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Can I take deposition of opposing party's witnesses if I am not an attorney?

Pompano Beach, FL |

I have an administrative hearing and I am going to represent myself. I am the petitioner and I want to know if I can depose the recipient's witnesses (the recipient being a licensing state agency). Can I do that?. If I know what they will say, do I need to depose them?. Can I use motion to summary judgment in an administrative hearing?. The state agency gave false violations that I have documents to prove just that. It will be a waste of court's time to be in this hearing. The agency intends to revoke my facility license for pattern of deficiencies but they don't have real deficiencies...they are all false. There is no pattern. The agency decided to revoke my license based on one inspector survey. Three other inspectors that came afterwards cleared everything saying "corrected".

Attorney Answers 5

  1. Honestly - This is an area where I would really seek to hire an attorney as administrative law is very complex and special evidentiary rules apply. And obviously because this is a very serious matter that you feel should be pursued legally then it should also be treated as serious enough for you to get the best representation possible to assist you in this matter! Others may disagree, but this is my candid opinion. I truly wish you the best of luck! As an aside, if you found my direction helpful, and if you feel appropriate; could you be so kind as to designate my answer as the “best” answer to your question?

  2. Mr. Ahtirski is dead on with his analysis. You need counsel!!

    In no way am I offering you legal advice, and in no way has my comment created an attorney-client relationship. You are not to rely upon my note above in any way, but insted need to sit down with counsel and share all relevant facts before receiving fully-informed legal advice. If you want to be completely sure of your rights, you must sit down with an experienced criminal defense attorney to be fully aware of your rights.

  3. You need an attorney working in administrative law. If your case is still in the investigative stage you will have limited discovery. However, if an administrative complaint has been lodged against you then you have full discovery rights including deposing any state witnesses. Just because you think you know what the witness will say, you still will want to depose him/her. There is no summary judgment phase in the Florida administrative proceedings.
    Agency disciplinary proceedings have different standards of proof than civil proceedings. Admin judges are also required to follow precedent of prior punishments so a good attorney will research prior punishments and will be prepared to argue against any inflated charges. Recently, I have found the state seeking much higher penalties (to make more money) than in previous cases. The Admin judge will require the state to stick to its prior precedent. Without knowing any of the facts of your matter, it sounds like there is a lot of work to do. You need an admin law attorney. Get a free consultation and ask for the attorney's prior experience in Admin law cases and with DOAH.

    The information provided is not legal advice and no attorney client relationship will arise based upon this information. If you decide to retain an attorney a separate discussion regarding your rights will have to occur. Do not rely on any of the information provided in deciding whether or not to act. David Fraser disclaims any liability for actions that are taken by individuals based upon the information provided. CONSULT AN ATTORNEY IN YOUR JURISDICTION BEFORE TAKING ANY LEGAL ACTION.

  4. Agree with the other answers here. The short answer to your question is yes you can take depositions, however you should really hire an attorney who knows the law applicable to your specific circumstances, and perhaps more importantly knows the rules of evidence and how to conduct discovery. If you think you can represent yourself effectively you are doing yourself a great disservice. A wise judge once said the attorney who represents himself has a fool for a client. Do yourself a favor and hire an attorney to represent you.

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  5. Although my colleagues have already advised you to get an attorney, I wanted to add myself to that list. Since you have a STATE agency seeking to revoke your license, this is not the time to be penny-wise and dollar foolish. IF you are wrong about your ability to represent yourself, you will will lose, Perhaps, since you think their claims are ridiculous, there may be something that you aren't seeing. That is the number one reason that people ought not represent themselves: because you can't see the issues clearly and without emotion. IF you lose, the cost to undo what has been done will be exponentially greater. Unfortunately, I have seen this happen too many times. Each time, I advised my "client" (usually a friend or family member) the same way you are being advised by myself and my colleagues. I don't want to be in a position to say "I told you so." But, you could really do yourself some harm by trying to do this yourself. Yes, I realize that the expense is outrageous given that you believe the claims are baseless, but if you're gong to engage in a state-licensed business, you need to prepare for situations just like this one.

    Remember, anyone listening to you will automatically think that you could be lying simply because of your own self interest. As a practical matter, a lawyer making exactly the argument that you will make, will be much more persuasive than you could ever be. In addition, it might just be possible that a lawyer who practices in this area of law, and has completed hearings like this one before, just might know something about this procedure that you do not.

    If you seek out the proper lawyer, the cost doesn't have to be arm-breaking. At least consult with a few different lawyers. Many lawyers will do a free 30-minutes consultation. Start there. If nothing else, you may learn something during your consolations. Good luck.