A deposition is the taking of a statement of a witness or party under oath. The deposing party (the "asking" person) may ask the deponent (the "responding" person) questions to obtain information, to discover what the party knows about a situation or event, and to determine what their testimony would be at trial. Although depositions may be written or oral, this guide will only discuss the taking of oral depositions.
Each party may conduct one deposition of each other party. This limit is imposed to prevent parties from using the deposition process as a tool of harassment, and to make each party effectively use their deposition. Parties may also conduct depositions of any relevant witnesses in the case. A party may only conduct one deposition of any individual, though.
Taking an oral deposition is very expensive and time-consuming. The party requesting a deposition is responsible for paying all costs and fees related to the deposition. With hiring a court reporter, transcribing the reporter's stenography, paying witness fees, and travel expenses, etc., a short deposition can cost several hundred dollars or more! Although depositions are expensive, they can be a very effective discovery tool. In many cases, the benefits can far outweigh the costs.
The Judicial Council forms commonly used in this procedure are:
In addition, one relevant document must be typed on 28-line pleading paper. A customizable template may be downloaded from this link:
Click below to download a step-by-step guide with sample forms and instructions:
Discovery: Depositions Step by Step.