Deposition transcripts are lengthy, often running into hundreds of pages of transcribed conversations. Depositions are used at trial to impeach a witness. The deposition testimony of the witness is taken by the attorney, and a court reporter would record the entire deposition word-for-word. The transcript is sent to the concerned attorneys once the deposition is over. Depositions need to be summarized so that an overview of the facts is obtained for pretrial preparation. A deposition summary has to be objective or unbiased, without any personal interpretations or comments on the part of the summarizer. Attorneys utilize deposition summary services to ensure a reliable and accurate summary they can use to good effect.
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What are the distinguishing features of a good deposition summary?
- It will present the deponent’s testimony in an accurate and concise format.
- It will contain the name of the witness, case name, date, and a table of contents or index.
- All relevant details that the attorney may need are included in the summary.
- The summary will contain
- All important statements made by the witness
- Page and line number of the statement
- Details of exhibits in the case
- The context of the material will not be altered and no crucial facts will be left out.
- A good deposition summarizer will avoid editorializing the summary.
- There will be no repetitions or superfluous text.
- The information provided in the summary will correspond to the original lines and pages of the deposition. This will enable readers to easily reference the verbatim transcript.
- For more ease of understanding, a good summary may present key points using graphs or charts.
- A good deposition summary will highlight significant testimony and potential causes for witness impeachment.
- The best summaries are well formatted. Typically, 2 columns are created and the one on the left would be around 1/4th of the total width of the page. In this format, the line and page numbers can be included in the smaller margin space on the left, and the date, witness names, case identifiers and summary can be included in the right column.
When drafting a deposition summary, the focus must be on its purpose which can be any of the following.
- Describing the witness’ deposition for the insurer or adjuster
- Preparing additional discovery
- Assisting attorneys who may have been absent at the deposition
- Preparing other depositions of the same case
- Enabling the witness to recollect the various aspects before the hearing or trial
- Helping attorneys prepare motions and evidence more effectively
- Assisting with trial preparation
Let us look at the deposition summary formats that are commonly used.
Deposition summaries can be prepared in 3 different formats – chronological, page-line, and topic-by-topic. A chronological summary is useful especially in personal injury and criminal cases. A page-line summary is also called a page-by-page summary, wherein the summary is aligned with the page-line and exhibit reference. Cases involving financial transactions and commercial litigation would find this type of summary useful. The third type of summary, topical or topic-by-topic summary gives a quick synopsis of the deposition based on the subject/topic, or the legal conditions/elements to be corroborated in court. Workers’ compensation and auto accident attorneys may prefer this format because the summary can be organized based on accident facts.
The value of a reliable, well-drafted, deposition summary cannot be overstated. During the litigation process, insurers, clients, adjusters will all want to review the summary. Attorneys find these summaries immensely useful to prepare for pretrial motions, trial witness exams, and additional depositions. As a condensed, impartial, and accurate synopsis of the main points in a deposition transcript, a deposition summary makes it very easy to identify the essential details and validate the same with the verbatim transcript. Accuracy is an absolute necessity when summarizing deposition transcripts. Expertise in litigation, good English writing skills, and excellent logical sense are all key when it comes to delivering top quality deposition summaries. That is why attorneys prefer to utilize the deposition summary services provided by an experienced medical review company. This ensures that the summary is prepared by a team of experts who are skilled in reviewing, identifying and presenting the most germane facts associated with a case. This team will make sure that the attorney is provided with an easier means of accessing the deposition transcript without losing any significant information.