When An Objection Is Objectionable
Ask any attorney who’s been involved in litigation for any length of time, and they can tell you about depositions where it seemed like the defending attorney did more objecting to questions than their client did answering them. Objections are a critical tool in depositions, and litigators are permitted to make strategic use of objections. That said, objections are often abused and misused, and only a limited number of objections are permissible in depositions as opposed to trial testimony. Learn more below about when an objection during a deposition is improper, and contact an experienced Arizona court reporter for a consultation on your next Phoenix-based deposition.
Depositions are part of the discovery process. This is the phase of a case where lawyers are still in search of information that could lead to admissible evidence. In other words, not all deposition questions are required to elicit admissible evidence; rather, they’re only intended to lead the attorney to where the admissible evidence might be found. This allows the taking attorney a much broader array of subject matter for questioning during a deposition than he or she would be permitted at trial.
Most permissible objections during a deposition should be aimed at preventing protected information from ending up in the record. Nevertheless, this doesn’t stop certain combative attorneys from raising objections that don’t belong in a deposition. If a defending attorney has been asked to stop raising impermissible objections or otherwise impermissibly harassing their opposing counsel, it may warrant intervention by the presiding judge.
Objections that are impermissible during a deposition include:
Improper opinion: Since attorneys are still on the lookout for admissible evidence, asking for a witness’s opinion may be relevant to that search. The basis for a witness’s opinion can often lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.
Hearsay: A (mostly) verboten form of testimony at trial, hearsay is another form of testimony that should be permitted during a deposition. A witness’s description of the facts learned from a third party might not result in admissible testimony, but it might lead the questioning attorney to depose that third party.
Relevance: Again, since the questioning attorney is still looking for relevant evidence, questions that don’t immediately appear to be relevant could nevertheless lead them to the discovery of relevant evidence.
Coaching in the form of an objection: Some attorneys struggle mightily with the temptation to coach their client during a deposition, despite firm rules against it. Defending attorneys might interject phrases like “if you remember” as an addendum to opposing counsel’s question (and a possible nudge in their client’s ribs that they should consider not remembering that answer).
If you need the services of a skilled, experienced, and efficient court reporter in Arizona, contact Phoenix court reporters at Ottmar & Associates for a consultation at 602-485-1488 or toll-free at 1-866-485-1444.