Digging through an old file on a settled case, I came across some notes that I made during a deposition I was defending. It was a simple hit in the rear auto case and I jotted down some of the questions the defense lawyer asked.
Each question, it seemed, was more wretched than the next. None were spoken in plain English:
What were the points of impact between your vehicle and the adverse vehicle?
Were there any traffic control devices?
Did you notice blood on your person?
Did you get out of the vehicle yourself or did you get out with assistance?
What was the nature of your conversation?
The worst part about these questions, I think, is that the lawyer was working from a script.
I’m fairly confident that any 10-year-old could ask better questions. All you really need, to get this type of basic information, is natural human curiosity to find out what happened. It was the tortured attempt to sound like a lawyer that made me laugh to myself and take notes.
I was reminded of those notes yesterday when I read Bryan Garner’s blog post: Is there ever a good reason to use “hereby” in your writing?
It isn’t really hard to abuse the English language. All you need to do is go to law school.
Perhaps some young lawyers out there will recognize themselves as they struggle to ask deposition or trial questions.