Deposition – a transcript of a witness’s out-of-court testimony, given under oath, usually before the hearing, in response to written interrogatories or oral examination



1. A witness’s out-of« court testimony that is reduced to writing (usually by a court reporter) for later use in court or for discovery purposes.  See Fed. R. Civ. P. 30; Fed. R. Crim. P. 15. — aka examination before trial.

2. The written record of a witness s out-of-court testimony.

3. The session at which such testimony is recorded. [1]

1. The written testimony of a witness given under oath in the course of a judicial proceeding, either at law or in equity, in advance of the trial or hearing, upon oral examination or in response to written interrogatories and where an opportunity is given for cross-examination; in a less refined sense, an affidavit, an oath; a statement under oath. 23 Am J2d Dep § 1.
See deposition de bene esse; in perpetuam rei memoriam; letter rogatory. [2]

1. The transcript of a witness’s testimony given under oath outside of the courtroom, usually in advance of the trial or hearing, upon oral examination or in response to written interrogatories.
     See discovery; examination of witness.

2. In a more general sense, an affidavit; a statement under oath. [3]

     Excerpt from Edward P. Weeks’s A Treatise on the Law of Depositions (1880):

     “Definition of the term ‘Deposition’ (Depositio). in the civil law it meant simply the testimony of a witness.  In very old English practice, simply the written testimony of a witness. in modern practice it means the testimony of a witness given or taken down in writing, under oath or affirmation, before a commissioner, examiner, or other judicial officer, in answer to interrogatories and cross-interrogatories, and usually subscribed by the witness. A deposition is therefore distinguished from an affidavit, which is always an ex parte statement drawn up in writing without any formal interrogation, and signed and sworn to by the party making it, although in affidavits the party making it is constantly called a deponent, and said to depose.  Depositions were not formerly the ordinary incidents of common-law courts, but were subsequently introduced on the ground of necessity, where the oral testimony of a witness could not be obtained.  But in courts of chancery it was quite frequently the case that this was the only kind of testimony which was taken, as was the case in the ecclesiastical courts. [4]

Various Types of Depositions:

apex deposition (1992) The deposition of a person whose position is at the highest level of a company’s hierarchy.  *  Courts often preclude an apex deposition unless (1) the person to be deposed has particular knowledge regarding the claim, and (2) the requesting party cannot obtain the requested — and discoverable information through less intrusive means.

deposition de bene esse (18c) A deposition taken from a witness who will likely be unable to attend a scheduled trial or hearing.  *  If the witness is not available to attend trial, the testimony is read at trial as if the witness were present in court. 
See testimony de bene esse under TESTIMONY.

deposition on written questions (1970) A deposition given in response to a prepared set of written questions, as opposed to a typical oral deposition.  See Fed. R. Civ. P. 31. — Formerly also termed deposition on written interrogatories.

     Excerpt from Charles Alan Wright’s The Law of Federal Courts (5th ed 1994):

     “The advantage of a deposition on written questions is that counsel for the parties need not go to some distant place to be present at the taking of the deposition.  Instead they serve on each other questions and cross questions — and even redirect and recross questions — that they wish to have put to the deponent.  These are then sent to the officer who is to take the deposition.  The officer puts the questions to the witness, records the answers, and transcribes and files the deposition as with an oral deposition.  The officer is merely to record what the witness says in response to the various questions propounded to him or her. [5]

naturalization deposition Hist. A formal statement made by a witness in support of someone s naturalization petition.  See NATURALIZATION PETITION

oral deposition (1910) A deposition given in response to oral questioning by a lawyer.

supporting deposition (1959) Criminal procedure. A sworn statement of a complaining witness or police office in factual substantiation of an accusatory instrument.

30(b)(6) deposition (1979) Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the deposition of an organization, through the organization’s designated representative.  *   Under Rule 30(b)(6) a party may take the deposition of an organization, such as a corporation.  The notice of deposition (or subpoena) may name the organization and may specify the matters to be covered in the deposition. The organization must then designate a person to testify about those matters on its behalf. Fed R. Civ P. 30(b)(6). Most states authorize a similar procedure under state court procedural rules. — aka corporate deposition.


deposition hearing – See HEARING.

deposition on written interrogatories. See deposition on written questions under DEPOSITION (2).

deposition on written questions. See DEPOSITION (2).

deposition subpoena. See SUBPOENA.

deposition subpoena duces tecum. See subpoena duces tecum under SUBPOENA.

Apnneif nf fit-In Honda (1 Q07\ A “lot-l am A; van] nrnnprl’V aS


deposition dc bene esse (dep-6~zish’on dé be’ne es’se). A deposition taken during the pendency of an action for use as evidence therein, provided the personal attendance of the witness for oral examination cannot be secured. 23 Am 12d Dep § 2. [2]

1. A deposition taken to be read into the record at trial because the witness cannot be present then.
     See de bene ese. [3]


Disclaimer: All material throughout this website is compiled in accordance with Fair Use.

[1]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black & Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-62130-6

[2]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary with Pronunciations
Third Edition
 by James A. Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Edited by William S. Anderson.  © 1969 by THE LAWYER’S CO-OPERATIVE PUBLISHING COMPANY.  Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-30931

[3]:  Ballantine’s Law Dictionary Legal Assistant Edition
by Jack Ballantine 
(James Arthur 1871-1949).  Doctored by Jack G. Handler, J.D. © 1994 Delmar by Thomson Learning.  ISBN 0-8273-4874-6.

[4]: Edward P. Weeks, A Treatise on the Law of Depositions § 3, at 3-4 (1880).

[5]: Charles Alan Wright, The Law of Federal Courts 5 85, at 618-19 (5th ed 1994).


Back to Court Proceedings

Home Page

Like this website?

Please Support Our Fundraiser

or donate via PayPal:


Disclaimer: Wild Willpower does not condone the actions of Maximilian Robespierre, however the above quote is excellent!

This website is being broadcast for First Amendment purposes courtesy of

Question(s)?  Suggestion(s)?
We look forward to hearing from you!