Friday, March 25, 2011

What Is The Meaning of Photocopier?

Not quite up there with Bill Clinton asking during a deposition, "What is the meaning of 'is'?" but still pretty good!    It is ten pages of a court transcript trying to get an Ohio county official to answer if the office has a photocopier or not:

Marburger: During your tenure in the computer department at the Recorder's office, has the Recorder's office had photocopying machines?

Cavanagh: Objection.

Marburger: Any photocopying machine?

Patterson: When you say "photocopying machine," what do you mean?

Marburger: Let me be -- let me make sure I understand your question. You don't have an understanding of what a photocopying machine is?

Patterson: No. I want to make sure that I answer your question correctly.

Cavanagh: Dave, I'll object to the tone of the question. You make it sound like it's unbelievable to you that he wouldn't know what the definition of a photocopy machine is.

Marburger: I didn't ask him to define it. I asked him if he had any.

Patterson: When you say "photocopying machine," what do you mean?

Marburger: Let me be clear. The term "photocopying machine" is so ambiguous that you can't picture in your mind what a photocopying machine is in an office setting?

Patterson: I just want to make sure I answer your question correctly.

And it keeps going from there!


  1. I have a small, fast, scanner on my desk next to my monitor. I can drop a document into it, push a button, and have the scanner...

    1) Create a PDF on my computer (to email or file), or
    2) Send the scan straight to my printer

    So. Is that a "photocopier"?

    I can imagine being asked the question, saying "no", and later being accused of lying because I have a setup that can **act just like a photocopier**.

  2. Taking how many lawyer-hours, at (let's say $200 per? All of which will be recorded on the "plus" side of the ledger in the GDP numbers.

  3. Stephen, then your answer can be, "No, we have no standalone photocopiers. We do have scanners."

  4. I s'pose he could've clarified by saying Xerox machine, except then the Righthaven lawyers might've been on him like pit-bulls on a canned ham! (Copyright infringement or some such thing.)

  5. Robin, but if you say, "No, we have no standalone photocopiers. We do have scanners," you are not answering the question itself, but are volunteering information, which your attorney doubtless told you not to do in the briefing before arriving at the deposition location, and may run afoul of the deposing attorney's admonition to not guess, but make estimates if possible, not talk over him, and wait until the question is complete before answering. So the only safe answer is, "No, we have no standalone photocopiers." If the lawyer is sharp, he will ask, "what other kind of photocopiers do you have?", at which point your attorney objects because the question calls for a narrative.

  6. He did clarify by saying Xerox:
    "Marburger: Have you ever-- do you have machines there where I can put in a paper document, push a button or two, and out will come copies of that paper document also on paper? Do you have such a machine?

    Patterson: Yes, sir.

    Marburger: What do you call that machine?

    Patterson: Xerox. "

  7. The answer to Steven's question would be "no"; a quick trip to the dictionary would indicate why, and suggest that his question could qualify for a contempt of court citation. Much like Mr Patterson.


  8. Windy, did you read the transcript? The state's attorney is not trying to keep the deponent from answering more than what's asked. He's trying to keep the question from ever being answered.

    That's sanctionable.

    And indeed, I would have stopped the deposition, and had a motion for sanctions filed by the end of the day.