If you feel stupid, it’s not because I’m making you feel that way.
The art of the deposition zinger is in its timing. It generally arises in the perfect storm of a deponent’s blissful ignorance or “standoffishness” and the attorney having a quick wit while being driven towards the end of it.
For instance, the above listed quote, taken from a recent deposition in Cleveland. [The Cleveland Plain Dealer via WSJ Law blog] The attorney was deposing an IT manager for the Cuyahoga County recorder’s office about the existence of copy machines in the recorder’s office.
The IT manager, clearly doing his best to obfuscate, played dumb. Reeeeal dumb. (Edited for space)
Marburger: During your tenure in the computer department at the Recorder’s office, has the Recorder’s office had photocopying machines?
Marburger: Any photocopying machine?
Patterson: When you say “photocopying machine,” what do you mean?
The situation devolved into this:
Patterson: I’m sorry. I didn’t know what that meant. I understand that there are photocopying machines, and there are different types of them just like —
Marburger: Are there any in the Recorder’s office?
Patterson: — there are different cars. Some of them run under gas power, some of them under electric power, and I’m asking if you could help me out by explaining what you mean by “photocopying machines” —
Marburger: That’s a great point.
Patterson: — instead of trying to make me feel stupid.
Marburger: If you feel stupid, it’s not because I’m making you feel that way.
Personally, I wish the guy would have latched on to that car analogy the witness pulled out of his butt used and asked him if he drove a car. Clearly, the answer would have been “What’s a car?”
The exchange went on for 10 pages. The attorney (Marburger) managed to ultimately get the guy to admit that there’s a fancy machine called the “Xerox” and people “Xerox” things all the time. Because “his generation” has never used the term “photocopying.”
Got any deposition zingers of your own? Post them in the comments.