Here's a checklist of some questions you can ask about documents at depositions, while ignoring the objection from the other side that the document "speaks for itself." It doesn't, and the objection can be ignored--
- Who wrote the document;
- Who received the document;
- Whether the witness received the document;
- Whether the witness maintained the document in printed or electronic format, and where, and why;
- Where the original of the document is maintained;
- The identity of the author and the recipients;
- The identify of others mentioned in the document;
- If the witness wrote the document, what he meant by certain passages;
- If the witness didn't write the document but did receive it, whether he took any action as a result of reading the document;
- Whether the facts contained in the document are accurate, and why or why not;
- Whether the events described in the document are described correctly, and why or why not;
- Whether the witness agrees with the way particular passages are phrased, and why or why not;
- Whether the document refreshes the witness's recollection on points about which the witness claimed to have no memory;
- Whether the witness reviewed the document in preparation for the deposition;
- Questions meant to authenticate the document for trial;
- Questions meant to establish foundational elements for use of the document at trial.
Note that these questions can be mixed or matched, used or not used, as the situation merits and in any order.
See also these related posts:
- "Authenticating Exhibits Using Requests for Admissions: Two Methods"
- "Using Emails in Support of Summary Judgment or at Trial"
- "How to Introduce Exhibits at Trial"
Publication note: Originally published 1/10/08.