Depositions upon oral examination are one of the primary tools of discovery in a case. To start, depositions can be upon oral examination or upon written questions. From experience, the latter is quite rare, really does not differ from interrogatories, and lacks the punch and effectiveness of live and in-person questioning.
Depositions upon oral examination are when a party/witness is questioned in person under oath. All other parties typically have a right to be present and ask questions. A court reporter transcribes the proceedings. The reason these types of depositions are favored are because, unlike with the other discovery tools, there is an opportunity to gauge the party’s or witness’s credibility and the answers to the questions are immediate (with interrogatories, there’s usually at least 30 days to craft a response). In light of the importance of oral depositions, it is extremely important that the proper preparation be done with a view toward the underlying substantive legal issues.
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