Practice Tip: Probably Okay to End Deposition Early if Other Side Brings a Gun

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On February 12, an attorney representing a man suing NFL running back Reggie Bush said he and his client chose to end a deposition early after noticing that the other side was armed.

"I knew they weren’t going to like what they were going to hear, but I never thought they’d bring a gun," said Brian Watkins, an attorney for sports marketer Lloyd Lake.  Lake is apparently suing to recover $300,000 in payments and gifts that he gave Bush while Bush was at USC.  (The fact that these gifts were illegal may be a bit of an obstacle to recovering them.)

The report did not say who was being deposed, but it wasn’t Bush, who is scheduled for February 25.  But it wasn’t the deponent who had the gun anyway — it was the bodyguard for Bush’s attorney.  The attorney, David Cornwell, claimed later that he felt he needed a guard because Lake, who has a criminal background, has allegedly threatened him and Bush before.  Cornwell said the bodyguard had a permit to carry a concealed weapon, but Watkins said he didn’t keep it concealed.

"He made sure we saw it," Watkins said.  Watkins’ client said the bodyguard flashed the gun at him in the lobby, and that he opened his jacket later during the deposition.  When Watkins objected, Cornwell agreed to have the bodyguard sit outside the deposition room.  "So then," Watkins said, "he was sitting eight to 10 feet away from Lloyd, outside a glass door with his arms folded, staring in at my client."

Outrageous, Watkins called it twice.  "It’s outrageous that he shows up strapped for a deposition," he said.  "That’s outrageous conduct in the lawyer world.  Come on, we’re lawyers.  I don’t threaten people [with guns], I sue them."  Watkins suggested that the handgun was evidence that Bush has a weak case.  "They know the day of reckoning is coming," he said.  "They are panicking."

Cornwell, who has represented many other sports figures including dog lover Michael Vick, did not sound panicky.  Given Lake’s background and the alleged threats, he said, "we were advised to take appropriate security precautions when in Lake’s presence."  He dismissed the intimidation claims as unprofessional.  "This lawsuit stuff is for grown folks.  Obviously, this crew ain’t ready."

The deposition was held at the San Diego office of grown folks Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, though Pillsbury said none of its crew was present (it was just hosting).  In a statement, the firm also emphasized that it has a "zero-tolerance" policy for firearms at a deposition.

Link:  AP via NBC Sports
Link:  USA Today