Thursday, August 5, 2010

Magistrate Scolds Lawyers for Deposition Bickering

United States Magistrate Peggy A. Leen was faced with a 185 pages in which lawyers accused one another of behaving badly at depositions. They had behaved badly so she admonished them for it. But she also made it clear that she had better things to do than wade through hundreds of pages of tattling and whining. Mazzeo v. Gibbons, LV Police: Lawyers dressed down, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Aug. 3, 2010.
Judge Leen's order is here. Its conclusion:
The exchanges related in excruciating, repetitive detail in the moving and responsive papers and their attachments were painful to read. If I was an elementary school teacher instead of a judge I would require both counsel to write the following clearly established legal rules on a blackboard 500 times:

I will not make speaking, coaching, suggestive objections which violate Rule 30(c)(2). I am an experienced lawyer and know that objections must be concise, non-argumentative and non-suggestive. I understand that the purpose of a deposition is to find out what the witness thinks, saw, heard or did. I know that lawyers are not supposed to coach or change the witness’s own words to form a legally convenient record. I know I am prohibited from frustrating or impeding the fair examination of a deponent during the deposition. I know that constant objections and unnecessary remarks are unwarranted and frustrate opposing counsel’s right to fair examination. I know that speaking objections such as "if you remember," "if you know," "don’t guess," "you’ve answered the question," and "do you understand the question" are designed to coach the witness and are improper. I also know that counsel’s interjection that he or she does not understand the question is not a proper objection, and that if a witness needs clarification of a question, the witness may ask for the clarification.
Although these papers, and the conduct they relate, make me feel like a school marm scolding little boys, I am the judge whose duty it is to decide this motion. Accordingly, Mr. Kossack and Mr. Cannon are admonished for engaging in conduct which I know you know violates Rule 30(c)(2). You are better men and better lawyers than the conduct in which you have engaged illustrates.
Judge Leen very clearly was fed up with these lawyers, but that last sentence is classy.

Recusal Because of Remarks at Conference?

In a biotech case -- about the patentability of two breast cancer genes -- plaintiffs are asking the chief judge of the Federal Circuit to recuse himself, even before the panel is selected, because of remarks he made at a conference about the issue. Citing Possible Bias, ACLU Asks Rader to Recuse Himself in Myriad Case, Corporate Counsel (, Aug. 5, 2010.