In all forms of litigation, civil and criminal, depositions are a common form of “discovery.” Discovery is the process of obtaining information to prepare for trial. In a deposition, an attorney asks questions with the other attorney asking clarification questions to get an accurate answer. With a deposition, it is easy for a party to under- or over-answer questions.
When this or other improper answer occurs, the attorney will object, but the witness can answer unless his or her attorney instructs him not to do so; an example where a litigant would be instructed not to answer is with assertion of a privilege, such as against self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment that can be raised in any civil or criminal matter if the answer might lead to criminal implications.
The common objections are speculative. A lay witness (non-expert) cannot speculate. He or she must have first had knowledge of the question asked. The second objection in the answer is narrative. For example, a question might be “yes” or “no” but the witness proceeds to provide a story or narrate the answer. This is prohibited with proper objection. An evasive answer is the third type of objection. In essence the witness answers every question around the question, but not the question directly. Fourthly, the question may be answered with a non-responsive answer. This is an answer that is not directly or indirectly related to the question asked.1
While the requirement to answer a question directly may be unsettling, the best way to avoid concern is to prepare with your attorney in advance. This will allow for development of relevant questions that might lead to admissible evidence in a complete way. The more one understands about a deposition, the better he or she will do in answering questions and advocating a trial position or that of a witness.
We hope you find this information useful in understanding the current general Indiana law on objections in deposition. This blog post is written by attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. and is for general educational purposes only. It is not legal advice, or solicitation for legal services. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. attorneys handle civil and criminal appeals from all Indiana state trial court, Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, or United States Supreme Court.