In a probate litigation that you are involved in, you may be required to testify in court as a witness. Always speak to an experienced Midway Utah probate lawyer before you testify in a probate court. The witness’ role in a probate litigation can be described in four scenarios: (1) answering questions, (2) interacting with the examining attorney, (3) collaborating with his or her own attorney, and (4) his or her personal deportment and appearance.
Remember, your Midway Utah probate lawyer will be present. He or she will guide and support you. Your attorney cannot answer for you, but can tell you when you should not answer by objecting to any question deemed inappropriate. It is your right to consult your attorney at any time for direction, explanation, or clarification. This must be a team effort.
Tell the truth and convey that idea in each response. Never lie! Remember that you are under oath. Lying under oath is perjury—a felony, a crime. Each answer must be as truthful and as accurate as possible. Do not attempt to distort or hide the facts; this could impeach your credibility and severely compromise your defense. Be sincere, open, and forthright at all times. Do not equivocate or try to manipulate the facts in such a way as to present yourself or your case in a more favorable light. Never admit any liability or blame! Never mention that an incident report was prepared. Make no attempt to justify your actions or decisions, or propose your rationale for them. Offer no excuses for any of your actions. Unless asked, do not mention the names of any other persons. Never blame or accuse others. Do not make denigrating remarks about others.
Do not make prejudicial comments of any kind. Do not try to evade a question or change the subject. Make each answer as positive as possible. Do not state dates, times, or any other facts or data unequivocally if you are not absolutely certain of them. Avoid such words as [always] and [never]. Do not give an opinion in answer to a question unless you have been deposed as an expert witness. If specific facts are requested, answer only to the extent of your direct knowledge of such facts. Do not substantially change an answer without good reason. Qualify, explain, or expand an answer only if it is absolutely necessary. Avoid such qualifying statements as [maybe], [possibly], [if, [perhaps], [to tell the truth], [honestly], [I think], [might have], and other such vague phrases. Do not speculate, theorize, or hypothesize. Never make assumptions. Never guess!
If you are asked to approximate, estimate, or guess, phrase your response so that it is clearly qualified as such. State directly if you do not know an answer or that you do not remember. Say: [I do not know] or [I do not remember]. These are acceptable, truthful, and appropriate answers. Never say what you do not know.
Answer the question asked and only that question. Do not give the opposing attorney more information than is required by the question. Doing so could provide ideas for a new line of questioning. Do not volunteer any information. The whole purpose of the deposition is to make the examining attorney [discover] the facts. Make the examining attorney ask questions. You are not there to educate the examining attorney or present him or her with any advantage. Do not fall into the [pregnant pause] trap. If the examining attorney reacts to your answer with a long expectant silence, ignore it. Answer each question in as few words as possible. The best answer is the briefest, most direct. A succinct [yes] or [no] is usually adequate and always advisable. Be direct and to the point in answering each question. Each answer should be as concise and as unambiguous as possible. Do not respond to a question with any information or data of which you do not have firsthand knowledge.
You can provide hearsay information if this is requested but only if it is clearly identified as such. Do not attempt to answer until the attorney has finished the question. Confirm to yourself that you fully understand the question before attempting to answer it. Do not allow yourself to be pressured or rushed in answering. Do not let the examining attorney force a [yes] or [no] answer; say what you must say to answer the question completely. Take as much time as you need to formulate your response. Pause for a moment or two before answering. This provides your attorney time to object to a question that may be inappropriate. An objection is your signal to immediately stop answering a question. If a question is ambiguous or unclear, ask that it be clarified, repeated, or rephrased. You do not have to say why.
If the question is long, convoluted, complex, or compound, request that it be simplified. You do not have to say why. Do not anticipate questions. You may be reasonably certain of what is going to be asked next. Wait until it is asked. If the examining attorney attempts to cut you off, affirm that you have not finished speaking, and continue your answer. If he or she persists, remain silent and wait for your own attorney to present the question to you again in their examination. Correct what you believe to be any errors in facts stated by opposing counsel. Respectfully challenge any erroneous assumptions. Be alert for a series of leading questions in quick succession. Be alert for hypothetical questions; these are for the expert witness only, not the fact witness. Do not answer questions by gestures or by nodding or shaking your head. All responses must be oral, audible, and clear so that they can be accurately recorded in the transcript. Avoid the use of slang, jargon, idioms; use proper grammar.
Do not rely on your memory; it may lead to errors or contradictions. Utilize the medical record and any other resources as necessary. Take your time in finding any document you need. If you must use medical or scientific terms, be sure you use the correct term in the correct context. You may be asked to spell such terms—be prepared. Ask to examine any document that opposing counsel refers to in framing a question. If you are given documents or other items to examine or identify, do so very carefully before answering any questions. If you have been deposed and are testifying as a nurse expert witness, do not readily accept the opposition’s cited authors as the sole authorities on the subject.
Do not be intimidated. Take control! Keep your wits about you. Do your best to maintain your self-control. Do not get excited or upset. Try very hard not to lose your temper and become visibly angry.
Do not let yourself become sarcastic, testy, or irritable. The opposing attorney may do his or her utmost to rattle you and provoke you. This is a test to see how well you will stand up in a courtroom before a jury. Stay calm. You will be challenged; do not react in kind. Maintain your composure, even when being blatantly provoked. Be assertive but not aggressive. Do not take an overly offensive or defensive stance. Defend yourself, your dignity, and your rights. Confirm that you will not be bullied or intimidated. Be extremely cautious of overly agreeing with the examining attorney. Do not become inordinately friendly with the opposing attorney. Remember this person is an adversary. He or she is not your personal enemy but is not your friend. Be polite, courteous, and respectful. Look directly at the attorney when you are being asked a question and when answering. Never argue. You can not win. You can challenge, dispute, or disregard, but do not allow yourself to be drawn into an argument. The deposition must not turn into a battle of wits or egos. Remember, this is not a platform for debate. The experienced trial attorney has an undeniable edge here. Play to beat the attorney at his or her own game. Do not make it easy for him or her!
As a general rule, never sit beside your attorney when being questioned. Request that you be seated so that your attorney is directly in your view. Do not turn and look to your attorney for help in answering a question. He or she cannot do this in a deposition or a trial. A deponent is expected to answer each question spontaneously as best as he or she can, and in his or her own words. Constantly looking toward your attorney may prompt a criticism or a challenge from the examining attorney, who may accuse you of uncertainty, lack of conviction, lack of self-confidence, or of hiding something. Stop speaking immediately whenever your attorney interjects. Listen very carefully to any objection being made by your attorney. It may provide clues to an appropriate answer.
As necessary, you can write notes to your attorney, or quietly ask questions while sitting at the table. Do not communicate with your attorney when someone else—attorney or deponent—is speaking. It is not advisable to ask your attorney questions or make any statements regarding the case that could be overheard by opposing counsel or by any one else.
Maintain your self-control at all times. Remember: It is your deposition! Be honest and credible. Be positive. Present yourself as a professional at all times. Look and act confident. Exude competence. Be cordial, polite, and civil throughout the proceedings. Try to be as relaxed as possible. Do not embellish or exaggerate. Do not emote—no hyperbole, theatrics, histrionics. Never allow yourself to appear weak, apologetic, repentant. Do not play for sympathy. You will get none of it here. Do not whine or complain. Do not appear cavalier or overly casual. Do not surrender under a salvo of interrogation. Be organized, come prepared. Be knowledgeable, but do not be pedantic. Unless you are an expert witness, you are not there to teach. Try not to sound [rehearsed], [coached], or [canned]. Speak only when spoken to during your examination. As a general rule, do not interrupt another. Speak slowly, clearly, and loud enough for all present to hear you. Stop speaking when your attorney or opposing counsel begins speaking (unless the latter is interrupting you). Your body language will speak volumes about you. Always be aware of your posture, movements, and facial expressions. Do not testify with your arms crossed. This could indicate a defensive, hostile posture.
Make yourself as comfortable as possible before you start. Sit up straight; sit still. You may hold something in your hand, but hold it still. Avoid touching yourself or your clothing unnecessarily or too frequently. Do not look at your watch; this can convey the impression of impatience. Do not try to be amusing, tell jokes, or quip. This is not the time for it. Make a best effort to appear very interested even when the proceedings may become very boring. Remain alert and attentive, particularly when you are being questioned or when another deponent is testifying. You may look around during pauses but always keep your gaze up. Do not sit staring abjectly at the table or at the floor. Do not allow yourself to be intimidated by the presence of the plaintiff and/or the plaintiff’s family. They may have been instructed to sit in your line of sight and stare hostilely at you.
Deponent’s Personal Appearance
How a witness presents himself or herself can make a favorable or unfavorable impression in a videotaped deposition or live—before a jury. The witness should:
• Appear neat and well groomed;
• dress for and act the role of a professional;
• wear conservative, comfortable clothing;
• not wear excess or oversized jewelry;
• and not reek of perfume or aftershave lotion.
Hire the Services of an expert – An experienced Midway Utah probate lawyer
Utah probate law is complex. You must never attempt to navigate the complex maze of probate laws and rules alone. Seek the assistance of an experienced Midway Utah probate lawyer.
Midway Utah Probate Lawyer Free Consultation
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506