Getting Deposed

I am being deposed. No, I don’t mean thrown out of office or my job. I mean that I will be soon sitting in a room at a court house with four lawyers, their assistants, and a court reporter. I have been subpoenaed as an expert witness in a case  related  to my work.  Three of the lawyers will ask me questions. One will try to discredit me and my testimony, while the other two will like what I have to say.  The fourth lawyer is sent from the Attorney General’s office, since I am a State employee,  to help me out if needed.

My lawyer from the AG’s office is a very nice man who sent me a list of helpful hints for giving testimony and  who will  provide all the documents that I was ordered to bring to the hearing. I have testified in court many times before and have given at least one deposition, but it was nice to talk it over with him.  I am not a difficult witness, and I know how to behave on the stand. This made me think, though, what a thankless task it will be for the poor lawyer or lawyers who will prepare 45 for giving testimony and answering questions on the stand.  I can’t imagine it will be pretty.

Have you ever had to testify in court? Imagine you are a lawyer.  Think of some historical or literary characters and tell us how you would prepare them to testify in court. 

39 thoughts on “Getting Deposed”

  1. I was named in a lawsuit just a couple weeks into my job on a pediatric unit. I thought my nursing career would be over before it even got started. The prosecuting attorney was a known ambulance chaser and he didn’t present a compelling case. My malpractice insurance was’t in force yet so I was represented by hospital lawyers. They were very good during my nerve wracking deposition and even better at prepping me for trial almost a year later. Cross examination was a horrible personal experience but I must have done OK because I was dropped from the case soon after. In the end, the prosecution lost ( as well as an appeal), and I went on to a long and successful career. I never, ever want to go through that again.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. We were out enjoying an evening cruise on the Saint Croix River right below Stillwater. A boat approached us in the dark, running with a spotlight on but no running lights (which meant we couldn’t tell what course it was on). The boat kept getting closer, then veered, taking a course that made a collision unavoidable. The other boat was being driven by a man too drunk to stand. It suffered the worst damage. The driver, a wealthy guy with a long string of alcohol-related accidents, sued my hosts for being drunk and not having our lights on (just the reverse of the truth).

    And I had to testify. It was bizarre. When the drunk’s attorney asked me what I saw, I said, “A boat being erratically driven came at us in the dark.”

    The attorney shut me down, saying, “No, no, no! You didn’t see a boat. You saw a light in the dark.”

    I said, “Well, I saw a light in the dark coming at us, wandering left and right, and then the light got bigger and then it turned out to be attached to a boat and the boat. collided with us.”

    Our side won, thanks to the testimony of an old railroad employee who had seen the whole thing from his perch on a railway bridge.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. The attorney for the drunk was a sneering, cocky guy. When the old railroad guy described seeing the accident just as we described it, the lawyer, oozing contempt, asked, “How does it happen that you were looking at boat traffic just at the right moment?”

      The old guy said, “I sit up there all day. I got nothing better to do than watch the boats.”

      The courtroom erupted in laughter, and we knew we’d won.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    I have testified in court and been deposed many times, all in civil and family court regarding child welfare and child mental health issues, and several times as an expert witness. My first position after grad school ended in a lawsuit that was well-founded. I was named in it just because the petitioner’s attorney did not know what he was doing. Had he named me as a witness he would have won his case. This taught me that the quality of an attorney really matters in court and you do not ever want to hire a “bargain attorney.” The presence of even one competent judge or attorney on a case increases the performance of everyone involved.

    I could tell you stories. And I will tell one.

    I was testifying on a case in S MN years ago. Our regular judge was on vacation, requiring a neighboring county’s judge to step in. This man did not command much respect from attorneys. So, apparently the County Attorney presenting my case thought he could be on a mental vacation, as well. He was never a great attorney, usually not well-prepared, but this day was just gross incompetence. He was daydreaming. The opposing attorney asked me a question that was not legitimate. I paused, looking at the Co Attorney, waiting for an objection. None came.

    I looked at the judge and said, “I object.”

    He said, “You object?”

    I said, “Yes, his question has no basis and I don’t want to answer this.”

    The judge looked at the attorney and said, “She has a point, counsel.”

    He had no idea what was going on and the judge supported my objection. The County Attorney paid more attention after that.

    Liked by 6 people

      1. I thought about it for about 2 minutes, but I think the very adversarial nature of law would wear on me too much. I was so, so, so, so naive when I started my career. I expected that attorneys would do their jobs. When I made good cases and insisted the Co Att represent the case, it was such a threat to both the County Attorney and the defense attorneys. They were used to coasting. After awhile the defense attorneys would come after me with guns blazing and it took me forever to understand that I was a threat.

        Liked by 4 people

  4. I have been deposed twice: the first time at a coroner’s inquest, the second time after I was attacked by a big black dog.

    The coroner’s inquest took place during my sophomore year in college. Mr. Taupe, the old man who tended the furnace in the old house I lived in, caught his coveralls on fire in our basement. I was subpoenaed because I was the one who came to his rescue and drove him to the hospital. We lived right across the street from the hospital’s ER entrance, so it was just a matter of putting out the fire, wrapping him in a clean sheet, getting him in the car, and across the street.

    Unfortunately, the nurse on duty was Paula Truley; I’ll never forget her name as long as I live. A prissy “old maid,” who was so unnerved at the prospect that she might see the genitals of a dirty, 83 year old man, that she was hesitant to unwrap him from the sheet to assess his injuries. Instead she insisted that I take him to a clinic, a little north of town. There, they took one look at Mr. Taupe and told me he needed to go back to the hospital. By this time rush hour had set in, and Mr. Taupe was in a state of shock.

    When we arrived back at the hospital, Ms. Truley was incredulous when Mr. Taupe responded to her question of who his doctor was, that he didn’t have one. “You mean you’re 83 years old, and don’t have a doctor?” He confirmed that he didn’t. At which point I had lost all patience with her, and demanded that he be seen by a doctor immediately. Screw these ridiculous questions.

    Unfortunately, Mr. Taupe was so badly burned that he died four days later in the hospital. At the inquest, the hospital was found to have been negligent in their response to Mr. Taupe. Don’t know what steps they took to assure something like that ever happened again.

    The deposition resulting from the dog attack took place in one of the conference rooms at the law firm where I worked. Prior to the deposition, I was instructed to just answer the questions posed to me by the insurance company’s lawyer. Don’t volunteer any information, simply give them the information they ask for, I was instructed. With ample photographic evidence of the injuries I had suffered during the attack, the insurance company agreed to pay my medical bills; I wasn’t asking for anything else. The woman who owned the dog felt terrible about the attack, yet the fact was that she owned two very vicious dogs that she had little control over. I was lucky to not have encountered her other dog witnesses told me.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I agree, Steve. He was such a sweet old man. His big worry when I took him to the ER was that his old dog was home alone. I promised him I’d find someone to go check on it and feed it. Turned out he had a couple of adult children, both living in the area, so I trusted them to take care of the dog. Don’t know if they did. The thought still bothers me. I do know that I never saw either one of them at the hospital when I went to visit him, and when he died, I was the person the hospital contacted; they thought I was his daughter.

        Liked by 4 people

    1. OMG! What a story. I wish I could say I am surprised, but I am not. People can do the strangest things to stay “safe” and in doing so create great danger for themselves and/or others that endanger their legal status.

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    2. I’m not sure I’m right about this, but I think if he had arrived by ambulance the first time the hospital would have had to take him. It would seem silly to call an ambulance for such a short distance, and perhaps a waste of time. But not everything about the American health care system makes sense.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. I was asked to be a character witness in a nasty custody contest between two people who were exceptionally unconventional. The trial opened with the attorney for the other side asking my friend a question: “Mister R*****, In July of 1973, did you ride your motorcycle nude through the streets of Brule?”

    My friend was silent, thinking hard. It seemed he took forever, trying to remember. It was an odd moment. If you ask people if they’ve ridden a motorcycle nude in town, they usually can say yes or no. My friend, doing his best impersonation of a normal person, finally said, “Well, I’ve ridden my motorcycle nude. But I don’t recall going to Brule that way.”

    His attorney, sensing that this case was not going to go well, rushed in to call a halt to the trial. I’ve often wondered what the next questions would have been.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. I’ve been to small claims court twice, and traffic court once, all very educational.

      In the case of the small claims court I’d say that it’s pretty much a waste of time. Even if you win your case, you are not given the resources to ever collect on your damages. In one case, I was attempting to collect four months of unpaid rent from former renters; in the other I was trying to recover my $500.00 deductible on my car insurance after my car was totaled by a hit and run driver while it was parked at the curb. Won both cases, but never collected a penny. There are lots of irresponsible crooks out there.

      Traffic court, on the other hand, was pretty interesting. You get to sit there and see all of the people called before the judge and plead to whatever they are charged with. Some pretty interesting case in the mix. My case was dismissed and saved me a $95.00 fine.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I think the basic nature of crooks is that they can be irresponsible and some how never be held accountable. Case in point: #45. But if someone ever can hold them responsible they lose it. Which I think we are seeing on a daily basis right now in Washington DC.

        We did go to small claims court one time regarding a piece of defective furniture. We were able to collect on the repair needed, but it was not cash, it was a repair service.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. Interesting stories.
    Son talks about having been depositioned multiple times for arrests, but very rarely actually ends up in court; they always settle out.
    And he said he doesn’t follow up on his arrests because he knows how many get off and he doesn’t want the stress of knowing that. Some officers follow all their arrests and they get upset and mad to know the perp gets off. Son figures he just doesn’t need the aggravation.

    I think I was in court once. Actually I can’t remember what it was. Traffic? Dogs? Evidently it wasn’t a big deal because I don’t remember any of it.

    Kelly and I, as Legal Guardians of Amelia had to go to court the day that was approved. But we mixed up the time and missed the actual Judge ruling. But that was really just a formality and it wasn’t a problem. We have a good person we work with in the courts and she took care of the whole thing for us. Oops. Doesn’t exactly make the best impression but I guess it’s not unusual either.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Good for your son that he’s able to resist following up on what happens subsequent to arrests. I’m sure it’s demoralizing when you see, repeatedly, that perps are let go on technicalities.

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  7. I once had a Canadian-born attorney who was a naturalized US citizen try to discredit me on the stand by insinuating that I was really Canadian (since I went to Grad school there) and wasn’t familiar enough with US culture to provide expert testimony in US court. He didn’t get far with that.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I’m regularly amazed at the number of contestants from Canada on Jeopardy! that do very well despite what I would consider a considerable disadvantage. I’m amazed that a native born Canadian would try to imply that being Canadian is any kind impediment. Glad that went nowhere in a hurry.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. It’s not so bad being considered Canadian. My erstwife keeps that in her social toolkit as she interacts with Europeans. Now and then it suits her to claim she’s from Canada as a way of avoiding tedious arguments about US policies.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. I remembered more detail about the time we didn’t go to court. We were living in student housing when Husband was in grad school; Joel was about two, and would play regularly with the little girl next door. Her dad was a student (and on the football team), her mom may have been taking classes too. We would sometimes hear shouting from their apartment, but I didn’t ever see evidence of physical abuse when I’d talk with Vicki. She came over one weekend when he was out of town and said she was moving out, so we helped her load a friend’s truck, and when she asked if we’d be a character witness for her, we said yes. Day of the trial, as soon as her husband realized she had someone to vouch for her, he changed his tune and settled out of court. I don’t remember if it ended joint custody, but I do know he didn’t get sole custody he had tried for.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. When I was 16 and had been driving for about 8 months, a pick-up hit me from behind while I was idling, waiting to turn left. I did have my turn signal on.

    I had a witness in the car. It was a Volkswagen Beetle and in those days getting hit by a small truck from behind in a Beetle meant the car was totaled. The owner tried to bamboozle us because I was a teenage driver but didn’t count on my dad. I was all set to go to court, I have been coached by my father , my mother had picked out the appropriate outfit and then an hour before the trial was about to start, the owner gave in and the case was dismissed against us and the owner ended up paying for a new car for my mom (it was her Beetle). That’s as close as I’ve ever come.

    Liked by 5 people

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