So I’m deposing one of the bad guys today. He was an employee of the big company that my clients allege discriminated against them based on race; his job was a personnel administrator. He has since retired from the company and it’s been about five years since the salient events that we’re talking about (this case has being going on for a long time).
I present the deponent with a letter written by my client accusing him (the deponent) of an act of racial discrimination. The deponent’s face screws up, he gets red and flushed, and indignantly says that the accusation is “absurd.” Then, he abruptly asks for a break in the proceedings. I look outside a minute later and see him pacing on the sidewalk, smoking and shouting into his cell phone. I guess no one at the defense counsel’s office told this guy that he had been personally named as a bad actor in a gigantic race-discrimination case.
His reaction doesn’t affect my evaluation of the merits of the case one way or the other. After all, he was hardly going to admit the accusation. But I can sure understand why the guy was upset. He should have been told that sort of accusation was going to be flying his way before the deposition, so he could prepare himself emotionally for my questions. The defense attorney did not adequately prepare his witness for what was coming, and the guy took it in the kidneys as a result.
That left me wondering: which would make me angrier? A) Being accused by a former colleague of racism? or B) Not knowing about the accusation until I was being cross-examined by the plaintiff’s attorney? It’s hard for me to say.