By now (and for better or worse), you’ve probably heard of Justin Bieber. Recently, he’s managed to land himself in a lawsuit with a former employee. On March 6, as part of that suit, Bieber was deposed (you can watch the deposition at YouTube).
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 which 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, and the last thing he/she wants is a credible witness – it’s bad for his/her case!
2) If you don’t understand the question, simply ask that the question be repeated. Attorneys are people, too. Oftentimes they ask unclear, poorly worded questions. Heck, I know I do. 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 – that’s bad for your case!
3) You don’t get to decide what questions you have to answer. Depositions are not like court. In court, there are Rules of Evidence that your attorney can employ to prevent irrelevant/improper questions. In depositions, permissible questioning is much more far reaching. In fact, the questions don’t even have to be relevant! If an irrelevant/impermissible question is asked, it’s your attorney’s job to make an assessment as to whether to object to it. And even if he objects (except in very limited circumstances, such as privileged information), you must still answer the question. The quickest way to get sanctioned by a court is for a judge to find out that you didn’t answer a question that you should have.
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. We at BenGlassLaw represent honest clients who have legitimate cases. The quickest way for you to be fired by us (and yes, we have the ability to fire you, too!) is to lie under oath (or at any time, for that matter).
If you have any other questions about depositions, or perhaps you will be deposed soon, BenGlassLaw has a lot of resources to educate you about the deposition process. Give us a call!