As a deposition court reporter, you’ll take the testimony of witnesses from all walks of life. One of the biggest perks of the profession is the knowledge that there’s no such thing as a normal witness or a normal day.
One type of witness all court reporters have encountered at one time or another is the confrontational witness. These witnesses are usually parties to a lawsuit or intimately involved in the events in question and feel that the attorney who’s questioning them is out to get them. They’ll stonewall, make snide comments, and sometimes scream and curse. Some will even physically confront the taking attorney or another person in the room.
Sometimes a witness comes completely unhinged, as happened in the videotaped deposition of longtime political operative Roger Stone.
In the days leading up to Roger Stone’s sentencing for involving himself in a conspiracy to help foreign interests influence our 2016 presidential election, Judge Amy Berman Jackson allowed Stone to be deposed by conservative lawyer Larry Klayman. So, in the two days right before Valentine’s Day, Stone was forced to sit and take questions from Klayman about more than a handful of civil cases the political operative is also involved in. Those include a libel case with lawyer Larry Klayman himself, whom Stone opined “could be the single worst lawyer in America” and has an IQ lower than 70.
Judge Jackson allowed the deposition to take place in a Florida court reporter’s office. In video of the 5.5-hour, two-day deposition, Stone shakes and does stressful stuff with his teeth and his hands, while losing his trademark cool a lot. Like a lot a lot. Like an unhinged amount. Highlights pulled out by Politico include Stone saying he isn’t going to be “badgered by this bastard” Klayman, as well as calling Klayman a “bitch.”
Politico’s video shows Stone making the objections himself and taking it upon himself to question Klayman – as if he were the attorney taking the deposition.
It should be noted that Klayman released the video; it would be unethical for the court reporting firm or the videographer to release the video.
While it’s entertaining to watch, these types of witnesses (and attorneys) make it difficult for the court reporter to capture a verbatim record. In such an explosive environment it’s imperative that the court reporter remain calm, maintain neutrality, and interrupt the deposition when necessary to ask the parties to either slow down or not talk over each other. The court reporter, in their discretion, may leave the room if they feel physically threatened. Although a court reporter’s duty is to guard the record, they are not required to put themselves in physical danger to do so.