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“Stop the Shenanigans” — Court Orders Parties’ Attorneys to Behave Themselves at Depositions

The district court began its opinion with a simple direction to the parties: “Stop the shenanigans at depositions. Period.” The district court went on to explain that “[t]his Court has no patience for behavior like that exhibited at the deposition . . . It is unnecessary and unacceptable.”

Showing that videotape evidence may be the best evidence of what occurs at a deposition, the district court also wanted to know if there was a videotape in existence: “Is there a videotape of the Batten deposition? If so, please provide it to the Court immediately on a CD-ROM/DVD.”

The district court was apparently disturbed by the objections of defense counsel and the colloquy that followed. As a result, the district court ordered defense counsel to limit themselves to a single word “Objection” or to the phrase “Privileged, instruct not to answer.” The district court stated: “The Court is disturbed by the conduct of counsel at the deposition of Mr. Batten. All defense counsel should limit themselves to the single word ‘Objection,’ or the phrase ‘Privileged, instruct not to answer.’ Any other need for colloquy should be brought to the Court’s attention immediately (including during the course of the deposition).”

Finally, the district court noted that if a videotape of the deposition existed and confirmed the conduct of the attorneys then sanctions might well be appropriate. “If there is a videotape of the Batten deposition and the conduct evidenced by the transcript is shown to be true–and it is as nasty as it appears–this Court will consider sanctions.”

Realtime Data, LLC d/b/a IXO v. Morgan Stanley, et al., Case No. 11 Civ. 6696 (KBF) (S.D.N.Y. May 23, 2012)

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