Deposition Battle Over Definition of “Photocopy”

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Also from Cleveland (via the WSJ Law Blog) comes another story of lawyers doing battle, this time over the meaning of "photocopy."

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported on a deposition taken in a dispute apparently before the Ohio Supreme Court over the cost of obtaining records from the county recorder's office. That case is likely otherwise a total snore, but the report describes a lawyer's effort to get a deponent to admit that his office had a "photocopying machine."

Plaintiffs’ Lawyer: During your tenure in the computer department at the Recorder’s office, has the Recorder’s office had photocopying machines?

Deponent’s Lawyer: Objection.

PL: Any photocopying machine?

Deponent: When you say “photocopying machine,” what do you mean?

PL: Let me be — let me make sure I understand your question. You don’t have an understanding of what a photocopying machine is?

D: No. I want to make sure that I answer your question correctly….When you say “photocopying machine,” what do you mean?

PL: Let me be clear. The term “photocopying machine” is so ambiguous that you can’t picture in your mind what a photocopying machine is in an office setting?

D: I just want to make sure I answer your question correctly.

PL: Well, we’ll find out. If you can say yes or no, I can do follow-ups, but it seems — if you really don’t know in an office setting what a photocopying machine is, I’d like the Ohio Supreme Court to hear you say so.

D: I just want to make sure I answer your question correctly.

DL: There’s different types of photocopiers, Dave.

And of course, the stakes being as high as they are, it gets personal:

D: 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 –

PL: Are there any in the Recorder’s office?

D: — 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” –-

PL: That’s a great point.

D: — instead of trying to make me feel stupid.

PL: If you feel stupid, it’s not because I’m making you feel that way.

DL: Objection.

According to the report, this goes on for 10 pages. The report didn't include a PDF of the transcript, so I can't say whether the guy ever got an answer to his question.

I'm also not sure whether it was a fair question or not [Update: I think maybe it was] which may seem ridiculous but the deponent's lawyer says at one point that the term "photocopy" is an issue in the case. The statute in question might be this one, which sets the fees that the county recorder can charge "when the photocopy or any similar process is employed." And it does set those fees at a remarkable 28 dollars for the first two pages and eight dollars a page after that. Seems like something should be done about that, but that may or may not be the issue in the case.

It also may or may not be a good idea to go to law school in search of fun, as this incident shows yet again.

On the other hand, you might be lucky enough to be in the room when a deponent suddenly decides to expound on all the advantages he's had "simply because I follow the chicken." And that might make it all worthwhile.