Deposition objections are very important tools in handling a deposition. A deposition is a pre-trial proceeding where a witness is questioned under oath by the opposing party’s attorney. Depositions are an important part of the discovery process, as they allow the parties to gather information about the case and prepare for trial.
During a deposition, the witness may be asked questions about any relevant matter. However, there are certain types of questions that are objectionable. Objections are made to preserve the record and to prevent the opposing party from introducing inadmissible evidence at trial.
TYPES OF DEPOSITION OBJECTIONS
In California, there are a number of different types of deposition objections. Some of the most common objections include:
- Relevance: This objection is made when the question is not relevant to the case.
- Hearsay: This objection is made when the question is based on the testimony of someone who is not present at the deposition.
- Leading: This objection is made when the question suggests the answer that the witness should give.
- Improper form: This objection is made when the question is ambiguous, compound, or otherwise improperly phrased.
- Privilege: This objection is made when the question is asking about information that is protected by a privilege, such as the attorney-client privilege or the physician-patient privilege.
If an objection is made during a deposition, the deposing attorney must either rephrase the question or move on to another topic. The objecting attorney may also choose to make a record of the objection for future use.
It is important to note that not all objections are valid. For example, an objection to the relevance of a question will only be sustained if the question is truly irrelevant to the case. If the question is only marginally relevant, the objection will likely be overruled.
It is also important to know that objections must be made timely. If an objection is not made at the deposition, it may be waived, meaning that the opposing party will be able to introduce the objectionable evidence at trial.
Deposition objections can be a complex and technical area of law. If you have any questions about deposition objections, you should consult with an experienced attorney.
Here are some additional tips for making deposition objections:
- Be specific about the grounds for your objection.
- State the objection in a clear and concise manner.
- Do not argue with the deposing attorney about the objection.
- If the objection is overruled, ask the deposing attorney to rephrase the question.
- Make a record of the objection for future use.
By following these tips, you can help to ensure that your deposition objections are preserved for future use.
Here are some common types of deposition objections with more specificity:
- Form Objections: This type of objection is made when the question being asked is poorly worded, leading, argumentative, compound, vague, or ambiguous. The objecting attorney might say something like, “Objection, the question is vague.”
Poorly Worded: A question is considered poorly worded if it’s unclear what exactly is being asked. Example: “So, you went to the place and did the thing with the person, right?” An objection could be, “Objection, the question is poorly worded and unclear.”
Leading: A leading question is one that suggests the answer within the question itself, often used to lead a witness to a particular answer. It’s generally not permitted when examining your own witness but allowed for cross-examination. Example: “You were at the scene of the accident, weren’t you?” An objection could be, “Objection, the question is leading.”
Argumentative: Argumentative questions are those that are not really designed to elicit information but are instead designed to argue with the witness or put words in their mouth. Example: “Isn’t it true that you’re just making all of this up?” An objection could be, “Objection, the question is argumentative.”
Compound: A compound question is one that actually contains multiple questions. The problem with such questions is that it can be unclear which part of the question the witness is responding to. Example: “Did you see the car and did you hear the crash?” An objection could be, “Objection, the question is compound.”
Vague: A question is vague if it’s not specific enough for the witness to provide an accurate answer. Example: “Can you tell us about the things that happened that day?” An objection could be, “Objection, the question is vague.”
Ambiguous: An ambiguous question is one that could be interpreted in more than one way. Example: “Did you see him at the party?” when it’s not clear who “him” refers to. An objection could be, “Objection, the question is ambiguous.”
- Relevance Objections: This objection is raised when the question being asked doesn’t appear to be relevant to the issues in the case. However, keep in mind that the discovery process often allows for a broader scope of inquiry than what is allowed at trial, so even if you object on these grounds, the deponent may still have to answer.
- Privilege Objections: If a question seeks information that is covered by a legal privilege (like attorney-client privilege or doctor-patient privilege), you would object to protect that confidential information from being disclosed.
- Hearsay Objections: Although hearsay evidence is often more freely allowed in depositions than at trial, there may be instances where it’s appropriate to object to a question that seeks hearsay evidence. The main purpose would be to establish a record for later, as the deponent will still likely have to answer the question.
- Harassment or Bad Faith: If the questioning attorney is being harassed, using the deposition for a purpose in bad faith (like to annoy or embarrass the deponent), or asking questions about matters that have been asked and answered repeatedly, an objection can be made.
- Instructions Not to Answer: These are very rare, and typically only made when a question calls for privileged information or is so inappropriate or harassing that an attorney feels they must instruct their client not to answer. This should be used sparingly and only when absolutely necessary.