in court and also ascertain additional information that can be helpful in preparing for trial they would not otherwise be able to obtain in some cases. The transcript can also be used at trial because, since the answers are given under oath, the witness can no longer change their answer at trial once it was given at the deposition without appearing to be dishonest. A logical reason would have to justify a change of answer from a deposition to testifying in trial to avoid losing credibility as a witness. Depositions are very useful as well because this is a chance to get information from a party or witness that has not been filtered through an attorney, other than the attorney have an opportunity to object to a question that may violate the North Carolina Rules of Evidence.
Should a Deposition be Used for All Divorce Cases?
If depositions are so helpful, why are they not utilized in every litigation case? They are quite expensive. In addition to paying for your attorney’s time, you must also pay for the court reporter’s time and for the transcript preparation.
For the court reporter and transcript expense alone, you can spend anywhere from $800 to $1,500.00 depending on the length of the deposition. Because of the cost, depositions may not be a practical tool to use to obtain information for your case. If this is the case, there are other methods of discovery that can be used that do not have such a significant financial investment.
Contact a Raleigh Divorce Lawyer to Discuss Depositions
If you have questions about depositions, or would like to discuss whether this is a good tool to use in your case, our attorneys are available to consult with you as to this issue, as well as over all options that are available to ensure you have the case strategy in place for your litigation case.
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