Why Choose a Neutral Site for Legal Depositions?

Published: 27th August 2010
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When civil lawsuits reach a certain point in the process, it is time for attorneys on both sides to take depositions. This is their opportunity to find out what witnesses that may be called to testify for the other side knows about the case. A location must be agreed upon by both attorneys. This can be a simple process or one more thing to argue about, depending on the tenor of the case.

The Basics

Lawyers are not allowed to simply call up potential witnesses for the opposing side and ask them questions without the other attorney present. Instead, a very formal question and answer session takes place. Both the plaintiff and defendant in the case are allowed to be present. Their attorneys are also present. A deposition reporter or officer of the court places the witness under oath and records everything using a stenography machine. The transcript is later prepared if someone orders and pays for it. While a deposition is not held in court, it has the same seriousness associated with it. Any misconduct can be brought to the attention of a judge and punished if the Court sees fit.


Some lawsuits are more contentious and bitter than others. While some depositions are treated as a civil exchange of information, others are a tense ordeal rippled with uncooperative witnesses, objections by lawyers and insinuations of intimidation and unfairness. Parties to the lawsuit and those with close ties to them are often nervous and uncomfortable with the legal deposition process. This is one reason why a neutral site is usually chosen for a deposition to take place. This puts both sides on even footing and does not give the impression of someone having to go into the lion’s lair to be interrogated.


There are a number of locations that are deemed neutral ground. As long as it is not at either attorney’s office, this is usually acceptable to both parties. A spare room in a courthouse is one option, although they are often hard to come by. Special arrangements must be made with the court clerk. Some venues are so busy that they do not have any spare rooms, or those that are available have problems with air conditioning or heat, noise or leaks. A conference room or meeting room in a hotel is another. These cost money and are tacked on to the bill for whichever side sets it up. Sometimes both parties will conduct depositions and split the bill. The most economical and neutral place is usually the court reporter’s office. The court reporter is a neutral third party that is only interested in keeping a proper record of the proceedings and does not have a personal stake in which party prevails in the case. Court reporting agencies are usually well prepared to host depositions and welcome the opportunity to have attorneys and witnesses spend the day in their office and bring them business. Having a neutral, professional location helps diffuse some of the tension and alleviates the intimidation factor that comes with entering "enemy territory" for a deposition.

Author writes about a variety of topics. If you would like to learn more about Deposition reporters, visit http://www.huseby.com/.

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