Friday Files: Method Depositions

I used to work with Hank, a compulsive micromanager and highly methodical partner at a 30-attorney boutique. Despite having practiced for 20-plus years, Hank wanted his depo prep binders to have every possible iteration of a question included.

So I dutifully included questions like: What is your current position? How long have you held that position? What position did you hold before that? How long did you hold that position? Why did you leave that position? I think I included the same question set five or eight times, just in case.

I honestly couldn’t believe that going over 20 years of employment history was anything but a waste of time, when the dispute was only with a job held for about five years. Sure, ask if the guy had ever filed discrimination claims before, and follow that if the answer suggested you should, but going over every single job since the 45-year old guy was 21? Ludicrous.

So Hank calls me up after the first day of the deposition, in quite a lather. As he was plodding through the witness’ job history, the guy gets increasingly uncomfortable. When Hank got to the guy’s late 20s, the witness asked for a break. Hank was confused, but agreed.

When the witness and his lawyer return, the lawyer looks stunned. But the deposition resumes. Hank repeats the pending question, “What position did you hold before that?” And the witness proceeds to tell everyone how he wasn’t working before that. What was he doing? Serving time for a MURDER CONVICTION. For a murder committed when the guy was 19, trying to fence some stolen televisions.

Oy vey! I hate it when annoying partner habits pay off, but in that case, Hank’s plodding did just that.

As you might imagine, the case settled shortly thereafter. But that’s a tale for another day.

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