By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm:
Trial is coming up, the witness is told: "Be at the courthouse by 7:30 Monday morning, meet us in the office on Friday, and oh, remember to carefully review your deposition." The court date might be a relief after a long wait, the meetings with counsel should help to add focus and calm your nerves, but the reading and the rereading of the deposition? That seems like "homework," a chore, or the forced reliving of a bad experience. But it is actually one of the most important steps, and a stage in the preparation process that the witness can fully control and master. As I like to say, a knowledge of your deposition -- not just a general knowledge, but a deep and specific knowledge -- should be your sword and your shield in your trial testimony. It should be a defense against the traps and tricks of impeachment, and it should be an offense in letting you know exactly where you can confidently expand upon what you said in your deposition.
But witnesses frequently miss that opportunity by reviewing the deposition only a little rather than a lot. I've written previously about the demonstrated advantage in "overlearning" the deposition, or continuing to review it past the point of general familiarity. In this post, I'll provide some further thoughts on the reasons and ways that additional knowledge can play both a protective and proactive role in helping your testimony during trial. Specifically, I think there are three ways a detailed knowledge of your deposition can provide that help during your trial testimony.