5 deposition tricks to recognize

Since fraud investigators may participate in case-related court proceedings, here are tips from a pair of articles in The Jury Expert on dealing with deposition tactics and managing bias against witnesses.

A common mistake in depositions is saying too much in an effort to tell the whole truth. But "[t]he job of a witness is to provide the information asked, not to engage in a 'brain dump' of everything they know," The Jury Expert noted. "Witnesses who stay focused on the question not only help their case, but they also help keep their depositions shorter--the less they volunteer, the fewer rabbit holes the opposing attorneys can go down." In light of this, recognize five common interview tactics:

1. Pseudo-friendliness

Be careful of informal chat started by opposing counsel on breaks and off camera, the article advises. This is often meant to disarm witnesses.

2. Long pauses between questions

Some lawyers deliberately pause between questions to create uncomfortable silence. In what's called "the disorganized Columbo approach," lawyers may pretend to be fumbling for paperwork or their next question. This can pressure witnesses to fill the silence with talk even though their last answer was complete.

3. Playing dumb

Competent attorneys thoroughly research the case topic or are experts in it, the article stated, but sometimes they present themselves as novices. Moving witnesses into teacher mode can result in over-disclosure.

4. Responding with shock or disbelief

Surprised retorts to answers can cause witnesses to defend what they said by offering more information.

5. Asking many versions of the same question

Capitalizing on desire for the deposition to end, this tactic can frustrate people into answering sarcastically or offering new information.

When testifying in court, it's also important to know that women may be perceived differently than men, according to another Jury Expert article. Though "triers of fact [should] look at the power of experts' data and opinions rather than their gender," stereotypes can affect an expert's credibility and the outcome of a case, the article noted. So it pays to be aware of them.

Unlikable male experts were viewed more positively than unlikable female experts in a 2012 study, the article noted. Therefore, men may want to maintain eye contact to boost credibility and appear assertive, while women may want to focus on appearing likeable, limit jargon and use inclusive language.

"Women experts may fare poorly if they are not viewed as both likeable and competent, and this may be because such women are perceived as violating gender expectations," the article stated.

For more:
- read The Jury Expert articles on deposition tricks and the influence of gender in court proceedings