Objecting male attorney.jpgIn the spirit of my most recent blog, “OBJECTION!! There’s this case that says . . . “, here is a list of proper and improper objections to deposition questions that you should also keep in the back of your legal pad.  

OBJECTIONS TO DEPOSITION QUESTIONS

Objections to the form of questions are waived if not raised at the deposition. Weil and Brown, Cal Prac. Guide: Civil Procedure Before Trial (TRG 2010) ¶8:721 (citing C.C.P. §2025.460 (pdf)(b)). 

Instructing witness not to answer is improper unless objecting on grounds of privilege. CCP §2025.460 (pdf)Stewart v. Colonial Western Agency, Inc.(2001) 87 CA4th 1006 (pdf), 10015.

Speaking objections which counsel explains his rationale for the objection is improper as it is usually used as a tactic to give the deponent a heads up that the area of questioning is dangerous and how he should answer.  This is a form of “coaching” the witness and a protective order may need to be sought.  See CEB, California Civil Discovery Practice (4th ed. 2010) §6:100. 

Continue Reading DEPOSITONS–What are the Real Objections?

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Have you ever been in a middle of a deposition and found yourself saying “OBJECTION!! There’s this case that says . . . “ but you can’t quite remember what the name was, where you saw it or even where you might find it?  And, yet, it is right on point. Well, the following is a list of cases and statutes for depositions that you should keep in the back of your legal pad as they may come in handy.

 

SCOPE OF DEPOSITION

Discovery is permissible if the information sought is relevant to the subject matter involved and it is admissible or reasonably calculated to lead to discovery of admissible evidence. C.C.P. §2017.010 (pdf) 

Admissibility is not the test.  Weil and Brown, California Practice Guide: Civil Procedure Before Trial (TRG 2010) ¶8:68 (citing C.C.P. §2017.010 citing Davies v. Superior Court (1984) 36 C3d 291 (pdf), 301).

Fishing expeditions are permissible.  Weil and Brown, California Practice Guide: Civil Procedure Before Trial (TRG 2010) ¶8:728 (citing C.C.P. §2017.010 citing Greyhound Corp. v. Superior Court(1961) 56 C2d 355 (pdf), 384).

Identity and location of witnesses are discoverable. C.C.P. §2017.010

Existence, description, nature, custody, condition and location of any document, tangible thing, or land or other property is discoverable. C.C.P. §2017.010

“Show me” questions (requesting a deponent to demonstrate an action) at a videotaped deposition are allowed. Emerson Electric Co. v. Superior Court (1997) 16 C4th 1101 (pdf), 1111. 

Improper to ask a party to state their legal contentions. Rifkind v. Superior Court(1994) 22 CA 4th 1255 (pdf), 1259.  This is because legal contentions are developed by the lawyer.  The proper discovery device to find out about legal contentions are interrogatories.

Documents reviewed to prepare for deposition are discoverable. International Insurance Co. v. Montrose Chemical Corp. of California (1991) 231 CA3d 1367 (pdf), 1372-73. However, privileged documents do not lose their privileged status (Sullivan v. Superior Court (1972) 29 CA3d 64 (pdf), 68), unless the witness claims no present memory of the events recorded in the statement given to his or her attorney and uses that statement to testify. Kerns Const. Co. v Superior Court (1968) 266 CA2d 405 (pdf), 410.

CONDUCT DURING DEPOSITION

Team questioning not per se abusiveRockwell International Inc. v. Pos-A traction Industries (9th Circuit 1983) 712 F2d 1324, 1325–applying California Law.  See Weil and Brown, California Practice Guide: Civil Procedure Before Trial (TRG 2010) ¶8:718.1

Coaching the witness during deposition not prohibited.  Weil and Brown, California Practice Guide: Civil Procedure Before Trial (TRG 2010) ¶8:721. However, Hall v. Clifton Precision (ED PA 1993) 150 FRD 525, 528 (decided under Federal Rules) states that “[o]nce a deposition begins, the deponent must be left “on his or her own.”

Deposition officer may not suspend taking testimony unless there is a stipulation of all counsel or the deposition is suspended for a party to seek a protective order.  C.C.P. §2025.470 (pdf)

NEXT:  DEPOSITONS–What are the Real Objections?


Continue Reading “OBJECTION” — There’s this case that says…

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Attorneys easily spew out the objection “the information you are seeking is not relevant to the subject matter of the litigation” as easily as they say “Good morning.”  If you are the propounding party your reaction is probably to be to yell out “It is too relevant!” because it doesn’t even appear that the responding party actually thought it through before spewing out the objection.   But what exactly is relevancy?  It seems to be a nebulous term that invokes images of catching clouds with your hands or like Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s definition of pornography “I know it when I see it”?

Continue Reading It Is Too Relevant!

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Not only are most objections garbage, we tend to recycle our garbage objections from one case to the next. Sometimes, we pick up other attorneys’ garbage objections and contribute to more litter. This is done over and over again without even thinking what it is doing to the environment of the litigation.

Garbage objections fuel the ire of opposing counsel. The “meet and confer” letter that is soon to follow is usually full of hostility and threats. Any amicable relationship you had hoped for with opposing counsel is on the cusp of being destroyed. More important, you are now costing your client more money in attorneys’ fees and possibly in settlement.  So before you throw out the trash, look at these common objections and why they will be overruled:

Continue Reading Are Your Objections Garbage?

Knights Fighting.jpgOfficial Form Interrogatories–General (Disc-001)  prepared by the Judicial Council were intended to be used to cover basic matters as well as being a foundational discovery device in personal injury and contract cases.  They also contained sub-parts which were not allowed when serving special interrogatories and they were not subject to the “Rule of 35”.  See California Code of Civil Procedure §§2030.030(a)(2) and 2030.060.  Their use was usually the first volley in the discovery battle.

For years the Courts had found that the Form Interrogatories were objection proof as to form with minor exceptions.  These minor exceptions usually involved case specific issues such as  checking the box with the definition of “INCIDENT” versus creating your own definition for “INCIDENT” and cases which involve complex business transactions.   

Continue Reading Are Official Form Interrogatories Objection Proof?