So we left off yesterday talking about the 5 Assholes…Lawyers…You Meet In Depositions.
First, let me be clear since some of you folks aren’t understanding the title, it’s a play on the title of a book by Mitch Albom. I don’t expect you to get that, really, because Albom is an inspirational son of a bitch, and we live in a world of darkness and sorrow professionally. Still, it’s a decent little read, so maybe pick it up if you want some flutter in your chest that’ll remind you what happiness used to feel like.
Now, I’ve got more depositions tomorrow, so let’s get this pounded out.
We covered the Obstructionist, and we covered the Buddy Guy. That leaves us with three more lawyers you meet in depositions to wheeze our way through today: the Blowhard, the Rabbit, and the Wildcard. Let’s just jump right into the shit on this, okay?
Lawyer 3: The Blowhard
The Blowhard has been doing this for a long fucking time, and he’s going to let you know it at every goddamn chance. If there’s a dispute, he’s the guy who’s going to say things like “In all of my 32 years of practice…” or “The way things were done back in my day.” You are a gnat, an annoyance, a young puppy with nothing to add to the conversation. It may be your deposition, but it’s his show, and he’ll make that clear. Further, the Blowhard will use this to try and bully your ass into the corner.
“Move to admit,” you may say in a trial deposition.
“Objection, Statute of Frauds,” he’ll reply, crossing his hands over what is sure to be an ample and well-earned gut.
“That…That’s a defense, not an objection,” you’ll respond.
“We’ll see what the judge thinks. It’s on the record.”
The Blowhard’s goal is to use his experience and knowledge to try and intimidate you into the corner, making you defer to him on damn near everything. He may ask questions like “Are you going to move that in?” while pointing to an exhibit he insisted was marked, “If you don’t move it in, it isn’t part of the evidentiary record.” In a non-trial deposition, he may say “That’s not relevant” or “I think the way you meant to phrase the question is…” While he may be trying to be genuinely helpful, the better odds are on him trying to subtly fuck you straight up the ass with the help of whatever little blue pills men his age keep in their shirt pocket.
The single best thing about the Blowhard is he’s overconfident. Very rarely do these guys not believe their own hype. They’ll assume that your deposition went poorly even when it went well, and confuse talking about their vast experience for providing actual support for their positions. Many times, the Blowhard will be a partner at Dewey, Cheatum, and Howe and have spent his time preparing for the deposition by preening in the mirror and drafting some vague, general outline. These are the types of guys who tend to think they shit solid gold.
The single worst thing about the Blowhard is he makes you doubt yourself. Especially for younger attorneys, it’s intimidating to have a seasoned litigator scoffing at you from the other side. If you haven’t conducted more than a couple depositions before, you may find yourself leaning on the Blowhard, because he’s seeming helpful and he has more experience than you. Let me repeat this so you understand exactly what I just said: You may, because of his experience, find yourself relying on opposing counsel during the examination of his client.
Throat punch the son of a bitch.
Once again, don’t throat punch the son of a bitch. The key to dealing with a blowhard is actually pretty obvious: don’t. His experience doesn’t mean jack shit to you if you’ve actually prepared for the deposition. If you’ve gone over the case and your questions, and you’ve crafted your questions and outline in a studious manner, the Blowhard’s experience in formalistic matters isn’t a huge fucking deal. The case is what the case is. Also, don’t fucking defer to him. This isn’t law school, you aren’t trying to impress the son of a bitch into hiring you (or maybe you are, I don’t know your employment situation). In any case, you need to remember this man, during the course of the deposition, is the fucking enemy. He is not your friend, and he is not your mentor. You are a lawyer, too.
The single best way to deflate a Blowhard, though, is when they rely on bad law. This will, at some point, happen. They’ve been practicing 32 years, and they know the cases…but they may not know the case that came down just last week on some minor matter at issue. If they cite a case you know is bad in support of their objection or the relevance of an issue, stay on the record and point out their error.
Speaking of the record…Don’t go off the record with a Blowhard as often as you would with anyone else. You want as much on the record as possible. Once you’re back on the record, you want to be the one putting the bones of that discussion into the record. Don’t let him. He’ll steamroll you every fucking time.
Also, see if you can get any of those pills. Do you have any idea what they go for on the market?
Lawyer 4: The Rabbit
You ever watch King of the Hill? Remember Boomhauer? He was the fast-talking sonuvabitch that ran every word together. Now, being from the South originally, I grew up around some folks that naturally talked like that, so the humor was lost on me. I could understand Boomhauer. The Rabbit is kind of like that.
The Rabbit doesn’t want to be in depositions. The Rabbit has shit to do elsewhere, and these are just a waste of his precious, precious time. The Rabbit will press for you to hurry things along, insist on taking breaks to make phone calls because he only had planned on depositions lasting an hour for some reason, and reads through his questions with machine-gun speed in the deadest damn voice you could ever imagine. He’s not even listening to the answers, from all appearances. He’s just asking the questions, getting the answer into the record, and immediately jumps to the next question. At least twice in the deposition the Rabbit will be told, politely at first and then with great restraint, to slow the fuck down by the court reporter.
The single biggest plus to dealing with a Rabbit is you’re going to have time left at the end of the day to talk to your client and do other, non-deposition related, shit. The Rabbit wants it done fast, and you have other matters to attend to, so it seems to be a win-win.
The Rabbit is definitely listening to those answers, and is asking these questions in such a fast way to set a pattern with the witness. Ask, answer, move the fuck on. This leaves very little room for you to object, and very little time for your client to consider the answer before its given. People are creatures of habit, and if they get in the habit of answering a question quickly they’ll do so…even if the answer isn’t the best one, and sometimes even if the answer isn’t really correct. By the time you’ve noticed and started to object, however, the Rabbit has moved on to the next question.
Plus, clients aren’t great listeners. Once that pattern’s set, the client is likely to respond without really hearing the question that was asked. Hell, maybe you won’t exactly hear the question that was asked. This is dangerous. Your client should not be putting testimony on the record without both the client and the counsel being aware of what exactly the question was. The Rabbit understands this, and is trying to use it to his advantage.
Throat punch the son of a bitch.
I’m…actually kind of okay with throat punching the Rabbit. It’ll at least get him to take a fucking breath between sentences. But you probably shouldn’t have “Deponent’s counsel throat-punched the fast-talker” on the record. So we’ll go with a more peaceful solution.
First, prep your client. If your client starts answering too quickly, have a signal planned out to let them know to pause. Let a client know “Can you clarify that question?” is an appropriate response.
Second, don’t be shy in calling the asshole out on it. When he finishes a question, be ready to jump in with this: “Could you repeat that? You’re talking a little too fast for me.” Do it several times. “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear that, it was really too quick.” Put it on the record. Eventually the Rabbit will slow down, and if he doesn’t you’re getting on the record that the Rabbit is being a fucking machine gun of questions for when you later have to explain away why your client responded as he did to a question.
Lawyer 5: The Wildcard
Nobody knows what the Wildcard will do next, not even the fucking Wildcard. This guy is entirely unprepared in the traditional sense of the word. He has some questions written down somewhere, and a bag full of potential exhibits, but other than that he’s spent next to no time preparing for this deposition. That makes the Wildcard an unknown quantity, and that’s fucking terrifying in law. He’s going to ask for time to go through his notes, and at some point they’ll be spread all over the conference table. The words “Uh” and “Um” will preface damn near every word. You don’t know what he was expecting, but it appears less like he’s a lawyer and more like he just sort of woke up wearing a suit in the room and is now desperately trying to keep his shit together.
The Wildcard is disorganized and confused, and can easily be led astray. The Wildcard may be more prone to conceding a point rather than arguing it with you. The Wildcard will say things that he shouldn’t say on the record. The Wildcard may or may not be aware there are generally donuts provided, and if he isn’t, there will be additional donuts available for you after the deposition.
The Wildcard may also know exactly what he’s fucking doing and just be waiting for you and your client to be lulled into a false sense of security before striking. He may have carefully planned this whole facade of being an incompetent asshole so halfway through he can pull a carefully organized set of documents out of his stained canvas brief bag, set them on the table, and start grilling the fuck out of your client. There’s just no fucking way to know which one it is.
Throat punch the son of a bitch.
Outside of intense preparation and knowing every goddamn aspect of your case, there’s simply no way to prepare for a Wildcard. You won’t know what he’s going to do until he does it. You need to keep your guard up until the deposition concludes, and you need to be thinking in the long term. Unlike the other four types, there’s no clear strategy present in the Wildcard’s performance, and at the drop of a hat the Wildcard can go from a disorganized asshole to the Obstructionist, the Buddy Guy, the Rabbit, or the Blowhard. You just…won’t…know.
So yeah, throat punch the son of a bitch.
There. The Five Lawyers You Meet In Depositions. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I was made aware this morning that Federal Fucking Judges are reading this blog, so it’s time to start burning shit.