I want to thank my colleague, Stacey L. Zill, for this week's legal portion.
Having your deposition taken can not only be stressful, but it can mark a critical turning point in the litigation because it presents an opportunity to make a favorable impression with the opposition. During the deposition process, opposing counsel is no doubt assessing you as a witness at trial. Will a jury find you believable? Will a jury find you likeable? Are you well-spoken? "Yes" answers translate into a possible early settlement on more favorable terms. To take full advantage of the deposition opportunity, and manage the stress, you need to be prepared.
Getting prepared for a deposition starts with understanding whether you have any physical requirements or limitations. As a start, eat a healthy breakfast. Depositions can be an all day event and you do not want hunger to be a distraction. If you know you must snack every couple of hours, take medication during the day or experience low blood sugar levels, bring snack items, medication or sugar pills with you to the deposition and exercise your right to take a break. If you feel like a full day deposition will be too tiring, speak with your attorney about breaking up the deposition into several sessions. While it may be inconvenient, it is better then offering imprecise or incorrect responses.
Whether you are appearing for the deposition as a company representative or as an individual, it is important to understand the mechanics of the deposition process. An important rule of thumb is to make sure you understand the question asked and to provide a succinct, responsive answer. Your response should be narrowly focused to address what is being asked. You are there to answer the questions asked, not to volunteer information. If you do not understand the question, ask the questioning attorney to rephrase it. When responding, do not speculate or guess. "I don't know" and "I don't recall" are perfectly acceptable responses. When you are meeting with your attorney to prepare for your deposition, make sure that your attorney reviews, and you understand, these and the other deposition rules.
If you know that the deposition is going to be videotaped, or there is some concern about unintended messages being delivered through your body language, your attorney may incorporate videotaping into your deposition preparation session. If your testimony is fundamental to the case, a mock videotaped deposition can be a helpful tool to understanding exactly what is being communicated by you - verbally and non-verbally - when responding to questions.
Deposition preparation definitely has its rewards. (This article is intended to simply highlight some of the more basic deposition preparation techniques. Should you need more detailed information or have any questions, always feel free to contact us.)
Now for the Opening Day memory...
This week's Opening Day memories come from Jerry Reuss, best known (at least by me) as a starting pitcher (in this order) for the St. Louis Cardinals, Houston Astros, Pittsburgh Pirates and Los Angeles Dodgers, where he had his best years. In his 22 year career, which spanned from 1969-1990, Jerry also pitched for four other teams. I defy any of you to name them all correctly without looking at his baseball card or some other reference. The highlights of Jerry's career include a no-hitter for the Dodgers against the Giants in 1980 and a World Series victory against the Yankees in the Dodgers 1981 World Championship year. He also was the first opposing pitcher I ever saw live at Dodger Stadium when he was with the Pirates. Jerry was very supportive of my efforts with respect to an Opening Day book. He even volunteered to let me use photos that he took during a Randy Johnson/Kevin Brown Opening Day at Dodger Stadium. I never took him up on that offer, but who knows what may happen in the future. Here are Jerry's Opening Day memories.
"One of my Opening Day memories is a game where you won't find my name in the box score. It happened in 1981. A little background first. In 1980, I was comeback player of the year. I won 18 games for the Dodgers and led the league with 6 shutouts. In 1979 I had been 7-14, so I was quite excited about the prospects for 1981. With Tommy Lasorda, if you do well for him, he'll reward you, and he bestowed upon me the honor of starting Opening Day. I was excited about this because I knew growing up I wanted to pitch for the Dodgers or the Yankees and now I was playing for one of them and achieved the elevated status of Opening Day starter. About a week to 10 days before we broke camp, I noticed I was having some problems with a calf muscle - I'm not sure which leg - but I guess I had strained a muscle. I must have overworked those muscles in the soft turf in Vero Beach and it became more nagging as spring training dissipated. We got to Los Angeles and played the Freeway Series, and then the day before the Opener against the Astros, during a routine workout, I went after a fly ball in the outfield and I felt it yank - I felt a small little pop. And at that point I realized I wasn't going to make that Opening Day start. It created a little bit of a problem for Tommy, though. Burt Hooton, who also had a great 1980, had an in-grown toenail removed, so he couldn't make the Opening Day start. And Bobby Welch had just thrown batting practice so he wasn't available either. The only one Tommy had left was a rookie who had pitched just 18 innings in relief in 1980, a kid by the name of Fernando Valenzuela. He got the start because of my injury, and all he did was go out and pitch a five hit shut out and excite the crowd as never before. Yes, I helped create Fernando-mania!"
I just want to add that many Dodger players from this era who I interviewed named the 1981 Fernando Valenzuela start as their most memorable Opening Day and former Dodger General Manager Fred Claire shared his memories about this game in a March 27, 2002 column he wrote which he graciously sent me. On another note, Fred's book "My 30 Years in Dodger Blue" is a great read, although the events of Fred's departure from the Dodgers are tragic, and the current state of that organization is even more so.
See you all in two weeks. Richie