South Carolina Attorney Offers Tips for Pro Hac Vice Deposition Success

CompuScripts Court Reporters welcomes guest blogger J. Preston Strom, Jr., Esq.

If you practice complex civil litigation, at some point you may find that you need to obtain pro hac vice status in South Carolina. Pro hac admission in a South Carolina court subjects an attorney to all of the governing rules of procedure and ethics.

While undoubtedly familiar with the rules of procedure in your home state, you may not be familiar with the intricacies of the South Carolina Rules of Procedure. Given that the majority of civil actions settle prior to trial, locking down beneficial deposition testimony can impact dispositive motions, and ultimately, the final resolution of your case. Knowing how to proceed in a South Carolina deposition is critical.

Below, I’ve identified important tips to help ensure that your deposition runs smoothly. I strongly suggest that you consult with local counsel prior to taking or defending your first South Carolina deposition.   In the event that you have questions or need assistance, please feel free to contact me personally.

Conduct During Depositions

Subject to certain exceptions, the South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure are virtually identical to the guidelines used in the federal district court in South Carolina:

  • Civility is mandatory. Be courteous and avoid disparaging remarks. If opposing counsel engages in inappropriate behavior, you should consider taking a break to discuss the matter before noting conduct on the record.
  • In many cases, medical evidence is critical. Make sure that you follow the relevant rules and provide notice if you wish to take a video deposition.
  • If you are deposing a witness, remember to instruct the witness to ask you, rather than the witness’ own counsel, for clarifications, definitions, or explanations of any words, questions, or documents presented during the course of the deposition.
  • If you are defending the deposition, you may not engage in private, off the-record conversations with your client regarding the substance of the testimony once the deposition begins.
  • Deposing counsel must provide opposing counsel a copy of all documents shown to the witness during the deposition, either before the deposition begins or contemporaneously with the showing of each document to the witness. If opposing counsel has less than least two business days to review documents with the deponent, counsel shall be afforded a reasonable amount of time to discuss the exhibit with the deponent, an exception to the normal communication rule.
  • If you are defending the deposition, there are strict limitations governing when you may direct a witness not to answer. You should ensure that any objection made does not suggest an answer to the deponent. If you find that an attorney’s line of questioning in the deposition rises to the level of harassment, you may make a motion pursuant to Rule 30(d) to end the deposition.
  • Be mindful that under the Federal Rules, a deposition may not exceed seven record hours.
  • Note that in federal proceedings, you must also abide by the local rules of civil procedure.

A graduate of the University Of South Carolina School Of Law, J. Preston “Pete” Strom, Jr. is an attorney with Strom Law Firm, LLC in Columbia, South Carolina. Pete handles civil litigation cases including class actions, mass torts, complex civil litigation, personal injury, defective products, toxic torts, consumer protection, and civil rights cases. Pete is admitted to practice in the U. S. District Court of South Carolina and all South Carolina state courts. Pete has also been admitted pro hac vice in a number of Federal Courts. He is AV Peer Review Rated from Martindale- Hubbell, a past president of the South Carolina Association for Justice, and a member of the Board of Governors for the American Association for Justice. To speak to Mr. Strom about a pro hac vice deposition or case in South Carolina, please contact him at 803.252.4800.