Depositions are the backbone of discovery, and it’s crucial to know the difference between proper and improper objections. Whether you’ll be conducting your first or your hundredth legal deposition in San Jose, take a few minutes to brush up on the basics of deposition objections. If you object improperly or too frequently, it may damage your own credibility and, more importantly, derail your client’s train of thought. Here’s a quick look at some proper objections.
Asked and Answered
Don’t allow opposing counsel to ask the same question twice. Some lawyers may ask repetitive questions without realizing it. In other cases, it’s a blatant attempt to get the witness to change the answer. Object to repetitive questions before your client has a chance to answer it and potentially change a few words in the answer.
Some lawyers persist in attempting to intimidate the deponent and opposing counsel by shouting, pointing fingers, and otherwise making a nuisance of themselves. If opposing counsel tries this with you or your deponent, stay calm and do not reciprocate. Instead, say to the court reporter, “Let the record reflect that Mr. Smith is yelling at my client.” For the record, you should clearly describe the type of harassing behavior, and that you will terminate the deposition unless it stops. Then, follow through if necessary.
Legal depositions are conducted to get the facts of the case on the record. Counsel should not ask a deponent to give a legal conclusion, especially if the deponent isn’t a lawyer. You can object to questions that ask for non-factual information.
Confidential, privileged relationships exist between patients and doctors, and clients and attorneys. Be wary of questions that ask the deponent to share information that was discussed in confidence. You can object to these questions based on the privileged relationship.
The mischaracterization of earlier testimony may be influential in a trial, and it confuses all involved parties as to the actual facts of the case. You can object based on opposing counsel’s mischaracterization of your client’s previous testimony.