Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Speaking Objections in Deposition

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure  require that objections raised during a deposition be “nonargumentative” and “nonsuggestive.”  FED. R. CIV. P. 30(c)(2).  The defending lawyer is entitled to preserve the objection on the record, but he is not entitled to get in your way.  “Nonargumentative” means just that— no argument.  Nonsuggestive means that he cannot suggest an answer to the witness.  Courts today are generally on board with these concepts.  See Specht v. Google, Inc., 268 F.R.D. 596, 598 (N.D. Ill. 2010) (“Objections that are argumentative or that suggest an answer to a witness are called ‘speaking objections’ and are improper under Rule 30(c)(2).”); Amari Co. v. Burgess, 2009 WL 1269704, at *1 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 30, 2009) (“The gist of this rule is simple: unless the attorney claims the question calls for privileged information, the attorney must only state his objection and allow the client to answer.”); JSR Micro, Inc. v. QBE Ins. Corp., 2010 WL 1338152, at *10 (N.D. Cal. Apr. 5, 2010) (“Rule 30(c)(2) makes very plain that these objections were not a proper basis for an instruction not to answer.  Nor were they stated in a nonargumentative and nonsuggestive manner.”).

The form in which objections must be stated varies somewhat from court to court.  Many courts limit defending parties to simple, declarative statements, such as ‘objection, form’ unless  the examiner asks for the basis.  See Turner v. Glock, Inc., 2004 WL 5511620, at *1 (E.D. Tex. Mar. 29, 2004) (“As stated in Local Rule CV–30 . . . objections to questions during an oral deposition must be limited to ‘Objection, leading’ and ‘Objection, form.’”); Tuerkes-Beckers, Inc. v. New Castle Assocs., 158 F.R.D. 573, 575 (D. Del. 1993) (“Objections as to the form of the question should be limited to the words ‘Objection, form.’ All other objections should be limited to the word ‘Objection’ and a brief identification of the ground, preferably in no more than three words.”).  Some courts permit a one- or two-word explanation of the basis, at the time of form objection, such as: “Objection, compound.”   See Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank v. Morgan Stanley & Co., 2011 WL 4526141, at *8 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 21, 2011) (“‘Objections should generally be limited to the statement “objection as to form and the basis for such objection, i.e., compound question . . . .”’” (quoting the Honorable Shira Scheindlin’s Suggested Rule of Discovery Practice)).

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