In depositions, when a questioning lawyer is exasperated with the answer (or answers) of a witness, s/he will sometimes repeat the questions, more or less, and punctuate it with “sir” or “madam”
Consider the following:
Q. Why was that loan paid before it was due?
A. Was it?
Obj. Objection, not responsive.
Q. The loan was paid before it was due, was it not?
A. I don’t really understand your question?
Q. I am asking you, sir, about the loan. Do you understand what is being discussed?
The same gambit can also be found when the deposition is that of a woman:
A. I am asking you, madam, . . . .
This component of a question is actually a condescension, a not so hidden insult, a hidden insult, and a derision, and what it looks like it, a criticism. It is not simply a civil request.
The problem is that it is not clear what defending counsel or the witness is supposed to do about it. An objection? Explicitly letting the questioner know that we glean his supposed subtly is a good route, but it is hard to know how to do this. After all, the questioning lawyer has said something which appears to be dignified. Of course, if the witness is Chinese, or something like that, and does not speak English very well, the insult is especially, though passingly, ugly.
There is a whole range of other problems, however. Maybe the witness has it coming.
Originally posted on 08/25/2013 @ 4:53 pm