Steven Babitsky, Esq.
I was speaking with an expert witness and he described his problem at deposition:
“I do very well generally at my depositions. I am well-prepared, know my stuff, and have experience. The problem is it takes me 20-30 minutes to warm up during my deposition, so in the beginning of them I do not usually do well.”
I explained to him:
“You need to warm up in the bullpen like any good pitcher and hit the ground running at the very start of all depositions. Excellent trial lawyers often will go for the jugular and the first few minutes may also be the last few minutes of they get what they need.”
One of the nation’s leading trial lawyers, W. Mark Lanier, of Houston recently gave two classic examples of very brief but yet devastating deposition:
Q. Is our name John Doe?
Q. Are you the head of safety for ABC Corp?
Q. Well, it’s not safe to have oil on the floor where people are working, is it?
Q. Because you can foresee that someone might slip, right?
Q. And that’s the way someone can have a career-ending injury, isn’t it?
Q. We’re done.
Q. Are you John Doe?
A. You know I am.
Q. Are you the CEO of company XYZ?
Q. Where’d you grow up?
A. New York, New York.
Q. Well, I grew up in Lubbock, Texas and one of the things my parents taught me growing up was that my word is my bond. I have to do what I say. Did your parents teach you that in New York, New York?
A. No. What’s your point.
Q. My point is that your company broke its agreement with my client, and I’m trying to figure out if you have a few rotten apples at the company or if it’s rotten all the way up to the top.
A. You listen to me. My company exists to make money. I instruct my people to make money. If my people can make more money walking away from an agreement, then they better walk away from it or they won’t be working here any longer.
Q. Ok, thank you.
Expert witnesses need to be ready for difficult question at the beginning of their depositions.
About the Author
Steven Babitsky, Esq. is the President of SEAK, Inc, the Testifying Training Company. For more information, please visit www.testifyingtraining.com.