Depositions play an important role in litigation. Parties to civil cases routinely engage in the discovery process before settling a case or going to trial. Discovery involves the exchange of information and evidence between the parties to allow each party to prepare for trial. A deposition is one of the most common types of discovery that a civil litigation attorney may use.
A deposition allows an attorney to ask questions of a person is under oath. A notice of a deposition may request a party to bring to the deposition certain documents, such as records or other materials, including information stored electronically.
Most depositions are conducted orally, with a court reporter present to record every question, objection, and answer. Some depositions may also be videotaped.
Both parties and witnesses may be deposed. A notice of deposition is sufficient to compel a party to give testimony. A witness who is not a party to the lawsuit must be subpoenaed to testify.
The civil litigation attorneys at Evans Kingsbury can guide you through the discovery phase of your civil lawsuit, including defending you during a deposition and taking depositions of other parties and witnesses. Here are five important things that you should know about depositions:
- You can take a deposition of a party, non-party, natural person, or entity. For example, attorneys commonly take the deposition of the adverse party in a civil lawsuit to determine what their testimony will be at trial. However, they may also take the deposition of witnesses who likely will be unfriendly or hostile at trial. In addition to individual witnesses, under California Code of Civil Procedure § 2025.010, attorneys can take the deposition of the following entities by deposing a current officer, director, managing agent, or employee of the following:
- Organizations, such as public or private corporations,
- Governmental agencies
- You don’t need the permission of the court to take someone’s deposition. Under Code of Civil Procedure §2025.220 you are not required to get a court order or even notify the court that you are taking someone’s deposition in a court case. A plaintiff, or a party who has sued someone, can serve a notice of a deposition on any party without leave of court on any date more than 20 days after the service of summons on or appearance by any defendant. Likewise, a defendant, or a party who has been sued by someone, can serve a notice of deposition at any time after they have been served or entered an appearance in the case, whichever happens first.
- There is no limit on the number of questions you can ask during a deposition. Although Code of Civil Procedure §2025.290 imposes a seven-hour time limit on the length of depositions in most cases, there are no limits on the number of questions an attorney can ask the person being deposed. This is because California law limits written forms of questions during the discovery process but not on questions asked during depositions.
- California law places limits on how far a person has to travel for a deposition. Under Code of Civil Procedure §2025.250 unless a court orders otherwise, the deposition of a natural person, whether or not that person is a party to the case, must occur either within 75 miles of the person’s residence or in the county in which the case is filed and within 150 miles of the person’s residence. In addition, if the deposition to be taken is of an organization that is a party to the case, it must occur within 75 miles of the organization’s principal or executive business office in California or within the county where the case is pending and within 150 miles of that office. Suppose the organization has no such office in California. In that case, the deposition must occur within the county in which the case is pending or within 75 miles of any executive or business office in California of the organization.
- You must give the person to be deposed a certain amount of notice of the deposition. Generally, an oral deposition cannot occur less than ten days after personal service of the deposition notice under Code of Civil Procedure §2025.270 or 15 days after mail service under Code of Civil Procedure §1013. However, the deposition of a non-party witness can occur within a “sufficient time” after service of the deposition notice to provide the witness with a reasonable time to locate and produce requested documents and evidence and travel to the deposition site under Code of Civil Procedure §2020.220.
Learn More About How We Can Assist You With Depositions and Litigation
At Evans Kingsbury, LLP, our civil litigation lawyers are never afraid to take on complex court cases against all types of opponents. We have the skills and experience to achieve positive results for our clients in all types of civil legal disputes. Our attorneys will listen to your concerns, answer your questions, and represent your interests in court. You can set up a time to speak with us by calling (707) 596-6090 or contacting us online today.