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No More Harassing Depositions

Real Estate Law

If you have been a party to a lawsuit, or maybe even just a witness, you may have suffered the distinct displeasure of spending days sitting in a conference room while the opposing party’s lawyer asks question after question about seemingly pointless issues while you wonder how long you will have to suffer through the process. Well, fortunately for California litigants, that problem will be over starting in January.

Last week, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law, a modification of the California Code of Civil Procedure that will limit deposition to no more than seven hours.

Except as provided in subdivision (b), or by any court order, including a case management order, a deposition examination of the witness by all counsel, other than the witness’ counsel of record, shall be limited to seven hours of total testimony. The court shall allow additional time, beyond any limits imposed by this section, if needed to fairly examine the deponent or if the deponent, another person, or any other circumstance impedes or delays the examination.

In my career, I have actually sat through a deposition of one individual that lasted twenty (20) days! It went so long, that the lawyers on the other side of the case actually had T-shirts printed admiring themselves for having “survived” the deposition! While that particular case was very complicated and involved a very large number of parties, I have also just recently sat with a client for four days of deposition in a case where there are only two parties and the amount at stake is quite modest.

The problem with the law as it currently exists is that it puts the burden on the party being deposed to seek a protective order from the Court and such orders, under California law, require that the party losing the motion be sanctioned. The revised law will, properly in my opinion, place the burden on the party taking the deposition to show the Court that more than one day is really needed.

I believe this is an excellent development, putting California more in line with the Federal system that pushes more informal disclosure and less punishing days of deposition. I think it’s a good strong start.

If you think you may need legal representation involving issues regarding real estate law, don’t hesitate to contact our firm at or call us at (650) 327 – 2900.


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