Drafting Deposition Summaries - Do's & Don'ts
Depositions are an important part of civil litigation. It is one of the tools used during the discovery process, and provides a verbatim testimony of witnesses, which can be later used at the trial. Summarizing deposition testimonies into crisp, concise, and accurate summaries is not an easy task and should be approached seriously.
This article provides some pointers to keep in mind while drafting deposition summaries.
It’s always helpful to read through the pleadings before starting on a summary. This will provide the drafter more clarity and focus. Read through the complaint when the deposition being summarized is that of the plaintiff or plaintiff's witness. On the other hand, read through the answer if the deposition being summarized is that of the defendant or the defendant's witness. While reading, pay close attention to the allegations put forth in the pleadings and the supporting facts.
Attorneys ask a number of questions during a deposition. All of them may not be relevant, and there can be repetitions. A deposition summary should reference only the integral parts of the litigant's deposition. This requires the drafter to review the entire testimony with a keen eye, analyze it, take down notes, and then prudently decide on the essential points that are made. Sometimes the attorneys may also require the drafter to look for specific testimony and note it in the summary. Ensure that all the relevant points are noted in the deposition summary and overlook extraneous points. For example, during trial a witness testifies on oath that s/he had previously been deposed in another case regarding the same matter. This information is relevant and needs to be included because a witness' prior testimony in the case may be used to discredit his/her present testimony if found inconsistent. On the other hand, noting down what time the witness went to sleep or ate breakfast may not be relevant. The context and circumstances need to be taken into consideration to wisely decide what needs to be included and what needs to be scrapped.
Remember, an attorney wants a deposition transcript summarized because s/he does not want to lose precious time pouring over lengthy testimonies. Therefore, brevity and accuracy are of prime importance. Ensure that there is no repetitive and/or extra text. The prime goal of summarizing a deposition is to make the document concise by bringing out all the important points. Normally, a well-drafted deposition summary should contain no more than one page of summary for every five pages of testimony. However, there is no fixed limit set for the summaries.
Be sure to include certain details noted in the transcript that may be useful or helpful for the attorney. For example, include the breaks noted in a transcript since an attorney may recollect that the witness made a pertinent statement just before the break. Therefore, noting the break will help the attorney easily locate the relevant part in the summary.
The presentation of the summary should be easy to read and help the attorney readily find relevant and required information in the transcript. You can provide the summary in a two-column format with a narrow column on the left and a wide column on the right. Provide the page and line numbers in the left column and a summary of the relevant testimony in the corresponding right column. Also, remember to include the name of the witness, case name, and date. If needed, a table of contents or index can also be included, especially if it’s a voluminous document. Last, but not least, a drafter should always keep in mind that the primary purpose of the summary is to help attorneys find the required information in the transcript with ease and to save time. It should never be a reproduction of the entire deposition transcript.
At Nora.Legal, we understand how to write these deposition summaries. Our legal staff is highly trained in the drafting of complaints, appeals, pleadings, briefs, dispositive motions, discovery, contracts, and jury questionnaires. Nora.Legal is here to listen to your requirements and help you bring the right people on board. Plus we’re great at it! You can learn more about our services at . Try out a project with us today!