Depositions : Avoiding bad Q&A

This blog is about recognizing and avoiding bad questions and answers during a deposition or trial. Assisting your client in refreshing their memory regarding facts pertinent to the case is important but that’s just the start of what is in store for the preparation of your witness for upcoming deposition or trial.  You also need to prepare your client for problem areas of questioning.  In this blog we have listed some problem questions and how to react and answer them properly during the course of a deposition of your client:

Compound Questions

Compound questions, which incorporate two questions in one, such as, “Do you smoke marijuana every day or just once a week,”,  the first question in this statement is “Do you smoke marijuana”,  and if yes, is it every day or just once a week , this form of  questioning is very deceptive and dangerous because a yes- or-no answer can be interpreted as an affirmative response to the underlying predicate.

Questions in Absolute Terms

Whenever an attorney uses such terms as, “Do you always” or, “Have you never,” they are attempting to lock your client into absolute terms. There is nothing wrong with being absolutely sure, you just want to make sure that that is in fact the case.

Exaggerations

There is nothing that more quickly undermines a claim or gives rise to the all-popular defense mantra of “secondary gain” than needless exaggeration.

Opinions

Stay factual!  Do not guess and do not speculate.  You do not have to have an answer to every question, and that is okay.  You are only human.

“Would It Be Fair to Say…”

Anytime a witness hears a question prefaced with such a line, they should make sure they in fact agree with the proposition set forth in the question, as this is often unfair to the witness.

For more information on this topic we recommend reading The five worst things to do during cross-examination.

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