Justin Bieber has recently landed in a bunch of hot water, from a DUI charge to a lawsuit alleging that his bodyguard roughed up a paparazzi. Everyone, even the front page of, is talking about the Justin Bieber deposition segments released by TMZ. Although the coverage is over-the-top, and the deposition seems to have been a three-ring circus, there’s always something to be learned. Here are three deposition prep reminders for litigators:
1. When preparing your witness, remind them to use their normal vocabulary. Trying to use words you don’t really know to sound smarter can be hazardous:
Counsel: Do you know an individual by the name of “Usher”?
Bieber: Yeah, Usher, that sounds familiar.
Counsel: Isn’t it true that Usher was instrumental in starting your career?
Bieber’s Counsel: What does that have to do with this litigation? You’re trying to harass the client.
Bieber: I was found on YouTube. I think that I was detrimental to my own career.
Mr. Bieber’s counsel quickly clarified that his client meant that he was instrumental to his own career.
2. “I don’t know” and “I don’t remember” are fine answers, unless it’s something you would obviously know or remember. Then you just sound disrespectful:
Counsel: Do you remember being to Australia ever?
Bieber: I don’t know if I’ve been to Australia. (To his attorney: “Have I been to Australia?”)
Mr. Bieber, who regularly tours the world performing, then mockingly turned back to opposing counsel and smirked.
3. Prepare your client for the possibility opposing counsel will, if possible, raise sensitive topics such as past relationships to provoke a reaction:
Counsel: Have you ever talked with Selena Gomez and discussed your feelings about paparazzis [sic] with her?
Bieber: Don’t ask me about her again. Don’t ask me about her again. Don’t ask me about her again. Don’t ask me about her again. Don’t ask me about her again. Don’t ask me about her again. (His attorneys declare a break, walk out of the room and tell him to come with them.)
Above all, there’s rarely a place for arrogance in deposition testimony, which is the origin of the above quotes. Ultimately, it’s likely Mr. Bieber’s attorneys prepared him for all of this and more, and he just didn’t listen. I guess you can lead a pop star to a stage, but you can’t make him dance.