Professionalism in Depositions

The Importance of Local Practice and Common Courtesy

By Angela D. Lydon

Professionalism In DepositionsPRO HAC VICE Admission is an invaluable tool when a client seeks your counsel for an out-of-state matter. Normally, a review of the local rules and adherence to generally accepted practices are sufficient to enable a successful appearance. However, a recent case from the Northern District of Iowa illustrates that practicing in an unfamiliar jurisdiction can be far from straightforward. Even defending a deposition – an act which few seasoned lawyers would consider daunting – can have serious, unintended consequences for an outsider who does not understand the court’s (sometimes unwritten) customs and preferences.

The Security National Case

In Security Nat’l Bank Labs. Of Sioux City v. Abbott Laboratories, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 102228 (N.D. Iowa July 28, 2014), Judge Bennett recently sanctioned a well-respected, out-of-state lawyer for what he characterized as “obstructionist” deposition conduct. The opinion was noteworthy for several reasons, not the least of which is the fact that Judge Bennett took issue with counsel’s repeated use of “objections as to form” without offering any grounds for the objection. In Judge Bennett’s view, “form” objections are improper because they merely refer to a “category of objections” that includes leading, lack of foundation, assuming facts not in evidence, non-responsive answer, and witness’ answers that were beyond the scope of the question. According to Judge Bennett, “form” objections “are inefficient and frustrate the goals underlying the Federal Rules because they contain no information about a question’s alleged defect and make it difficult or impossible for a reviewing court to determine whether the objection was proper or frivolous.

Judge Bennett is not alone in his view that “form objections are inappropriate. For example, Cuyahoga County Court of Common Please Local Rule 13.1 provides: “Counsel may interpose an objection by stating ‘objection’ and the legal grounds for the objection.” Several judges agree that “form” objections merely refer to a category of objections. See, e.g., NGM Ins. Co. v. Walker Const. & Dev., LC 2012 U.S. dist. LEXIS 177161, at *2 (E.D. Tenn. Dec 13, 2012) (explaining that “form” objections refer to objections to leading questions, a lack of proper foundation, questions assuming facts not in evidence, and argumentative questions.”); Rakes v. Life Investors Ins. Co. of Am., 2008 U.S Dist LEXIS 10996, at *5 (N.D. Iowa Feb. 14, 2008) (permitting the objection “to state in a few words the manner in which the question is defective as to form(e.g., compound, vague as to time, misstates the record, etc.)”).

Conversely, many judges condone or even prefer the sue of unspecified “form” objections. See, e.g., Cincinnati Ins. Co. v. Serrano, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1363, at *5 (D. Kan. Jan. 5, 2012) (objections to vagueness “should be limited to an objection ‘to form,’ unless opposing counsel requests further clarification); Druck Corp v. Macro Fund (U.S.) Ltd., 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16721, at *4 (S.D.N.Y. Aug 12, 2005) (“[A] ny ‘objection as to form’ must say only those four words, unless the questioner asks the objector to state a reason.”); Turner v. Glock, Inc., 2004 WL 5511620, at *1 (E.D. Tex. Mar. 29, 2004) (“All other objections to questions during an oral deposition must be limited to ‘Objection, leading’ and “Objection, form.”’); In re St. Jude Med., Inc., 2002 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28020, at *5 (D. Minn. May 24, 2002) (“Objecting counsel shall say simply the word ‘objection’ and no more, to preserve all objections as to form.”); Auscape Int’l v. Nat’l Geographic Soc’y, 2002 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16675, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 6, 2002) (“Once counsel representing any party states, ‘Objection’ following a question, then all parties have preserved all possible objections to the form of the question.”)

This difference in opinion among judges may be attributed to the fact that the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure are far from clear on this issue. Rule 30 (c)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides: “An objection must be stated concisely in a nonargumentative and nonsuggestive manner.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 30 (c)(2) (emphasis added). Rule 32 (d)(3) cautions that certain objections are waived if not timely made during the course of the deposition, including those objections that “relate [] to the manner of taking the deposition” and the “form of a question or answer.” Fed. R. Vic P. 32(d)(43) (emphasis added). The advisory committee notes add that “objections on grounds that might be immediately obviated, removed, or cured, such as to the form of a question or the responsiveness of an answer” must be made at the time of the deposition. Based on this language, “many lawyers – and courts for that matter – assume that uttering the word ‘form’ is sufficient to state a valid objection.” See Security Nat’l Bank.

Giving the conflicting precedent, Judge Bennett did not sanction the out-of-state attorney specifically for her use of “form” objections. Instead, he stated, “lawyers should consider themselves warned: Unspecified ‘form’ objections are improper and will invite sanctions if lawyers choose to use them in the future.”

Judge Bennett was not so tolerant, however, in addressing the attorney’s overall behavior during the deposition. Indeed, he sua sponte imposed sanctions on the attorney and her firm for obstructionist deposition conduct,” explaining that the improper “form” objections “amplified two other issues: witness coaching and excessive interruptions.” Judge Bennett explained that he was “shocked” by the out-of-state attorney’s hundreds of unnecessary objections and interruptions during deposition questioning. Most of the objections were meritless and often influenced the witnesses’ responses: “Counsel’s improper objections, coaching and interruptions went far beyond what judges should tolerate of any lawyer, let alone one as experienced and skilled as counsel.”

Local Implications of the Security National Case

Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Judge Michael P. Donnelly shares Judge Bennett’s desire to curb unprofessional conduct during depositions. Judge Donnelly is committed to advancing the ideals of professionalism throughout all facets of our legal system. To that end, he is a member and (and two-time former chairman) of the Ohio Supreme Court’s Commission on Professionalism.

Judge Donnelly noted that the Ohio Supreme Court’s Commission on Professionalism considers unprofessional conduct during depositions a serious and growing problem. In his opinion, unprofessional deposition conduct not only adds unnecessary delay and expense to litigation, but also erodes public confidence in attorneys and the entire judicial system. He expressed his disappointment over the fact that YouTube has become riddled with videos showcasing unprofessional attorney conduct during depositions.

In an effort to deter obstructionist deposition conduct, the commission published the “Do’s and Don’ts of Depositions.” Ohio Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism, Professionalism Do’s and Don’ts: Depositions, (last visited 9/26/14). This publication begins: “If there is one area of the practice of law that consistently gives rise to an inordinate number of complaints about lack of professionalism, it is the area of depositions.” The guidelines include the following: (1) do arrive on time; (2) do be prepared, having multiple copies of all pertinent documents available; and (3) don’t “engage in conduct that would be inappropriate in the presence of a judge.” Cuyahoga County Local Rule 13.1 (I) incorporates these guidelines and conveys the expectations that “all attorneys practicing before the Court … adhere to the best practices contained in this document.”

Judge Donnelly and Judge Bennett agree that judges must demonstrate their willingness to sanction attorneys for unprofessional and improper deposition conduct. Judge Donnelly stated that ‘it is incumbent upon the bench to take a stand against obstructionist discovery conduct.” Similarly, Judge Bennett wrote in Security Nat’l Bank that “[u]nless judges impose serious adverse consequences, like court-imposed sanctions,” these discovery abuses will continue to occur because obstructionist discovery tactics will continue to succeed.

However, Judge Donnelly believes professionalism is a shared responsibility; “Attorneys must also be willing to stand against unprofessional deposition conduct.” He advises attorneys to create a record of all unprofessional conduct that occurs during depositions. An accurate record enables the court to take corrective action, if necessary.

Judge Donnelly also urges attorneys to keep the court apprised of discovery disputes. He believes judges must remain accessible to the attorneys practicing before him or her. To that end, he makes it a priority to be available to litigants during all phases of litigation, including discovery. While most judges, including Judge Donnelly, frown upon discovery disputes, it is often easier to call the court to resolve an issue during a deposition rather than engage in costly and time-consuming motion practice thereafter.

In conclusion, the Security Nat’l Bank opinion serves as a useful reminder: Not only are attorneys required to zealously represent their clients, but they are also required to uphold certain professional standards. The importance of becoming familiar with local practice and using civility and respect during depositions cannot be overstated.

Angela D. Lydon is an associate in Frantz Ward’s Litigation Practice Group. Angela handles a broad mix of general litigation issues, including business torts, breach of contract and warranty claims, and products liability. She has been a CMBA member since 2012. She can be reached at (216) 515-1670 or

Angela would like to thank Hon. Judge Michael P. Donnelly of the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas for donating a substantial amount of time to answering her questions and offering his invaluable advice and opinions for use in this article. Judge Donnelly has been on the bench since 2005. Prior to serving as a judge, Judge Donnelly was in private practice and served as an assistant county prosecutor.

This article has been republished with permission by the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association.

The Death of Business Casual

by Robert Madelmayer 

It boils my blood to see how some “men” get dressed in the morning and head to work. The baggy shirts, ill-fitted pleated khaki pants and square-toed shoes with thick rubber soles; business casual is dead.


Years ago, men from pretty much every profession would get suited up daily and head to work. The popular AMC show Mad Men does a good job depicting the modern male dress code in the 1960s. They looked sharp, well put together, and professional. These guys killed the game back in the day.


Somehow though, we have lost our way.

What happened?

I’ll tell you what happened … the dot-com era happened. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, tech companies started to hire younger talent. This younger workforce didn’t want to wear suits and ties like their fathers did, and these companies recognized that. So, they loosened up the dress code in order to entice this younger workforce to join corporate America. The problem is that men became increasingly lazy and they started to care less and less about what they wore. This slippery slope brings us to where we are today, and it’s a mess.

Going-out-of business casual looks like this.

The Death of Busienss Casual

Take a look around next time you head to the office or go out for lunch during the week. These men are everywhere and people think its okay to leave the house looking like this.

Exposed undershirt. Ill-fitting button down, and pleated pants. Cell phone holster. Square-toed shoes. All of it needs to go.


When it comes to professional attire, there is a Catch-22 for guys. If a guy leaves the house too well put together, he runs the risk of people thinking he is some sort of hipster metrosexual (which is fine if you are, but not every well dressed guy should feel this way). If a guy leaves the house looking like he just left a party, he is a slob.

So, now what?

The Death of Business Casual

There is nothing more versatile than a well-tailored blazer, nice jeans, and a crisp button down. This combination is quite literally the backbone of any mans wardrobe, assuming he takes his style serious. It’s a youthful look, but when done right, you can blend into pretty much any social scene.

Meeting a client? Check.

Happy Hour after work? Check.

Date night? Check.

More importantly than what you are wearing though, is how it fits. Women pay attention to these kinds of things and the Modern Man should do the same. Men should have (at the very least) a basic relationship with a tailor they trust. If you don’t know where to start head to this site to find one near you.

Don’t want to spend a ton of money on a bunch of new clothes? No problem. Grab a handful of shirts, and a few pairs of pants you already own and have them tailored. It will feel like you have a brand new wardrobe. I promise.

You can’t look bad if you look good.


Reach Robert via Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn


Give the Reporter a Hand to Get a Clean Deposition Transcript

by Julie Brook, Esq.

This material is reproduced from the CEBblog™, Give the Reporter A Hand To Get A Clean Depo Transcript, ( copyright 2014 by the Regents of the University of California.  Reproduced with permission of Continuing Education of the Bar – California.  (For information about CEB publications, telephone toll free 1-800-CEB-3444 or visit our Web site,

give-the-court-reporter-a-hand-to-get-a-clean-deposition-transcriptWhen you’re taking a deposition, you know that ensuring a complete and accurate record is vital. So don’t take the person who’s dutifully taking down the proceedings for granted: Assisting the court reporter is not only polite, it might be the key to a clean depo transcript to use at trial.

Helping the court reporter starts even before the deposition begins by

  • Showing up early to organize documents for convenient reference and mark them as exhibits.
  • Giving the reporter a copy of the case caption so the transcript will include the correct case name and court number.
  • If the deponent is an expert, offering the reporter a written glossary of unusual terms that will be used during the deposition.

Once the deponent and other counsel show up at the deposition, you can help the court reporter by identifying everyone there, including the party each counsel represents.

During the deposition, help out the reporter by:

  • Spelling technical words or proper names into the record;
  • Controlling the examination so that two people aren’t talking at once (and if they do, ensuring that the reporter records the deponent’s statements before others’);
  • If you’re working with a relatively inexperienced reporter, making sure he or she understands that interrupting the examination to ask for an answer to be repeated is preferable to guessing at what was said;
  • If you are uncertain whether the deponent’s answer was recorded correctly, asking the court reporter to read back the last question and answer and, if the answer is incorrect, asking the deponent to repeat the correct answer;
  • Checking in with the reporter at a break about any transcription problems; and
  • During unusually long or technical depositions, occasionally asking if the reporter would like to take a short break.

Boston Court Reporting Firms

Boston court reporters are helping law firms meet emerging challenges.

Boston court reporters are helping law firms meet emerging challenges.

Today’s legal professionals need every edge as they take on the complex cases that have become staples in today’s legal system. More cases, more clients, crowded court dockets, and less time have all become the norm for today’s attorneys, and they need technology to help them work at their highest level.

Boston court reporters can help lawyers who want to maximize their time and talents. These court reporting professionals offer all of the tools that today’s busy legal professionals need as they guide their cases from preparation to presentation in the courtroom.

Connectivity has enhanced our lives in many ways, and it has changed the way people work in many fields. New tools like videoconferencing, realtime reporting, and online repositories take advantage of connectivity as the cornerstone of a new way of working that can alleviate travel burdens and help lawyers work more effectively.

Even with all of the technology available, Massachusetts court reporters remain the reliable source for accurate and timely court reporting and transcripts that are crucial to attorneys’ work every day. These reporting professionals have also now evolved to bring innovative ideas and new technology into the work of legal professionals both in the area and across the country.

Court Reporting in Canada

Court Reporting In Canada

Keep your court reporter aware of special needs you may have.

by Kimberley Neeson

When conducting depositions in Canada, it pays to do a little research before booking a court reporting firm. What is considered the “norm” in your state or country may not be the “norm” in other jurisdictions.   Here are a few quick points to bear in mind:

  • In many provinces in Canada, stenography is not the method of court reporting. Many court reporting firms employ digital recording with monitors, and typists prepare the transcripts (and not necessarily the monitor who sat in your deposition!)
  • Court reporters do not have to be licensed in Canada in order to certify transcripts.
  • Court reporters who swear in the witness should have a Commissioner of Oaths from the province they are working in.
  • Rates differ dramatically from province-to-province and even city-to-city (think New York City rates versus Small-Town-USA rates, for example).
  • Qualified legal videographers are few and far between. Only a handful of videographers in Canada have actually obtained their CLVS certification.
  • The technological abilities of court reporting firms varies widely in most provinces. Some reporters still use WordPerfect 4.2 from the late 1980s in order to produce transcripts!

How do you locate a qualified court reporter and videographer in Canada?

  • Choose a reputable court reporting firm with affiliations to associations where they have been independently vetted, i.e. National Court Reporters Association, National Network of Reporting Companies, etc.
  • Ask what method of reporting your court reporter will be providing; in other words, if you need a steno reporter, make sure to ask for one and indicate that digital recording is not acceptable.
  • Ensure your court reporting firm can provide you with the tools you require to meet your needs; i.e. hyperlinked exhibits, synced video media, transcript formats that will work with legal software databases, etc.
  • Ensure your court reporting firm can meet your transcript turnaround deadlines; i.e. ask for a rate sheet that includes turnaround times in advance of booking.
  • Inquire whether conference rooms are available and complimentary; this is standard offering in most Canadian court reporting firms
  • For videography, inquire in advance if you can get your media on a DVD; you don’t want to deal with the old school VHS system!
  • Last but not least, because you are an out-of-country customer, ask if prepayment is necessary.

By creating a quick checklist of absolute musts for your court reporting and videography services, you’ll save yourself a nasty surprise in a location where “fixing” the problem will be very difficult, if not impossible, to achieve.

About Ms. Neeson:

With over 30 years of court reporting experience, Ms. Neeson has been at the forefront of the advanced technologies of reporting. She was one of the first reporters in Canada to actively use and promote realtime reporting in the litigation setting.

Ms. Neeson is a Registered Professional Reporter, a Certified Realtime Reporter, a Chartered Shorthand Reporter, a Certified CART Provider and a Certified Broadcast Captioner, and was recently awarded NCRA’s Certified Realtime Administrator designation in July 2011.


It’s Not What You Said, It’s What They Remember

It’s Not What You Said, It’s What They Remember

Video is one way to reach jurors using new media.

At trial, the key oftentimes is getting complex issues that the parties have lived with for years to be comprehensible and memorable for juries whose understanding of the issues start from scratch and may only last for a couple of weeks.

The use of demonstrative evidence has progressed from a simple poster board drawing to animation showing accident scene recreations, all with an eye to making an impression on the collective jury’s mind of what each advocate wants the jury to remember most.   An homage, perhaps, to the saying that “A picture is worth a thousand words.

That may be fine when the point to emphasize can be reduced to one or a series of images, but it becomes more challenging when the point can only come across from oral testimony.   Studies have shown that the brain dedicates approximately five times more space to remembering sound (echoic memory) than it does to what you see (iconic memory).   The key word here is “remembering.” The image can make complex concepts concrete and easier to understand, but the spoken word actually has a better chance of being remembered.

The good news is that there’s a readily available technology that not only can combine the aural and visual, but complements it with reading comprehension. When video and synchronized text is combined in the form of closed captions, you get as close to the perfect world in information retention as possible in a trial setting (if you could have the witnesses sing their testimony to the tune of “Mairzy Doats” it would be even better).

If you’re interested in learning more, contact your local NNRC Trial Presentation Expert and they’ll be happy to give you a demonstration on how you can make sure that the jury not only hears what you said, but remembers it.

National Network of Reporting Companies (NNRC) announces Partnership with inData Corporation

NNRC members will offer state-of-the-art litigation and trial consulting services through a strategic partnership and alliance with inData Corporation.

National Network of Reporting Companies (NNRC) announces Partnership with inData CorporationFolsom, CA– {November 20, 2014} – The National Network of Reporting Companies, founded in 1983, and now the largest and oldest network of independently owned national court reporting firms serving as the global source for court reporting, legal video and video conferencing services, today announced a new partnership agreement with inData Corporation based in Gilbert, Arizona, to provide litigation and trial consulting services.

As a result of this partnership, NNRC members will expand their services by utilizing inData’s trial services division to provide experienced trial consulting and related litigation services, explained Chuck Cady, president of NNRC.

“This strategic alliance with inData will enable our independent members to enhance their services by offering full-service litigation support from discovery through trial to litigators nationwide,” said Cady. “This partnership will enable NNRC member firms to establish litigation support divisions that will help time-strapped trial teams expertly produce demonstrative graphics, prepare trial presentations, and choreograph courtroom and war room set-up or simply run presentations during trial.”

The NNRC boasts a network of independent court reporting partners with more than 55 of the most customer-oriented, technologically advanced court reporting firms in the United States, Canada, and Europe. Its members must be recommended and go through an in-depth vetting process before becoming a part of this prestigious network, strategically located in the United States and around the world.

Following inData Corporation’s release of its market-leading trial presentation software, TrialDirector®, the company established a professional services team that has worked side-by-side with litigators in hundreds of trials across the globe and developed a recognized expertise in the legal community for consulting in trials in a variety of industries according to Jordan Ray, inData Vice-President and Trial Services Division Director. “We are delighted to announce this highly-anticipated partnership with the NNRC,” said Ray. “The independent NNRC members provide state-of-the-art technology in court reporting with an unparalleled reputation for ethical and responsive customer service. This alliance provides the industry with seasoned professionals who will seamlessly provide a one-stop shop in all aspects of litigation for litigators seeking the most experienced, technologically advanced litigation services to expedite and win more cases for their clients.”

Further information, please contact Debbe Dreher, executive director of NNRC, at 916-932.2202

About the NNRC

NNRC is the most prestigious and largest litigation support network, handling more than 10 million depositions since 1983. Through personal recommendations, NNRC partners have been assessed as the most technologically advanced and dependable court reporting companies in the USA and worldwide. These independent court reporting firms offer global video depositions, conferencing services, as well as litigation support services. Learn more at

About inData Corporation

Founded in 1984, inData is a technology company specializing in the management and presentation of information. It is a privately held company, headquartered in Gilbert, Arizona. inData develops innovative software and uses seasoned trial experts to provide software training, trial consulting and graphic services to legal professionals dealing with the challenges of litigation. Software products include the best-selling trial presentation software, TrialDirector®, in addition to TimelineXpress®, TimeCoder™ Pro, DepoView®, DepoView® DVD, and TDNotebook®.

.For further information, visit the inData website: or contact Judy Miller, inData National Account Executive and NNRC Liaison

No Court Reporter? Really?

No Court Reporter Really

NNRC can provide reporting support when your legal work takes you anywhere.

by Tom Richardson, President, Stewart Richardson Deposition Services

Litigation is time consuming, complicated, and filled with deadlines. The last thing you need to worry about when taking a deposition is the court reporter. You’ve prepped for your deposition, kissed your spouse goodbye, and jumped on a plane to another city. You’ve arrived at the deposition location, pulled everything you need out of your briefcase, grabbed your fourth cup of coffee, and are ready to engage.

You look around the room and start to wonder, “Where’s the reporter? Did my staff forget to schedule someone to cover the job? The expert witness is charging me by the hour, and my client isn’t going to be happy about paying them to sit there idly.” Probably never happened to you, but it does happen. That’s why the National Network of Reporting Companies (NNRC ) is so valuable.

One short call to your local NNRC member firm, and the wheels begin to turn. Need a location? No problem.   What about a hotel recommendation? Done. Restaurant choices? Here’s the list. But most importantly, the NNRC delivers. Every time.

NNRC members are reliable and exceptionally capable. Unique circumstances are our specialty. Count on us to come through when you need us most. We won’t leave you stranded. Call 866-337-6672 for more information. Or visit to discover the difference NNRC members provide.

With over three decades of experience, Tom Richardson is noted as Indiana’s leading expert in court reporting innovation, service and technology. Under his leadership, Stewart Richardson has grown to be Indiana’s premier deposition firm, with a corporate commitment to integrity and exceeding client needs. Contact Indianapolis court reporters at Stewart Richardson for more information about how they can enhance your legal work


Working with Today’s Top New York Court Reporters

When people seek the very latest in technical tools to enhance their casework, they turn to New York City court reporters. They can provide all of the innovative ideas and the very latest in connectivity and other tools to help lawyers work more effectively through each phase of their cases.

Working with Today’s Top New York Court Reporters

In New York, partnerships with top court reporting firms are crucial.

When lawyers work on many of today’s complex cases, they need to be able to maximize their time. New York state court reporters can help lawyers better utilize their talents through tools like videoconferencing, realtime reporting, indexing, and online repositories.

When lawyers visit the area, they need solid support for their work. These companies can provide conference rooms and all of the professional services that lawyers come to expect when they must work on the road. Lawyers can stay in touch with their legal teams at their practices while they accomplish their objectives so that they can return to their practices and their cases.

Over the years, these court reporters have developed a reputation as the providers of accurate and timely transcripts and other materials. Now, they have evolved to partner with law firms throughout their case work, from investigation and case preparation all the way through presentation in the courtroom.

Summit Court Reporting Indispensable in Pennsylvania and New Jersey

Summit Court Reporting Indispensable in Pennsylvania and New Jersey

Summit Court Reporting is an important asset for today’s law firms.

More and more lawyers are taking on cases that present new challenges. These lawyers are working to enhance the way they work by partnering with top Philadelphia court reporters, and Summit Court Reporting is the leader in providing the services necessary for today’s legal work.

Summit provides all of the important services that today’s attorneys need throughout all phases of their casework. Indexing, online repositories, and courtroom presentation can all help lawyers make an impact in different ways.

For attorneys who need to expand their reach and eliminate the time and expense of travel, New Jersey court reporting firms can also provide videoconferencing that can be applied to many arras of legal work. Attorneys can consult with co-counsel or even depose a witness over a secure connection.

Summit has worked over the years to meet the changing needs of attorneys in an evolving legal field. The firm has worked to bring new and innovative technologies to legal work that allow the lawyer to better utilize their time and talents.

Summit Reporting also provides all of the accurate transcription and other services that are crucial to legal work every day. In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, these professionals are the leaders in helping lawyers serve their clients more effectively.