Being Deposed? What You Need to Know About an Errata Sheet
When is an Errata Sheet used?
If you are a witness to an event that results in litigation, which could be civil or criminal in nature, you may be asked (or required via subpoena) to provide testimony via deposition. When someone is deposed, they are brought into a room, as the deponent, with attorneys from both parties along with a court reporter. The attorneys will ask questions for the deponent to answer, and the court reporter will record everything that is said, word for word. The witness will be given the opportunity to read and sign the deposition transcript. An errata sheet is the document used in the procedure of reading and signing that transcript.
What is the purpose of an Errata Sheet?
The errata sheet is an attachment to the transcript that the deponent can use to make corrections to his or her testimony that they find was recorded erroneously. The purpose of an errata sheet is to allow the deponent to make minor form changes and to correct errors such as a misspelled word made by the court reporter. An errata sheet is not meant for a deponent to completely change his or her sworn testimony. If substantive or contradictory changes are made on an errata sheet, both versions of the testimony will remain available for cross-examination.
Why is an Errata Sheet important?
Cross-examination is the formal questioning of a witness at trial by the opposing attorney. Counsel will challenge or extend upon testimony already given. When a witness makes contradictory corrections on an errata sheet, it may cause them to appear to be an unreliable witness if they do not have adequate justification for those corrections. This provides an opportunity for counsel of the opposing party to claim that that witness’s testimony is unreliable. In sum, an errata sheet is a tool for a deponent to use to make minor corrections to deposition testimony, but it is not beneficial to the deponent or the case to make extensive substantive changes on it.
Tips on providing clear testimony.
If you are giving a deposition, it is important to tell the truth. You should stay calm and listen carefully to every question that you are being asked. We usually tell our clients to “count to 3” before they answer, which also allows time for counsel to object to the question. You should answer each question to the best of your ability, and if you do not understand a question, it is important to say that you don’t understand and ask the questioner to clarify. If you do not know an answer, it is okay to say, “I do not know.” It is also important to know that you are entitled to have your own attorney at the deposition with you even if you are only a witness and not an actual party to the case.
And finally, as we always say, “If you think you might need an attorney, you probably do.” Contact us to set up a consultation. We love answering questions!