Using Deposition Excerpts in Legal Briefs

| by Catherine Evans, Esq.

Deposition testimony used in support of a brief should be concise and precise.  This requires preparation. 

Before taking any deposition, sketch out the critical questions which will support your future MSJ or other motion and make sure those questions are asked in a readable and usable way.  Then, while taking the deposition, think about how each individual question and answer will read. 

For example, don’t drop the antecedent in favor of the pronoun in your question.  If “it” or “him” or “her” was last named fourteen pages ago, you will need to attach all fourteen pages as an exhibit to your brief.  If, however, you specify the “it” or “him” or “her” in every question (which may sound odd as you do it), you will be able to present the court with a single, succinct question and answer to support your point.  If the testimony gets messy, do not hesitate to summarize the witness’ testimony and ask if your understanding is correct.  That summary can make a great exhibit. 

Once the hard part is done, you can move on to using the testimony in your brief.  If the testimony is particularly good, quote it in its entirety in your brief.  Otherwise, either cite it in the body (my preference) or as a footnote.  Remember to attach the cited testimony as an exhibit, following all the requirements set forth in California Rules of Court (CRC), Rule 3.1116.  Finally, call the clerk to see if the judge would like the transcript to be lodged or has any other requirements/requests with which you should comply.


About Catherine Evans:  Catherine Evans spent almost 30 years representing employers and management in employment litigation with the following firms:  Quinn Emanuel, Reed Smith, Seyfarth Shaw and Bryan Cave.  In 2016, she retired to a position as a research attorney for the Orange County Superior Court where she is enjoying reading briefs written by others.

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