What types of questions are absolutely off limits in a deposition hearing?

Asked 6 months ago - Fort Bragg, NC

Do I have to answer every questioned asked during a deposition, even if it is not directly related to the matter at hand. I understand that I do not have to narrate, but if I am ask a question about my sexual orientation , etc. (which is hetro and not an issue, but I needed an extreme example), can I object to this? Also, must I provide medical records or can they be subpoenaed?

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Michael Scott Rothrock

    Contributor Level 15


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Do you have an attorney? If so, then direct these inquiries to them as they are in the best position to answer them and tailor it to your specific situation. If you do not have an attorney, I would strongly recommend retaining one before your deposition and definitely before any hearing or trial.

    Depositions are governed under our rules of discovery (see, generally, Rules of Civil Procedure 26-37). The standard for what may be asked in a deposition is different from what may be asked in a trial. A trial is governed by the rules of evidence. In discovery, an attorney may ask anything that is reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. Most attorneys also agree to what are called "standard stipulations" in a deposition, and one of those stipulations is that objections to questions and motions to strike answers need not be made during the taking of the deposition, but may be made for the first time during the progress of the trial or any pre-trial hearing on the matter.

    Generally, the only times it is proper to not answer a question in a deposition are when 1) the information sought is subject to a protective order or is otherwise protected under law, 2) the information sought would incriminate a person in violation of their 5th amendment rights, or 3) the information sought is subject to a privilege, such as the physician-patient privilege or attorney-client privilege. Privileges can be waived either expressly or impliedly by the deponent. One can also object to the form of a question (e.g., it is vague, leading, etc.). Objections to the form must be made during the deposition.

    As for the medical records, typically if those are being sought they are sought through a request for production or documents. If a person wants someone to bring documents to a deposition, a subpoena should be issued. Whether you must produce the medical records depends on what this lawsuit is about. For example, in a personal injury matter the defense is entitled to the plaintiffs' medical records, and our courts have held that the plaintiff, by placing their health in issue in the case, impliedly waives their physician-patient privilege.

    This information is provided for general purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. No attorney-... more
  2. Shaye Larkin

    Contributor Level 20


    Lawyers agree


    Answered . What is an appropriate question depends on the nature of the lawsuit. Here are some typical objections that can be raised in a deposition when appropriate:

    1. The question has already been asked and answered
    2. Harassing the Witness
    3. Calls for speculation
    4. Overbroad
    5. Vague
    6. Not warranted by existing law
    7. Improper purpose (to harass witness)
    8. Irrelevant inquiry
    9. The information requested will not lead to admissible evidence
    10. Information requested is protected attorney work product
    11. The question calls for contentions prior to completion of discovery
    12. Invades right to privacy
    15. Priveledged attorney-client communications
    18. The question assumes facts not in evidence
    19. The question calls for speculation
    20. The deponent has no personal knowledge of the information requested

    The information provided herein is general information only and not legal advice. The information provided herein... more
  3. Andrea Winters Morelos


    Contributor Level 13


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Unfortunately we would have to know at least a little more as to what type of lawsuit this was about, especially the claims and defenses involved before comfortably being able to opine as to what might be objectionable vs relevant. But typically, all questions do need to get answered in that forum (which initially is closed to the court/public and only to be used later if it DOES meet the discovery rules on relevancy, etc.) but you should definitely list your VALID objections for the record in the deposition and the court reporter will note that for possible later reference. I have also certainly seen a few depositions in my career get SO heated or just SO beyond a mere friendly debate of relevancy that it simply had to be ended and taken up with a judge if absolutely necessary. Of course, then you are talking about more stress, hassle, expense (if you get an attorney which you should), etc. You should really try hard to have an attorney when defending a deposition, you just never know.

    The responses contained herein do not form an attorney-client relationship, nor are they intended to be anything... more

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