When NOT to Depose a Witness

We’re the first ones to tell you that we want to help our clients with depositions and other court reporting services but if you’ve been around for any length of time, you understand the time, money, and resources it takes to depose a witness. There are times when you may avoid the hassle and simply call them to court to testify.

Let’s start with what it takes to depose a witness.

  • Logistics of conference room time, court reporter availability, and technology like Wi-Fi and/or legal videographer.
  • Expense of logistics plus your time and that of your witnesses and opposing counsel.
  • Time to educate and prepare the witness.
  • Revealing your strategy to the other side before you’re ready.

It’s a bit more involved than a simple cup of coffee with a witness. While there may be times when that’s all it takes to understand their testimony, there are other considerations.

Is the witness friendly to your side and available on the appointed court date?

Avoid the time, money, and resource cost when you’ve got a witness who is friendly and available on the appointed court date. Spend that time with expert witnesses or even on other cases. If, over time, you sense the witness isn’t as friendly as you thought, you can always depose them later.

Is the witness a material part of the case, especially if criminal?

The type of case and witness’ role may determine if they are deposed or not. If it is a criminal case, you may be more likely than in a civil case. You likely don’t want to be caught having to cross examine a witness in a criminal case that you never deposed. While there are attorneys who love this challenge, you may not be one of them!

Do you want to promote a settlement in the case?

Be strategic in who you depose. Keep in mind witnesses who could change the case to your client’s favor or bring a settlement. You may be able to ask questions that reveal evidence even if the witness is testifying for the other side. In this case, you merely requesting deposition can prompt a settlement offer.

While you always have your client’s interest in mind, you can also be strategic about when you depose a witness. If you can save time, money, and resources, it benefits your firm. As Pittsburgh court reporters, we know there will always be more work for us!

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