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Bentonville, Arkansas

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Ryan Scott
Ryan Scott
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Depositions: No Coaching Allowed

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Too often in our experiences with depositions, the process is turned into what it should not be– a heated contest and battle of wits between opposing counsel. This is exactly the opposite of what the rules and the courts sanction a deposition to be.

Unfortunately, many attorneys believe it is their right (and duty) to coach a witness. The most obvious example is when an attorney objects to a question (which is allowed), but then adds, "Answer only if you know the answer." This is a not-so-subtle way of telling the witness to say, "I don’t know." This kind of coaching is adverse to the purpose of a deposition and against the rules. Arkansas Rule of Civil Procedure 30(d)(1) states:

"Any objection during a deposition must be stated concisely and in a non-argumentative and non-suggestive manner."

Unfortunately, our firm often must remind opposing counsel that this is the rule. We support our assertion by case law that says depositions should be question and and answer sessions between a lawyer and a witness aimed at uncovering the facts in a lawsuit. Strategic interruptions and subtle coaching defeats the purpose of a deposition; to find and fix the truth.

It is for this reason that our firm goes to great lengths to ensure that a deposition is fair, and the truth is unimpeded by a lawyer’s coaching. We give opposing counsel a copy of the rules and case law and politely ask that he or she limit their objections to a form that does not suggest and answer. This way, we can ensure that our client gets the benefit of a full and fair search for the truth that is unfiltered by the strategic interruptions of an attorney.