Questions about Questioning
If your legal matter is proceeding to Questioning, it’s normal to have some concerns or anxiety wondering what the process will look like or what is expected of you. While your lawyer will prepare you for Questioning in advance, here is some general information about the process and things to keep in mind.
What is Questioning?
- Questioning is a pre-trial procedure in which the parties to a lawsuit are questioned under oath. The purpose of Questioning is to hear what each side has to say about the relevant issues and determine where agreement or disagreement exists. Through Questioning, each party has an opportunity to understand or “discover” what the evidence would be if the action went to trial.
Where does Questioning take place?
- Generally, questioning happens at one of the lawyer’s offices.
Who will be there?
- Lawyers for each party.
- Each party is present to answer questions and to observe questioning of the other side.
- A Court Reporter to record the evidence and produce a transcript of the questions and answers.
How do I prepare?
- Your lawyer will provide you with any documents they want to you review in advance. As you review, take note of anything you want to discuss with your lawyer prior to Questioning.
What should I wear?
- There are no rules; however, think about the impression you want to make as well as your own comfort level during the day.
What is an Undertaking?
- During Questioning, it is common that a request will be made to “undertake” to locate a document or record that has not already been produced. Your lawyer will consider the request for an undertaking and will provide an answer on your behalf.
How do I answer questions?
- Listen carefully and wait until the full question is asked.
- Make sure you understand the question. If you are confused, ask the other lawyer to repeat the question. If you still don’t understand, tell the other lawyer and ask them to rephrase or clarify.
- Take your time and think about your answers before speaking.
- Be truthful and concise with your answers.
- If you don’t know the answer to a question, don’t guess or assume. Tell the other lawyer you don’t know the answer. If you don’t remember the answer, tell the other lawyer you don’t remember. Keep in mind – you must be truthful.
- Answer only the question being asked – don’t volunteer extra information.
- Your answers must be verbal – nodding or shaking your head is not sufficient and your lawyer will remind you to say “yes” or “no” so that your answer can be recorded on the transcript.
- Avoid answering in absolutes (using words like “never” and “always”).
- If your lawyer tells you NOT to answer a question, don’t answer it.
- Don’t interrupt anyone else while they’re speaking – the Court Reporter can only record one person speaking at a time.
- Do your best to stay calm. If you get overwhelmed and need a break, let your lawyer know.