Upon occasion attorneys will provide the deposition officer (court reporter) a set of written questions that a deponent is to answer pursuant to Federal Rule 30. Court reporters around the country have contacted me asking for advice when written questions come in as far as the logistics and format, so I have come up with the following best practices for attorneys and court reporters so the examination can go smoothly.
The rule reads: (3) Participating Through Written Questions. Instead of participating in the oral examination, a party may serve written questions in a sealed envelope on the party noticing the deposition, who must deliver them to the officer. The officer must ask the deponent those questions and record the answers verbatim.
Best Practices for Attorneys:
1. Number questions starting with No. 1. It will make it easier for the court reporter to provide a transcript that you can easily discern which answer corresponds to which question.
2. Alternatively, include the written questions on a flash drive in the sealed envelope. The court reporter could then easily copy/paste your question before the answer if you prefer to see the question and answer together in the final transcript.
Best Practices/Procedure for the Court Reporter:
1. Swear in the witness
2. Read the whole of the question to the witness
3. Upon completion of reading the question, report the witness’ answer verbatim.
4. Attach a certificate to the end of the transcript including the fact the witness was duly sworn, each question was read to the witness and that the witness’ answers were taken down verbatim, along with the language used in your standard Federal Rules certificate.
ADVICE: Before the questions are read, inform the deponent that you will not be commenting in any way, shape, or form on the questions. Many times witnesses will ask how they are supposed to answer or ask to have something clarified. DO NOT COMMENT ON THE QUESTIONS. Let the witness know that you are only to write down their answers verbatim.
If you found this article helpful, you might want to read the article, Federal Rule 30(e) – Deposition Read/Sign.