As lawyers, and more importantly, as bloggers, we here at Abnormal Use are huge nerds. Accordingly, we sometimes lose sight of the forest for the trees and develop silly idiosyncrasies based on our interpretation of legal minutiae. Today, we write of one such quirk: objections to the form of questions at depositions.
This writer attended Baylor Law School, an institution which and teaches discovery and deposition techniques in a mandatory third year series of courses. It was then that this writer learned of Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 199.5(e), which provides that objections to the form of a question must be made at depositions. All other objections are reserved. Form objections shall be made using the following statements: “Objection, leading” and “Objection, form.” Note that the terms contemplated by the rules are in quotation marks. In its own words, the rule itself provides:
Objections to questions during the oral deposition are limited to “Objection,leading” and “Objection, form.” Objections to testimony during the oral deposition are limited to “Objection, non-responsive.” These objections are waived if not stated as phrased during the oral deposition. All other objections need not be made or recorded during the oral deposition to be later raised with the court.
Practicing several years in Texas, this writer always made the objections as stated in the rule. It would have been splendidly nerdy to argue to a trial court that an opposing party had waived an objection by not stating it as it was quoted directly in the rule (which the rule itself states expressly). What hypertechnical procedural fun that would have produced! After all, the use of quotation marks suggests that the objection itself must be verbatim and not a paraphrase, and the rule provides that “objections are waived if not stated as phrased.” However, the judicial scorn likely to be prompted by that argument always deterred this writer.
But here is the aforementioned nerdy pet peeve. Throughout our career, in whatever state, and in whatever jurisdiction, this writer has always said “Objection, form.” Call it habit, call it nostalgia, call it blind adherence to an old rule, call it what you will. Inevitably, though, when the transcript arrives back from the court reporting service, our objection is almost always transcribed as “Object to the form” which, of course, would have been (presumably) waived under the Texas rule. Perhaps the court reporters simply have some type of button or macro on their systems which inserts a form objection on to the record irrespective of the precise manner in which the attorney articulated it. That obviously would not work for longer detailed objections, but for basic form objections, maybe that is the reason. However, we have always wondered why it is that our “Objection, form” never seems to survive the day of the deposition.
Hey, we told you it was a nerdy pet peeve. You were warned.