Bar News - April 6, 2007
By: book review by Melinda M. Siranian
"Deposition Rules: The Essential Handbook to Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How"
By David M. Malone
David Malone’s Deposition Rules: The Essential Handbook to Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How (4th Edition) is a practical guide for the experienced attorney as well as for those who are preparing for their first deposition. The information in the book is helpful, and the book is easy to use: the size (5.5- x 8.5-inches) and spiral binding make it easy to travel with and it lies open to the page being consulted.
The book is divided into the six sections, one for each of the questions in the title, along with chapters devoted to expert depositions, video depositions, and how to use the deposition in the trial setting. There are two appendices that include the full text of the relevant Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Federal Rules of Evidence. These rules are cited in the answers to the questions in the text of the book, providing the reader with examples and reminders of the necessary procedures to be followed. Having the full text of the rules in the back of the book adds to the overall usefulness of the book: re-reading the rules is a valuable refresher at any stage in the litigation process.
The text is structured around answering specific questions, but Malone has also interspersed practical tips and examples to illustrate the application of his answers. These examples are often simple, but speak to the overall tone of the book: this is not a text-book but a field reference to be used when a question or issue arises. While I read the book cover to cover, the table of contents is set up so that the reader can skim through the questions, determine the area she/he needs to address—and quickly find the answer.
In his introduction, Malone recognizes the potential for different ways to pose questions and therefore suggests the book be used by looking through the table of contents rather than focusing on the chapter names. There is some overlap in the coverage of some questions—while this was redundant for me because I read the whole book—the repetition will ensure that the user will find the answer she/he is looking for even if the question is not posed exactly as Malone has posed it.
The questions themselves range from the most basic (who can be deposed and the reasons for taking a deposition) to an in-depth chapter dealing with the expert deposition. Malone reprints his 20-page article on the Daubert approach, which expands the criteria enumerated by the Supreme Court in its decision from four to eleven (criteria), including an explanation for the criteria and then a list of suggested questions to be used in the deposition to elicit the necessary information. I found this section to be most interesting, having just finished my Evidence class at Franklin Pierce Law Center, in addition to deposing an “expert” (doctor) in my Pre-Trial Advocacy class. Malone’s suggestions would have been helpful both in preparing for the doctor’s deposition and as a reference while the deposition was occurring.
The major drawback to this book was the high number of editing issues: there were numerous spelling errors and heading errors in the table of contents. This was a distraction because the information was engaging and I found myself stumbling on the spelling errors which diverted my understanding of his answer to a given question to trying to figure out what a word was supposed to be.
Considering this is the fourth edition of the book, I would think editing would be done with great care. While the errors do not detract from the usefulness of the book, it does detract from the quality of the book. Malone emphasizes practice and the need to focus on details when crafting questions to elicit the answers needed. It would seem this should apply to publishing a book as well.
Overall, Malone’s book is a well-crafted handbook to be used by either the novice or experienced attorney when preparing for and conducting a deposition. Using the book either to answer specific questions or reading it in its entirety as a refresher is beneficial to the attorney. Malone has created a convenient text full of practical advice.
Melinda M. Siranian is a member of the first class of Webster Scholars at Franklin Pierce Law Center in Concord. The Scholars are in their first year of a two-year program that strives to make them practice-ready upon graduation and which will be recognized by the NH Supreme Court as a hands-on equivalent to the Bar exam.
Where to Find the Book
The Deposition Rules Handbook may be ordered from the National Institute of Trial Advocacy by going to their on-line store at www.nita.org or by calling 1-800-225-6482.