This video of a pro se litigant grilling an asshole of a cop during a deposition is worth a watch. It’s 33 minutes long, but worth it.


Elrod · June 11, 2023 at 8:30 am

Very interesting.

A few thoughts:
Pro Se representation is difficult and requires a LOT of planning up front. For a non-lawyer who probably has never conducted a deposition he did quite well. Were I to do that I would research not just the applicable law but all the questions, and *try* to anticipate potential different answers from the party being deposed. I’d also try to enlist some friends in “practice depositions” and ask them to deliberately obfuscate because much of a deposition is being able to think on your feet; there are specific questions which support specific lines of questioning you want to pursue, and the deponent’s attorney, if he or she is any good, will not hesitate to claim “irrelevant” to anything potentially not specifically germane to the conditions predicating the lawsuiit…..but, if the deponent’s answers open a door to pursuing other, but still relevant, areas of questioning it’s entirely legitimate to pursue them. Sometimes a deponent opens their mouth and spits out a tiny little nugget that leads to another vein of ore, you have to be aware of related issues.

As the attorney who posted the video (“Tom Wins”) pointed out, in dspositions it’s important to be the party consistently driving to a specific destination – admission of fault, professional judgment which led to fault, or contribution to or creation of conditions leading to fault, by the deponent, so during depos you have to stay on track and not allow the deponent to divert from the path you intend to follow, especially by asking their own questions. Deponents are certainly allowed to ask clarifying questions about specific meanings, but a sharp deponent, or one well coached by his or her attorney, or even the opposing attorney, can use clarifying questions to cloud responses or impact the deposer’s train of thought.

I’m curious why the cop got away with “desposition by laptop” rather than in-person depo. Doing it F2F is important. There are many situations where depositions can lead to settlement instead of going to civil trial when the trial outcome can be reasonably foretold from the depo.

Depos are not easy to do, and difficult to do well. Which is why if one goes the Pro Se route one should study, practice and rehearse it. A lot. This guy did really well, considering it’s probably the first one he’s ever done. If he wins any judgment at all, even a very small amount, it constitutes some, even quite minor, degree of admission of fault or judgment by the officer, and by extension the agency he represents from an officer knowledge, training and supervision standpoint. .Should that occur, defense attorneys will scrutinize every future arrest he makes, and a few might review the small details of their client’s previous arrest where he was the arresting officer. That’s not an enviable position to be in.

Joe Blow · June 11, 2023 at 12:38 pm

The whole exchange just boils my blood. Underlying the whole thing, throughout the police interaction itself and the resulting deposition, is the ‘just comply’ routine. Cop doesn’t know, nor care that defendant is in the legal right, he will be made to comply. During the deposition they even say “if you had just shown ID”… he means comply.
They do not think, believe, nor act like they work for you. They are orcs, and should not be trusted one whit.
They will be the enemy when things get sp0rky. If you’re a good guy who’s a cop, quit now. Find a safer job.

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