Academic journal article The Government Accountants Journal

Preparing for a Deposition

Academic journal article The Government Accountants Journal

Preparing for a Deposition

Article excerpt

Since the passage of the Inspector General Act in 1978, our role as government auditors has expanded and taken on new meaning. The work produced in this expanded role can find its way into various legal proceedings. As a result, the audit working papers and all related materials can be requested, copied and examined during discovery proceedings. Once the audit materials have been examined, the auditors, audit manager and other officials in the auditing office may be required to give depositions on the evidence compiled and results derived from the audit.

Now the fun begins.

Webster's dictionary defines a deposition as "a declaration: testimony taken down in writing under oath." I recently found myself in the position of being required to give a deposition regarding an audit performed under my direction approximately four years ago. Webster's definition is an accurate description of what transpires during a deposition, but it far from tells the whole story. Simply stated, the person being deposed gives sworn testimony in much the same manner as if they were testifying in court. The person being deposed will normally be notified in writing that they have been scheduled for a deposition.

You have the right to be represented by legal counsel during the deposition. Legal counsel for the party requesting your deposition can ask you questions about your qualifications, your role in the audit and the facts supporting your conclusions and recommendations. In my case, legal counsel was provided by the Department of Justice. It goes without saying that you should answer the questions asked as honestly and carefully as possible. More than likely, a reporter will either record or write down everything that transpires during the deposition. A transcript of the proceedings is usually prepared and distributed to legal counsel representing each side, which then becomes an official document in the case and can be used by either or both parties during subsequent proceedings.

Depositions are an important legal tool, as they can play a key role in an upcoming trial. Some people may think depositions are a waste of time because the questions will probably be repeated if the case goes to trial, but there are some good reasons for depositions. First, they sometimes eliminate the need for a trial. If the case does go to trial, depositions can save time and money by shortening the trial through the elimination of details which have no bearing on the case.

Another reason for taking depositions is to have a record of important witness testimony in case something happens to prevent their appearance at the trial. Finally, a deposition is important because it represents a certain set of facts as one witness believed and swore them to be.

Before the formal deposition proceedings begin, the person deposing will usually meet with legal counsel, in an informal setting, to prepare for the deposition. This preparation may include detailing general background information on your education, qualifications, experience and involvement in the case being adjudicated. …

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