September 25th, 2002

abstract butterfly

Is this the dagger I see before me?

Today I took a very short deposition in a very small case. It's amusing, this process. The witness sits next to a court reporter, across from the questioning attorney. The attorney asks the questions, but attorney's mind is not lost to the usual run of conversational chatter that accompanies a normal question and answer in a normal chat. Instead, the attorney tries to picture each word as it will look typed out on the printed page. Similarly, each answer is mentally reviewed to see "how will this read?". How does one learn this skill? Simple--during the first few years of one's career, one reads transcripts that result when one does not handle things this way. Can you say "dangling participle"? Can you say "indefinite reference"? Can you say "prepositional phrase madness"? Can you say "what the heck is he saying?". Can you say "gee, I thought I had her, but the transcript is so vague nobody can tell what she means". Deposition is not my favorite part of law practice, but it is a curious sensation--not how does it sound, but how will it look on the page? One of our local federal judges actually has a monthly column which memorializes silly questions asked by attorneys at deposition and at trial. So far, I've not been quoted there, but who knows if fame will always elude me.