The Mythology of the “Standard Stipulation”

| by Heather Duncan, Esq.

Depositions often end with the taking attorney looking around the room and asking the others, “standard stipulation?” The response is often disinterested nods from the other attorneys, most of whom have no idea what they may or may not have just agreed to.

It is important to keep in mind that in California there is no such thing as a “standard stipulation,” for handling the original and copy (O&1) of a deposition transcript.

If the attorneys at the deposition do not specifically stipulate to the handling of the transcript, it will be handled pursuant to the applicable code of civil procedure.

For California Superior court cases, the basic rules for handling the O&1 can be found in CCP 2025.520.

The deposition officer sends written notice to the deponent and to all parties when the original is available for reading, correcting and signing (unless waived).

The deponent has 30 days from the date of the notification, to sign the original deposition transcript and make any changes.

Alternatively, within the same 30-day time period the deponent may make changes by means of a certified letter mailed to the deposition officer, with a copy of the letter sent to all parties attending the deposition.

After the 30-day time period, the original transcript is sealed by the deposition officer and sent to the attorney who noticed the deposition.

Workers’ Comp cases also allow for an automatic read and sign under CCP 2025.

In Federal Court, the basic rules for handling the O&1 are found in FRCP 30.

Following completion of the deposition the court reporter must “seal the deposition in an envelope . . .and must promptly send it, to the attorney who arranged for the transcript or recording.”

The deponent does not have an automatic right to review the transcript. Review must be requested before the conclusion of the deposition or it is waived.

On request, the deponent is allowed 30 days after notification to review the transcript and make changes. The prima facie evidence of a request for a read and sign is the court reporter’s certificate. The reporter must note in the certification whether a request was made and, if so, must attach any changes the deponent makes during the 30-day period.

It is not the reporter’s job to ask about reading and signing. It is the job of the attorney.

Of course, if all attorneys agree, it can all be changed—timing, method, scope, location, limited only by the creativity of the attorneys and practical considerations.

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