Question from Penny, Can a Deponent Use a Laptop for Notes During a Deposition?
Answer from AI:
When participating in a deposition, there are certain protocols and rules that deponents and attorneys must follow. These rules can vary by jurisdiction and the specific orders of the court or agreement between the parties. Here’s a general overview of what is typically allowed and what might be considered interference during a deposition.
Using a Laptop for Notes During a Deposition
Generally, deponents are not allowed to use laptops or other electronic devices to take notes during a deposition. This is because the deposition is a formal legal proceeding where the deponent’s testimony is recorded verbatim by a court reporter. The use of electronic devices could potentially distract the deponent, disrupt the flow of questioning, or raise concerns about the introduction of unauthorized materials or coaching.
- Deponents are usually expected to answer questions from memory without the aid of notes or documents, unless those documents have been specifically referenced and are part of the deposition exhibit.
- If a deponent needs to refer to a document to refresh their memory, they must typically request permission from the questioning attorney or the deponent’s attorney may intervene.
What Should a Deponent Have in Front of Them During a Deposition?
During a deposition, a deponent should generally have nothing in front of them except for:
- Any documents provided by the attorneys as exhibits for reference during the deposition.
- A glass of water or other necessities for comfort.
Bringing personal notes, electronic devices, or other materials without prior agreement or court order could be objected to by the opposing counsel.
Can a Defense Lawyer Restate Questions and Discuss with Deponent?
A defense lawyer can clarify questions for their client, but there are limits to this practice. Under the American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 3.7, a lawyer cannot act as an advocate at a trial in which the lawyer is likely to be a necessary witness, except in certain circumstances. However, Rule 3.7 does not directly address the conduct of attorneys during depositions.
The more relevant rule regarding attorney conduct during depositions would be Rule 3.4, which covers fairness to opposing party and counsel. It prohibits attorneys from unlawfully obstructing another party’s access to evidence or unlawfully altering, destroying, or concealing a document or other material having potential evidentiary value.
- Attorneys can ask for clarifications or rephrase questions for their clients, but they cannot coach or suggest answers.
- Excessive interruptions or conferences between an attorney and their client during questioning could be seen as obstructive.
- Private discussions between a deponent and their attorney are generally not permitted while a question is pending, except to assert a privilege or to make an objection.
If an attorney’s conduct during a deposition is deemed to interfere with the questioning, it could be subject to objections and potential sanctions by the court.
It is important for deponents and attorneys to understand the rules and etiquette of depositions to avoid any allegations of misconduct. If there are any uncertainties about what is permissible during a deposition, it is advisable to consult with a legal professional for personalized advice. For more information on deposition rules and conduct, you can refer to the American Bar Association’s guidelines or local court rules.
Remember, this information is a general guideline and the specifics can vary depending on the jurisdiction and the individual case. Always consult with a legal professional for advice tailored to your particular circumstances.