• August 1, 2012

In many countries’ civil litigation systems, there are actually judges or other representatives of the court that attend depositions.  In the United States, this is very rarely the case.  The kids play with no baby-sitter.

9 times out of 10, this works out fairly well but every once in a while, the “fact-gathering” goal of depositions is buried deep under lawyers’ (or witnesses’!) posturing, incivility, stone-walling, bullying, and other juvenile conduct.  Sometimes a lawyer might have a feeling about a certain case or a certain adversary.  Maybe it is a good idea to agree to some “ground rules” at the front end?

Minnesota Litigator has yet to be involved in civil litigation in which the lawyers expressly negotiate and enter into an agreement to abide by the rules of civil procedure and, more broadly, agree to embrace the rules of civility and common decency.  Apparently it happens.

But this reminds me of a chastity club — that is, a commitment to an ideal where the very invocation of the shared effort seems to plant the seeds of its low likelihood of success.

Maybe I am wrong.  I would be interested in hearing from lawyers who have used such agreements and interested to hear if they believe they facilitate better conduct in depositions.

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