Recently, I was reading my new favorite blog (Keenan Trial Blog) when I stumbled upon a post about the power of silence. In the post, entitled “Silence is Golden,” Keenan opines that a great trial lawyer must “master the art of silence.” One area that Keenan believes silence can be effectively used is in a deposition.
Charles Allen, the best deposition taker in the country, will tell you that one of the biggest mistakes that lawyers make is not respecting silence. The first witness stops and the plaintiff’s lawyer feels obligated to start moving their mouth. Silence and a long stare will often times trigger a fountain of great information.
Understand that when someone stops talking they expect the other person to pick it up as if in a relay race and when they don’t the silence is awkward. This isn’t preferable in everyday life; however, in a deposition, it implicitly puts the burden on the witness to say more and it’s usually more than they really want to.
I think Keenan has a great point. Thoughts?