Deposition Corrections 101

When a deponent wants to change his or her deposition testimony from what the transcript reflects, there are several factors to consider. Although changing the testimony is per California law, doing so is not always in the best interest of your case. After you receive a transcript of testimony from your court reporter in San Jose and discover that your client needs to make a change, here is what you need to know.

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What are some reasons for correcting depositions?

Generally, the reason to consider changing deposition testimony is to make sure it accurately reflects everything that the deponent knows about the case. If the original testimony left out important details or could otherwise be misinterpreted, correcting it during the deposition review prevents the need for the deponent to have to change his or her testimony during trial. Substantive errors about facts of the case or transcription mistakes that change the meaning of the testimony can all adversely affect a case, even before it gets to trial, if depositions are used in pretrial hearings and negotiations. For these reasons, correcting a deposition that contains errors could be advantageous.

What are the drawbacks of correcting depositions?

Although correcting a deposition prevents the opposing counsel from pointing out inconsistencies in testimony at trial, the need to correct testimony even during the deposition review opens the door for the opposing counsel to call all of that deponent's testimony into question as unreliable. Making corrections could also highlight a weakness in your case that might otherwise have gone unnoticed by the opposing counsel. When you make corrections to any part of a deponent's testimony, you could inadvertently miss small details that should have been updated during the change as well, which can cast the testimony as unreliable overall.

How can you decide whether to correct a deposition?

Correcting small changes, such as typos or other minor transcription errors, is easily accomplished without impacting your case. For more substantive changes, you must weigh the value of correcting the transcript before trial and potentially opening up new challenges in the case to the impact of changing testimony on the stand during the trial.