You may have seen courtroom dramas in movies or on TV in which a witness makes an unexpected statement on the stand or an attorney reveals a piece of evidence that comes as a surprise to the judge and the other lawyer. In reality, however, this sort of “trial by ambush” is frowned upon in court proceedings. In fact, attorneys representing the two sides go through a process of discovery in which they share evidence with one another specifically to avoid this type of dramatic turn.
Part of the discovery process is a deposition. This is an oral statement given by a victim or witness prior to the trial and outside of court. However, the deposition is given under oath, so a deponent who changes his or her story at trial could be charged with perjury.
Depositions are typically given via an oral statement. Video deposition Boston MA is one method of recording the statement so it can be referred to later. There may also be a stenographer present during the deposition to take down what was said. This can be transcribed later so that there is a written record of the statement. A written transcription of a video or audio recording may also be produced.
Written depositions are not preferred because of the difficulty in following up on the answers. However, it may be more convenient for a witness to fill out a form rather than giving a sworn statement. Because it is not necessary for attorneys to be in the room while a written deposition is taking place, it is also less expensive. A written deposition can be helpful when it is not possible or not practical for the witness to give an oral deposition.
While depositions are helpful for discovery, they may not be admissible at trial because they are considered hearsay. However, there are some exceptions, such as when a witness is not available to testify at trial or when the statement given in a deposition is inconsistent with the witness’ eventual testimony in court.