Tuesday, October 23, 2007
CJP Amends Rules to Permit Limited Number of Discovery Depositions
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The Commission on Judicial Performance has adopted rules permitting the taking of a limited number of discovery depositions in formal disciplinary proceedings.
The rules, which were adopted at a closed-door meeting last week and made public yesterday, permit the attorney prosecuting the case for the commission to depose up to four witnesses, including the judge, and allow the judge to depose up to four witnesses.
Members and employees of the CJP may not be deposed for discovery purposes. Judges and court employees are entitled to be represented at their depositions by counsel provided by the Administrative Office of the Courts if they request.
Depositions will be limited to a single, seven-hour day. Disputes will be resolved by the commission, which may delegate that authority to its chairperson or to the chairperson’s designee, or to one or more of the special masters assigned to hear the case.
The new rules take effect Jan. 1 and will expire after three years unless extended. Their adoption, following a public comment period that saw no comments submitted, is the culmination of an effort by the California Judges Association.
The CJA has long argued that current rules, which permit the taking of depositions only with leave from the commission or the special masters and then only to perpetuate testimony, are unfair to the accused judges. An effort to permit discovery depositions by legislation was abandoned in 2004 when the commission agreed to study the prospect of doing so by rule.
In limiting the length and number of depositions, the commission said it was addressing concerns that since it meets only periodically and its members serve part-time, its ability to respond to and resolve discovery disputes is limited.
The new rules do not affect the taking of depositions to perpetuate testimony, which can still be done as provided by the prior rules. Discovery depositions, unlike those to perpetuate testimony, may not be videotaped, according to the new rules.
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