Fear Factor

BY GLENN NEWMAN

Those of us who perform litigation services for a living have a high anxiety level during a deposition: The fear of the unknown questionand hoping well be able to answer itkeeps us sharp.

I knew going in that one deposition was going to be tedious. We were in a bet-the-company patent infringement suit with significant dollars at risk, and I was ready for anythingor so I thought. Right after I was sworn in, the opposing counsel pitched it. Would you please state for the record your Social Security number, Mr. Newman. Questions spun through my mind. How was that relevant? Would it go to my credibility? Affect my analysis? And given the proliferation of identity theft, the last thing I wanted was my Social Security number on a court record.

The question came again. I said I wasnt comfortable putting that information on the record, but the attorney again directed me to answer the question.

Finally, I was told that if I didnt answer the question, someone would call the judge. I caved, but asked that the deposition be marked confidential. Only counsel could request such a thing, they said. OK, its 204-xx-yyyy. I felt horribledefeatedand couldnt wait to finish the depo.

When we took our first break about an hour into the proceeding, my inquisitor cut right to the chase. You were uncomfortable, werent you? I admitted Id never been asked that question before. My curiosity got the best of me. I asked him why such a question. His response was simple: I asked only because your attorney asked my expert for his Social Security number yesterday.

That explained it!

Glenn Newman, CPA
Principal in Charge
Parente Randolph LLC
Philadelphia

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