Deposition Essentials for Every Notary
A deposition is an involuntary sworn statement made by a witness for use in the witness’ absence at a legal proceeding or for use in cross examination during a witness testimony.
I have been involved in hundreds of these transcribed testimonies as an attorney. Contrary to popular belief, they are usually very civil, if attorneys are involved on both sides. If one or both parties are not represented, watch out. You have had your warning here.
At any rate, you may be asked to be part of one as a notary. But usually, a trained stenographer is present. The stenographer is usually a notary as well, but not always.
If you are involved in this type of testimony as a notary, you should know the following.
In taking testimony, the notary should first make sure the witness is sworn in. The notary should then personally record or supervise the recording of the testimony of the witness. After the testimony is transcribed, the notary should let the witness read and sign the transcribed copy of the testimony. The notary then certifies that the witness was sworn and that this document is a true and record of the witness’ testimony.
The testimony should be sealed in an envelope and filed with the court or sent to the attorney for filing.
The certificate for transcribed testimony should comply with the following format:
State of____________ ) )SS:County of _____________)
Certificate of Officer Before Whom Deposition is Taken
I,______________________(Name of Officer), a_________________(Title) do hereby certify that,pursuant to________________(Specify the stipulation, notice or order of court under which the deposition was taken) the deposition of __________(Name of Witness) was duly taken at___________(Place) on___________(Date) at ___________o’clock ___m. before me. The said__________________(Name of witness) was first duly sworn (or affirmed) by me according to law to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth and thereupon did testify as set forth in the above transcript of testimony. The testimony was taken down in my presence stenographically by_______(Name of stenographer) under my direction.
I do further certify that the above deposition is full, complete and true record of all thetestimony given by the said witness.
A Deposition Certificate can be viewed here.
As a practical matter, reading of the written transcript by the witness is usually waived. The reading is used to correct spelling mistakes but is not usually used to change content or testimony.
Usually during the testimony, at breaks, you can ask the witness for spelling advice on words that you did not understand during the testimony. Stenographers are very good at this as they keep a running record of words that they need clarity on.
As a FYI, if you are the stenographer, you are usually paid by the page. If, as a notary you are asked to attend this type of testimony, but are not the stenographer, you will usually be paid a flat fee. Make sure this fee is negotiated and understood by the parties before you begin your service.
Usually, the party requesting the written testimony is the party that pays for the service. The opposing party may ask for a copy of the transcript. It is normal practice to ask for a copy.