Many times court rules allow witnesses who have given sworn deposition testimony the right to review and make changes to their answers. Changes in spelling and other minor things of that nature are one type of correction. Additions to answers or even substantive changes (things that are important) can also be made but sometimes require that reasons for the changes be listed. Without getting into the nuances of procedural rules and cases that deal with the nature and extent of such corrections, they provide additional protection because if the witness is questioned about their testimony their corrections can be read with their original response to hopefully give everyone a better opportunity to understand what they are trying to say. But as a practical matter here are some preliminary points (based on our experiences) to consider:
- If local rules provide that it must be done, a witness or their lawyer should indicate their intent to review and potentially make corrections before the deposition is concluded.
- Lawyers should send transcripts to their clients with instructions on how and when (how long they have) to make corrections. Usually we find the parties agreeable to giving witnesses thirty (3) days to make their corrections.
- Witnesses should READ the transcripts and make corrections or note questions as they do so. If the deposition was lengthy, this can be done over several days so as to keep alert and avoid fatigue.
- Any questions can be brought to the attention of the witness’ attorney. Lawyers can assist witnesses to a point with technical questions and can even help the witness prepare (type) their changes (if any) in a form that is proper. Communications between lawyers and their clients concerning deposition corrections remain privileged.
- The final changes have to be submitted to stenographers or the attorneys or both and copies kept with the transcripts.
- A witness can note which questions have been corrected or supplemented on the pages of the transcript that they reviewed and if questioned about answers at hearings or trial will be able to readily remember and state that a particular answer has had corrections.
Before we even get to those points, the witness has to be willing to read the transcript, reflect on his or her answer, and actually take the time to note changes. Unfortunately, a significant percentage of witnesses seem to either never be aware of their right to seek to make corrections or choose to ignore the process. Laziness about or inattention to any stage of the litigation process can cause the loss of valuable rights and opportunities – and this is as true with the deposition process as it is with anything else. Anyone represented by a lawyer should ask their lawyer about this part of the deposition process and discuss whether they will review and make corrections before a deposition begins. Our clients and others know they can contact John Reilly by telephone at 401-272-2800 or e-mail for a consultation about this process so that they can fully protect their rights.