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Are California depositions really conducted as you see in the movies?


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12/8/2009
James E. Ballidis
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Litigation in Film and Television

This will be the first in a steady stream of articles about how lawyers, and litigation in particular, is portrayed in the popular media.  Just as I'm sure most doctors can't stand watching E.R. or Gray's Anatomy, I can assure you many attorneys are unable to sit through movies or television shows about attorneys.  I know I can't.  It's often painful, and my wife doesn't like me yelling at the screen "THAT WOULD NEVER HAPPEN!!!" on a regular basis. 

Depositions are typically a fairly straight-forward, somewhat tedious process.  A witness or party to a lawsuit sits down in a conference room, and the attorney's take turns asking them questions about the case.  Typically, clients start out nervous about the deposition process, but about ten to twenty minutes in the overwhelming feeling they're likely to experience is boredom.  Here are a list of things that you will see on the silver screen or at home you will never see at a real deposition:  1.)An attorney being allowed to scream at a witness or party for more than three seconds without the deposition being terminated -- in fact, out of hundreds of depositions, I have been yelled at maybe once or twice, and a client, never; 2.)No objects will ever be thrown at a deposition; 3.)You will never have to undress at a deposition;  4.)You will never be arrested or thrown into jail for contempt for deciding that you are done with the deposition for the day; 5.)The other attorney will never give up and agree to all of the other side's demands at a deposition.  See this article on typical claims processing.

Maybe next week I'll talk about just what judges will and will not allow you to say to them during a trial, and how the writers of Boston Legal often get this wrong.

Category: General


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