2020 Guide to California Depositions -- Call (310) 497-7255

Counsel conducting a deposition with subpoened documents at hand.

   

CALIFORNIA DEPOSITIONS - An Overview


Depositions through oral examination, as with other statutory discovery tools, are intended "to expedite the t rial of c ivil mat te rs by allowing litigants an adequate mea ns of discovery during the period of preparation for trial." Greyhound Co1p. v. Superior Court , 56 Cal. 2d 355 (1961). Depositions are also important because they make certain that witness ' testimony will be available at a trial. Ahern v.Super ior Cour t, 112 Cal. App. 2d 27 (1952).


Code of Civil Procedure Sec t ion 2025.010, et se q. (all further statutory citations are to sections in this code) governs the oral examination deposition process. (De posit ions by written questions are covered in 2028.010, et se q.)


Depositions are the only discovery method that may be used with a nonparty to the action. A party may take in California "the oral deposition of any person, including any party to the action." 2025.010; nonparty deposition disco very is governed by 2020.010, et seq.


"The person deposed may be a natural person, an organization such as a public or private corporation, a partnership, an association, or a governmental agency." 2025.010.

A deposition must "be conducted under the supervision of an office r [of the court] who is authorized to administer an oath;' and is subject to several enumerated requirements, including not being financially interested in the action or a relative or employee of any parties or their attorneys. 2025.320. Deposition officers are often also the shorthandreporter recording the testimony. See, e.g:, Serrano v.Stefan Merli Plastering Co., Inc., 52 Cal. 4th 1018 (20U).


In lieu of participating in an oral deposition, parties may transmit written questions in a sea led envelope to the party taking the de position for delivery to the de position office r, who shall unseal the envelope and propound the m to the deponent after the oral examination has been completed . 2025.330(e).


Securing Attendance

A deposit ion notice is effective to require any party to the act ion to attend a deposition and to require any office r, director, managing agent, or employee of a party to attend the deposition. 2025.280(a). Any deponent that is not a party or an office, director, or managing agent of a party, must be se rved with a subpoena in order to require attendance. 2025.280(b).


The deposition notice may be combined with a request that the deponent produce any document or tangible thing to the deposition for inspection and copying, so long as the documents requested are specified with reasonable particularity. 2025.220(a)(4);2025.280(a). Notwithstanding 1985(b)'s requirement that an affidavit showing good cause must accompany a subpoena duces tec um, the notice need not include a declaration showing good cause for the production of records. Teny v. SL/CO, 175Cal. App. 4th 352 (2009).

  

The notice of deposition must include the following: (1) t he address where the deposition will take place; (2) the date ; (3) th e name of each deponent; (4) s pecification with reasonable particularity of any materials or category of materials to be produced by the deponent; (5) any intention to record the testimony by audiotape, videotape and any intention to record the testimony th rough the "instant visual display of the testimony" (real time) in addition to recording

th rough the stenographic method; (6) any inte ntion to rese rve the right to use at t1i al a videotape deposition of a trea ting or consulting physician or any oth r expert; (7) the fo1111 i n which electr nically stored informat ion is to be produced; and (8) a statement disclosing the existence of any co nt rac t between the noticing party or a third party fina ncing the action and the deposition office r o r entity providing the se rvices of the office r, and a state ment disclosing whether the noticing party or any third party financing the action direc ted his or her at torney to use a

particular office r to provide services for the deposition. 2025.220(a). The length of notice that must be provided prior to the deposition is se t forth in 2025.270,and the permissible distance and location where it may be held are d iscussed in 2025.250 and 2025.260.