Wednesday, March 16, 2005

I'm Glad They Clean These Things Up

The transcript of my first deposition looks innocuous enough. My client claimed he was injured on the job; he needed time off to recover. His injury was the result, apparently, of the bad luck of him being on the wrong side of a very heavy door when a colleague came barrelling through it, painfully hitting his shoulder. I was deposing the woman who opened the door.

Q: Where was Mr. C-- at the time you came through the door?
A: He was kneeling down behind the door fixing an electrical socket or something.
Q: Did you know he was behind the door when you came through it?
A: No, I did not.
Q: Did Mr. C-- say anything to you when you came through the door?
A: He said, "Ow."
Q: Let's take a recess, please.
[Whereupon a short recess was taken.]
Q: Back on the record. Did Mr. C-- say anything else?
A: No.
Q: Let's take another recess.
[Whereupon a short recess was taken.]

Looks fine, right? Well, except for the fact that I appear to have taken two recesses with exactly one question in between them. There's a reason for that. If the court reporter hadn't been nice enough to leave out the gory details what actually happened, the transcript would look much less professional:

Q: Did Mr. C-- say anything to you when you came through the door?
A: He said, "Ow."
Q: [Dennis! bursts out in completely uncontrollable and definitely inappropriate laughter for approximately three straight minutes. He literally loses his breath as he chokes out the words:] Let's take a recess, please.
[Whereupon a short recess was taken.]

[Whereupon Dennis! leaves the room in a vain effort to compose himself. His breath is the least of his concerns, for he has now lost his professional dignity. He is thankful that the deponent is represented by junior counsel, approximately his age, and not lead counsel, aka $500/hr. bigshot attorney. He replays the scene over and over in his mind, laughing anew each time, hoping that at some point soon he will get over it and find it less funny. He goes to his colleague, who asks him, "How's it going in there?" which only obliges him to rehash the entire story and burst out laughing all over again.]

[When Dennis! finally thinks he has a grip on the situation, he takes several deep breaths, smoothes out the wrinkles in his suit jacket, and re-enters the room where the deposition is taking place. Off the record, he apologizes to the deponent, to opposing counsel, and to the court reporter, and says, "Okay, I think I've regained control now. Focus."]

Q: Back on the record. [Whereupon the giggles resurface with alarming power, and Dennis! again has to choke out his question:] Did Mr. C-- say anything else?
A: [.... Thinks "This guy's so totally on crack."] No.
Q: [Gives up] Let's take another recess, please.
[Whereupon a short recess was taken.]

(Generosity of court reporter indicated by italics.)

[Okay, actually I had to plead with the court reporter that it would be cleaned up. My exact words: "That's not going to all show up is it? Like, it's not going to actually say 'Dennis! breaks out in uncontrollable laughter, necessitating a brief recess,' will it?" I don't think she would have done that anyway, but I just wanted to make sure. After all, my boss would eventually be reading this transcript.]

Like I said, I am SO glad she didn't put all those details in.


Jon said...

I'd be an awful attorney- I'd just laugh at everyone and say 'that's what you get for being an idiot', and be fired from my firm within a matter of minutes.

BTW- is that your kitten in the picture? So cute!

Dennis! said...

Believe me, Jon, I often think that about my clients as well. Often.

That is not my kitten. :( I think it's a picture that's widely circulating the internets which I have appropriated for myself just because it's cute. (I don't even really like cats.)

p.p. said...

Thank god I don't do litigation b/c the above would happen to me too damn often. Funny stuff.

Yeah, I've see the cat pic circulating for awhile, but who gives a shit, it's a cool ass pic!

bonnie said...

Whereupon new reader also duly explodes into laughter.