In the start, Benjamin Watson for State Farm notes that Scruggs’s counsel is taking the position that the deposition can’t start until three. The judge says to Travis LeBlanc for Scruggs, “Okay. Your position?”
Mr. LeBlanc: Mr. Keker got back into the country. He had surgery this morning. He is under anesthesia. He will be up and cognizant at one our time, San Francisco time. So that’s why we got to three. I flew in today and just got here today, and I’m trying to get Mr. Scruggs ready.
The Court: Well, that’s not my concern. I had you gentlemen last week and I gave you until five o’clock this afternoon. I’m very disappointed that you’ve made no progress. I, too, have other concerns. We all have other lives. You’ve interrupted me twice in medical procedures today. And I’ve got to go back at one o’clock. I presume you are quite capable of representing your client, Mr. LeBlanc. If we don’t finish these depositions today now that you’ve wasted a half a day, I’m going to extend the time line to finish until five o’clock tomorrow. That’s p.m. But it’s going to begin today. And if I see either of you back in here today or tomorrow it’s going to be on a contempt matter. That’s the lawyers and the clients. Do you understand that?
Mr. LeBlanc: Yes, sir.
The Court: Now, what else can I help you with?
Mr. Watson: Your Honor, if I could clarify two points, I think it would prevent us from having to come back. In Mr. Scruggs’ response, … they took the position … that once we had asked our first question, that Mr. Scruggs would make whatever privilege objections he has and then they would require us to simply recite all our questions … in a row. I just want to make sure that we are not required to do this.
Mr. LeBlanc: You Honor, that’s not the position we took. We kindly requested that if we could save time, we asked could we do that. We did not say we would do that no matter what. … We ‘ve always said today, Your Honor, that we would start the deposition. We just ask for the accommodation of starting at three. We never took any position we would stop it at five. And, in fact, this morning…
The Court: I’ve heard enough. Okay? Now, you told me that Mr. Keker would be back yesterday. Yesterday was Sunday.
Mr. LeBlanc: Yes, sir.
The Court: To try to let everybody have a weekend to prepare I gave you through today to finish the depositions. And you haven’t done that. And I’m not interested in any more excuses. You can ask question by question. I think the Fifth Circuit is quite clear on that. And I really don’t know why we are arguing about these things. It seems to me that professionals could handle something as small as depositions without all of this skirmish, and other people have lives, too. Okay?
Mr. Watson: Yes, sir, your Honor.
The Court: And I’m telling both of you, if you are back here, it will be under contempt. Okay? Do you understand that, Mr. LeBlanc?
Mr. LeBlanc: I do.
The Court: Do you understand that?
Mr. Watson: Yes, sir, I do.
The Court: All right. Is there anything else we need to do?
Mr. Watson: Judge, I hate to be as specific as I’m getting, but I just want to make sure we don’t have to come back. Another thing that they mentioned in their filing is the possibility that if they feel that they are offended by our questions or that we are asking inappropriate questions, they may just pack up and leave and we just want to make sure that does not happen, either, Your Honor.
The Court: Well, I’m– let me make clear to both of you, the reason I tried to get this done is out of respect for the Southern District. This is really Judge Bramlette’s and Judge Parker’s case. So I am trying to fulfill our responsibility … and that’s simply to hold this deposition. Now, you might prefer that we not hold it under seal and I can rule on each of these points question by question. That’s always an option, Mr. LeBlanc. Would you prefer to do it in my Courtroom? [For nonlawyers, what Judge Mills is saying here is “Do you want to do these questions in front of God, everybody, and the reporters for the Clarion Ledger, or do you want quit acting this way?]
Mr. LeBlanc: No, we would not prefer it to do it your Courtroom, Your Honor, and again, I think if we wrote a brief, we wrote what we said. That’s not what we wrote in our brief, Your Honor. We took a different position in the brief which was that … they took the position that we were going to cut the deposition off at at five, which we never said. I told him today we would not cut the deposition off at five. And I follow you. I will continue until five p.m. tomorrow. If they have questions, Mr. Scruggs will be there and he’ll answer the questions. The only thing we ask is they just not harass him. As long as it didn’t come to harassment, we are okay. But we are not cutting it off and we intend to have Mr. Scruggs there.
The Court: You have earned your client another day of depositions. That’s what you’ve accomplished. Okay? And if we continue, we can accomplish more. Now I don’t expect you to harass anyone.
Mr. Watson: Yes sir, Your Honor.
The Court: And y’all know what civility is, don’t you? Professionalism? Let’s try some of it. Okay?
Mr. Watson: Yes, sir.
The Court: Okay. Anything else? (no response). All right. This court will be in recess….