Depositions

Happy New Year!

Tonight at sundown, the members of the tribe are going to party like it’s 5772 because it’s Rosh Hashanah. For the rest of you, that means that we’ll be celebrating the Jewish New Year. If you’re still confused, you can check out this handy-dandy Jew FAQ.

Anyway, tomorrow Jews around the world will be celebrating the holiday with apples in dipped in honey, cheeks squeezed by bubbies, kugel and challah being eaten, and more motherly nagging than can possibly be described in words. Most of us won’t be at work, if only because in some states the courts will be closed in observance of the holiday.

That’s why we found it strange that one law firm in Florida was pretty much demanding that a deposition take place tomorrow. This is one of the handful of holidays that most Jews celebrate, and here comes this law firm trying to ruin it like we’re actually going observe one of the 500 other holidays we have.

It’s a good thing we have judges to tell these goyim to stick it in their shofar and blow it….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Benchslap of the Day: A Mensch with Some Chutzpah”

There’s one guy in your outfit who understands the need not to write stupid e-mails: That’s the guy who just spent all day in deposition being tortured with the stupid e-mails that he wrote three years ago.

That guy will control himself. He’ll write fewer and more carefully phrased e-mails for the next couple of weeks. Then he’ll go back to writing stupid stuff again, just like everyone else.

You can’t win this game; no matter what you say, people will revert to informality and write troublesome e-mails. But you’re not allowed to give up. What’s an in-house lawyer to do?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Inside Straight: Avoiding E-Mail Stupidity”

When is a litigator thinking most keenly about a specific witness’s testimony?

There are two days: The day you’re taking (or defending) the deposition of the witness, and the day — months or years later, if ever — when you’re examining the witness at trial. So when should you be making notes about the witness’s testimony and your reaction to it? That question answers itself: You should make quick notes of key points during the deposition, and you should write notes to yourself immediately after the deposition ends. “Immediately after”: Not later in the week; not the next morning. Now, when your brain is fully engaged.

Those notes don’t have to be comprehensive, but they have to memorialize the things that you noticed during the deposition that you’re likely to forget by either the next morning or the day, a month later, when you’re reviewing the transcript. The notes are quick and easy. Write an e-mail to yourself that says: “Today I took Smith’s deposition. These were the highlights: (1) He admitted A; (2) He denied B; remember to create some other admissible evidence on that point; (3) He evaded on C; there’s something fishy going on there; (4) Opposing counsel started interrupting when I got near D; we should press harder on that point; (5) His testimony opens up issue E; let’s do some legal research.” There might be a half dozen points; there might be a dozen. But the key is to record immediately the fleeting ideas that you had while your brain was most in gear.

During the deposition, you’re as attentive as you’ll ever be. Don’t lose the moment; capture it.

What do you use those notes for?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Inside Straight: Reporting On Depositions”

Judge Sam Sparks

You do not want to mess with Judge Sam Sparks, of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas. We recently wrote about Judge Sparks accusing a lawyer appearing before him of incompetence — in a harshly worded order that pulled no punches.

Judge Sparks has been doling out stinging benchslaps for years, and he’s gotten pretty good at it. In particular, His Honor has little patience for discovery disputes. In 2007, for example, he smacked down some lawyers squabbling over a deposition — in rhymed couplets, no less.

Last week, Judge Sparks lit more lawyers on fire….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Benchslap of the Day: Judge Sparks Burns More Attorneys”

I never had the inclination, or the physical strength, to attack Mr. Bloch.

Henry Shields Jr., the Drinker Biddle partner accused in a lawsuit of assaulting opposing counsel at a deposition. Shields, who is currently undergoing chemotherapy, maintains that he was the victim of the assault rather than the perpetrator.

(To read more about how a deposition devolved into a fracas, see our prior post.)

Have you ever been to a deposition that got physical? Maybe some fisticuffs, or a little shoving? No? Well, obviously you’ve been hanging out in the the wrong conference rooms.

A complaint filed in Santa Monica Superior Court and reported on by Courthouse News Service accuses a Drinker Biddle partner of “robust, unlawful force” that resulted in opposing counsel breaking his wrist. The alleged assault happened at the Beverly Hills office of the Excelus Law Group, a small law firm based in southern California. Attorney William W. Bloch claims that Drinker Biddle’s Henry Shields refused to leave his conference room after a deposition, and then assaulted him — with “some kind of martial art move.”

Shields and other Drinker Biddle attorneys who were there deny all of these allegations. And affidavits submitted by Drinker Biddle attorneys, as well as the actual deposition transcript, seem to paint a different — and much more hilarious — version of events…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Beverly Hills Brawl: Escape From The Deposition Room!”

We’re a little bit late with April’s lawyer of the month reader poll. First of all, we’ve been doing a lot of reader voting so far in this month. (There are still a few hours for you to vote in our Law Revue Video Contest.)

The other reason why we’re a bit delinquent this month is because we think we know who is going to win. It’s not every day that a recent law grad finds himself trying a murder case — and getting reprimanded by the judge for “lack[ing] knowledge of proper trial procedure.”

Such is life during the Obama “recovery.” Check out this month’s nominees below…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawyer of the Month: April Reader Poll”

If you already know what I’m talking about, I’m sorry — I don’t have very much to add. The deposition is so damn short, the transcript doesn’t contain case-identifying information, and the pdf has been stripped of its metadata. Really, I only know what you know: a hilarious deposition took place earlier this month.

For those who are in the loop, there’s been this deposition making the rounds on various lawyer listserves. From what we can tell, it’s a real deposition in what appears to be a divorce or some other type of family-law proceeding. The deponent is named Kevin Phillip Gartner; of all the Kevin Gartners in Google, we can’t be sure of which one. The lawyer taking the deposition appears to be Denise Watson, a Jacksonville area lawyer. When I tried to contact her, I was told she is “unavailable, this week.” The lawyer valiantly trying to represent Kevin Gartner and defend the deposition is known only as “Mr. Dorsey.”

That’s all I got: a name, a no-comment, and the mysterious Mr. Dorsey. Normally, that wouldn’t be enough for a full post. But you’re going to want to see the depo transcript for yourself….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Shortest Deposition Ever”

* If you root for your law school alma mater over your undergrad alma mater, you are the kind of unprincipled betrayer who deserves the very worst of all that life has to offer. [PrawfsBlawg]

* Did you know that university professors could get fired for appearing in burlesque shows? [Siouxsie Law]

* Some thoughts on what black prospective law students should consider when choosing a law school, from Yolanda Young. [On Being a Black Lawyer]

* Best. Deposition transcript. Ever. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Please, please, please, let there be many character and fitness boards who will ding this law student who stomped a bird to death. [Huffington Post]

* Happy Purim, everybody. And if you are an Irish Jew, I wish your liver the best.

Ed. note: This is the latest installment of Inside Straight, Above the Law’s column for in-house counsel, written by Mark Herrmann.

This column comes from a narrow perspective — that of a litigator and, in particular, an in-house head of litigation.

I suspect that in-house SEC lawyers, or M&A lawyers, may have entirely different perspectives on this topic. But as a litigator, I pay a lot of attention to briefs and other written work. Why is that?

Because I can.

When I was a partner at a firm, I’d let junior lawyers argue motions. For significant matters, I’d chat with the lawyers beforehand, to discuss how to approach an argument. But I almost never attended those arguments. Maybe I should have (for reasons of associate training and evaluation), but I generally viewed sending myself as an observer to be over-staffing an event. I thus rarely saw associates on their feet in court.

I also didn’t double-staff depositions. In mass torts (which was a lot of my practice, way back when), senior lawyers typically defended depositions, and more junior lawyers typically took them. This is partly driven by the nature of mass torts; in that environment, deposition defense is critical. If the senior VP of research and development gets her clock cleaned in deposition, that testimony will come back to haunt the client in hundreds of later cases. In mass torts, senior lawyers play deposition defense….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Inside Straight: Why The Focus On Written Work?”

Page 6 of 81...2345678