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Don't Interrupt or Cut-Off Witnesses

Recently, I was defending the deposition of an expert physician. The first defense lawyer was fine. Reasonable questions were asked. The tone was polite and the doctor was allowed to give a complete answer. I didn't utter a word. (I am also not a believer in constant "object to form" recitations.)

The second defense lawyer was not so fine. The tone was ugly. What the doctor had just said was twisted and misstated. That sort of conduct is not something one cannot do much about in a deposition, but the doctor was handling it just fine. However, the lawyer continually tried to cut-off the doctor's answers. The interruptions were constant.

I calmly admonished the lawyer to let the witness answer. I did this several times. It had no effect. Finally, I had had enough - and I got mad. That's never a good thing to do. I know.

My anger had the desired effect, however. The lawyer behaved for the remainder of the deposition.

You may not like what the witness is saying. It might hurt your case. But you chose to ask questions - and you can live with the answers to your chosen questions.

Persistently interrupting a witness is really nothing more than an attempt to bully that individual and distort the record of what they are saying.

We often bemoan the fact that lawyers have a bad reputation. Conduct like that I saw the other day is one good reason why.

Being a zealous advocate does not necessitate abandoning common courtesy and basic respect.


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