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

Fort Bragg, NC |
Filed under: Lawsuits and disputes

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

Posted

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 does not create an attorney client relationship and is not a substitute for having a consultation with an attorney. It is important to have a consultation with an attorney as the information provided in this forum is limited and cannot possibly cover all potential issues in a given situation.

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Christopher Daniel Leroi

Christopher Daniel Leroi

Posted

Great response by Ms. Larkin

Posted

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-client relationship is created with the furnishing of this information. Attorney licensed in North Carolina only.

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Asker

Posted

Thank you. The answer to my question was no, I do not have to bring medical records to a deposition and that they should be subpoenaed. I have already submtted interrogatories and supplements to those. I fully understand that counsel is attempting to get an admission that has not been given for MSJ purposes, an attorney at this point would not be practical.

Asker

Posted

Question?? As a pro se litgant, how does attorney-client privilleged factor in ?

Kenneth Love Jr.

Kenneth Love Jr.

Posted

It can't; without an attorney there is no attorney client privilege.

Posted

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 other than the educated opinions of the author. The responses may or may not apply to you and should not be relied upon as ACTUAL legal advice. Rather, what is being provided here is legal information that would be best followed through on with a consult with an attorney after learning more about your specific facts, needs, legal issues, and goals.

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Asker

Posted

It's a civil case in federal court.

Andrea Winters Morelos

Andrea Winters Morelos

Posted

Sorry, I meant what area of law and the kinds of things being sued for and what affirmative defenses there might be. I already assumed it was civil. And the rules are pretty similar whether Federal or State Court, but can be complex and needing the expertise of an attorney to best guide you and advocate for you in a deposition if you are already suspecting uncouth questions. I did forget to talk about the medical records. Anything that is arguably relevant (and the scope is LIBERAL), then you will need to produce it. They shouldn't be able to subpoena such documents without your release (think HIPAA), but it wouldn't likely be a valid objection. If you have received written discovery questions (interrogatories, admissions, and/or request for documents), you really need to see a lawyer. And ASAP due to the deadlines. Federal Court is different in how serious they are with their drop dead dates. Believe me I know!

Asker

Posted

I have already responded to discovery and have just sent a new set of interrogatories to them. I have come to understand the process, but thank you.

Andrea Winters Morelos

Andrea Winters Morelos

Posted

That's good then! Well we do wish you luck and hope that you were able to glean at least a little insight since with this website you get input from several attorneys and for free. That's a good start!

Asker

Posted

This forum has helped me tremendous....those attorneys out there know who they are. If not for them I would never had made it this far!

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