The recent airing of the deposition by entertainer Justin Bieber is a prime example of what not to do at a deposition. If you have a case of any type and are about to be deposed, you should watch the video of Bieber, and do the opposite at your deposition now that footage of the Bieber deposition testimony has been released and aired nationally.
Bieber seems to clearly ignore the tenets of a deposition. The basic “rules” of how you should conduct yourself as a witness at a deposition include:
- Recognizing that a deposition is not a conversation; it is a formal legal proceeding
- Be precise in your answers
- Keep your answers short
- Never guess
- Do not get angry
- Do not get upset because you do not like the questions being asked
Depositions can be stressful under the best of circumstances. However, there is simply no reason to be a wise guy to the lawyer asking the questions.
As can be seen in the video Bieber loses control. He fails to answer the questions being posed to him, and among other things, he tries to “outsmart” the attorney asking the questions. This is a losing proposition. His lack of control under questioning shows that he can be emotionally rattled. This will serve to guarantee that can damage his case at trial.
It is likely that Bieber chose to ignore the instructions that he was given by his lawyers. A qualified attorney should always spend the time preparing their client for the deposition process. Having an experienced attorney with you during your deposition is imperative as is the pre-deposition preparation. In that preparation, your lawyer should explain that you are required to answer any question the other lawyer may ask regardless of how silly or irrelevant it may seem. Sometimes those types of questions are just used to gauge how you, the witness, will respond. . If a question is truly out of bounds, your lawyer can object and give you an instruction not to answer a question. As can be seen in the Bieber video, he did not respond well to questions he did not want to answer.
As we have written about previously in this blog post explaining the rules of depositions, we went over nine of the most important points for a witness to remember about a deposition and how to act accordingly. The transcript of an actual deposition is included to provide an idea of what the process is like.
For more information watch our short video on the nature of depositions.
Also check out the convenient graph below, “Do’s and Don’ts for Your Deposition.”
Stuart A. Carpey, who has been practicing as an attorney since 1987, focuses his practice on complex civil litigation which includes representing injured individuals in a vast array of personal injury cases.